There has been a shake-up in the campaign of Donald Trump with Steve Bannon coming on a chief executive and Kellyanne Elizabeth Conway as campaign manager and the seeming demotion of Paul Manafort who will retain his job title. Such changes so late in the game are rare and are usually taken as signs that things are not going well in a campaign, so the Trump campaign has taken some pains to paint these changes as mere trifles.
These changes have given fresh energy to what seems like a never-ending question and that is whether this signals the long-awaited ‘pivot’ by Trump from running a free-wheeling campaign that lurches from one controversy to another to a more traditional one that tries to focus on one message a day that paints the candidate in the best light.
Bannon has been a strong supporter of Trump and waged a major war to destroy the person once seen as the presumptive nominee, Jeb Bush. He has also long had Hillary Clinton in his sights and has spent a vast amount of time on opposition research against her. Much attention has been focused on the fact that Bannon was the executive chairman of Breitbart.com, an outlet known for its pugnacity and insouciance when it comes to facts. This suggests that things may not change much and that Trump may become even more aggressive in his rhetoric.
But that may be misleading. In October of last year, Joshua Green wrote a detailed profile of Bannon for Bloomberg Businessweek that was titled This Man Is the Most Dangerous Political Operative in America that said that Bannon combined shrewd political and business savvy with an in-your-face style.
Bannon is the executive chairman of Breitbart Newsi, the crusading right-wing populist website that’s a lineal descendant of the Drudge Report (its late founder, Andrew Breitbart, spent years apprenticing with Matt Drudge) and a haven for people who think Fox News is too polite and restrained.
As befits someone with his peripatetic background, Bannon is a kind of Jekyll-and-Hyde figure in the complicated ecosystem of the right—he’s two things at once. And he’s devised a method to influence politics that marries the old-style attack journalism of Breitbart.com, which helped drive out Boehner, with a more sophisticated approach, conducted through the nonprofit Government Accountability Institute, that builds rigorous, fact-based indictments against major politicians, then partners with mainstream media outlets conservatives typically despise to disseminate those findings to the broadest audience.
Conway gets a favorable review from George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley whose student she once was.
Kellyanne is one of my former students at GW Law where she also served as an adjunct professor. It is a huge responsibility and Trump supporters should be highly encouraged by her selection. She is smart, resourceful, and very disciplined. Just what the Trump campaign needs at this critical time. She also now have the distinction of being the first female to head a GOP campaign for president.
Of course, with the Trump campaign, one can never be sure what will happen on any given day so let’s see how these changes work out.
Matt G says
So this Conway person has many good qualities, according to this professor. Is honesty one of them? It wasn’t listed. Is honesty even important to him?
And he’s devised a method to influence politics that marries the old-style attack journalism of Breitbart.com, which helped drive out Boehner, with a more sophisticated approach, conducted through the nonprofit Government Accountability Institute, that builds rigorous, fact-based indictments against major politicians, then partners with mainstream media outlets conservatives typically despise to disseminate those findings to the broadest audience.
So? That stuff is already saturated with over-the-top Trump. There is nothing that the Beitbart guy is going to do except get the people already voting for Trump to vote harder for Trump. At the same time, they run the risk of getting people not voting for Trump to actually vote for Clinton instead.
Yeah, I agree with other commentators that this is basically a losing strategy for Trump. But if he ends up inflicting even more damage to the Party of Evil, then good for them.
Considering that many of the social and political views that Trump expressed before he ran for President ran counter to most of the Republican platform, I thought that when he began running on a pro-racist platform, I half believed that Trump was trolling the Republican party. (Don’t laugh, that’s not a joke — I actually thought that was a possibility.)
Now that he’s the actually, official nominee (don’t flame me, this is a joke) I wonder if he’s deliberately trying to sabotage the Republican party from within.
I’m continually amazed by how many people come out with tosh like this. Of course he isn’t -- he doesn’t care one way or the other about the future of the Republican Party, or the USA, or the world. His motivation is simplicity itself: all he cares about is Donald Trump, and he’s utterly incapable of self-criticism. He wants to win because he’s a winner, and winners always win. He thinks everyone loves him except a handful of jealous losers, so he expects to win, and the polls must be biased. Looking for some deep strategy or hidden purpose in Trump’s actions is a waste of effort.
Matt G says
The Republicans have been engaged in a balancing act since the Civil Rights Act of 1964: reassure racists that the party is racist, and pretend that this is not the case for the non-racists. If I wanted to expose this sham -- show the world exactly how racist the Republican Party really is -- I’d do EXACTLY what Trump is doing: make thinly (very thinly…) veiled racist comments and let the Republicans hang themselves. Is Trump really so stupid that he doesn’t see how many tens of millions he’s driving away? And does he really want the job? Campaigning feeds his narcissism on a daily basis, but he’ll get next to none of that for the four years in office. Does he really not understand that? This is why it’s so easy to believe that this is a long con. I don’t happen to believe it, but I have entertained the notion on more than one occasion.
Yes, he is. More precisely, he has very little insight into how others think and feel, because he’s not interested in them, except as props to his vanity. But he’s not an intelligent man in the ordinary sense, as you can tell by his limited vocabulary, his inability to produce a coherent argument or even sentence, his record in business -- if he hadn’t inherited wealth, he would never have made any and would probably be in prison. He has talents for self-promotion, for bullying, for fooling people who are even less intelligent than himself, and for demagoguery appealing to the lowest motives of fear and hatred. That’s it. What’s most worrying -- apart from the fact that he could still win -- is that a malignant narcissist of such limited abilities could be so successful. It indicates a profound socio-cultural pathology in the world’s most powerful state.
He wants to win. He has scarcely thought beyond that.
No, he doesn’t. He thinks he’ll be the greatest President ever, because he’s Donald Trump. He thinks he’ll just tell his minions to Make America Great Again and it will happen.