Something was up. It was time for the third campaign manager in three months:
Donald Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said former campaign chair Paul Manafort was asked to resign on Friday.
She noted that the decision was mutual, but said the last couple weeks on the Trump campaign had been tumultuous.
“He was asked and he indeed tendered his resignation today,” said Conway on WABC radio’s “Drive at Five” being hosted by Rita Cosby. “Mr. Trump accepted his resignation and wished him well and thanked him for his service. I think it’s as simple as that.”
And that was that:
Earlier this week, the Trump campaign hired Breitbart News executive Stephen K. Bannon as his campaign’s CEO and promoted pollster Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager. The move was an apparent demotion for Manafort before he resigned on Friday.
Still, Conway said the decision for Manafort to resign was “mutual.”
Fine, but Bannon knows nothing about running a presidential campaign – he’s the editor of Breitbart News, the angry white nationalist conspiracy website – so this was odd. Manafort actually knew all about such things. In fact, Martin Longman takes us on a trip down memory lane:
Once Ronald Reagan had secured the Republican presidential nomination in 1980, a young Connecticut Yankee named Paul Manafort decided that the best idea he could come up with was to have the candidate go down to Philadelphia, Mississippi and attend a county fair. The county (Neshoba) was chosen carefully. It was the same county where civil rights volunteers James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael “Mickey” Schwerner had been slain by members of the local White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan a mere sixteen years earlier. Reagan went to that county fair, and here is what he said:
In his relatively short speech, Reagan declared, “I believe in state’s rights … And I believe that we’ve distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended in the constitution to that federal establishment. And if I do get the job I’m looking for, I’m going to devote myself to trying to reorder those priorities and to restore to the states and local communities those functions which properly belong there.”
It worked. Ronald Reagan won every state in the former Confederacy except President Carter’s home state of Georgia.
That was also the speech where Reagan first talked about “Welfare Queens” – lazy fat black women who popped out baby after baby, from long-gone father after father each of which was never a husband, and lived high off the hog on welfare checks to cover all those children, driving her big new Cadillac and whatnot. That was Paul Manafort at work:
Thus, Manafort is rightly considered one of the architects of the Republican Party’s post-Nixon Southern Strategy. Another thing he did in 1980 was team up with fellow race-baiters Lee Atwater, Charlie Black and Roger Stone. With Black and Stone, he formed a lobbying group that soon had impressive clients like Ferdinand Marcos, Mohamed Siad Barre of Somalia and Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire. It was quite a climb for a guy who had only graduated from Georgetown Law School in 1974.
Mercenary by nature and evidently conscienceless, Manafort would go in more recent years to work with Vladimir Putin’s puppet clients in Ukraine, going so far to help lay the groundwork for the Russian annexation of Crimea.
As a consultant for foreign politicians, he could rake in millions without any requirement to disclose what he was doing, though there are federal laws against lobbying on the behalf of foreign clients in the United States. That’s a requirement that Manafort apparently ignored, and he could now face prosecution for the “oversight.”
Yes, he had to go. The FBI and Department of Justice have opened the inevitable investigations – things caught up with him, and Longman adds this:
What’s kind of amazing is that we already knew that Trump was relying on cynical and mercenary race-baiting veterans of Reagan’s Southern Strategy, but Manafort’s replacement is a white supremacist (or indistinguishable from one, anyway). Maybe Stephen Bannon won’t be so far in Vladimir Putin’s pocket that he’ll change the Republican Party platform to appease him. Of course, it’s too late to do that this year, so I guess we’ll never know.
But some know this:
A former Breitbart News spokesman slammed Donald Trump’s new campaign chief executive, Stephen Bannon, for allegedly using racist rhetoric during editorial meetings at Breitbart that he said sounded “like a white supremacist rally,” while a Trump ally calls the new CEO a positive addition to the team. Both men joined this week’s episode of ABC News’ Powerhouse Politics podcast.
Kurt Bardella, who worked with Bannon at Breitbart for two years, says the former Breitbart News chairman regularly disparaged minorities, women, and immigrants during daily editorial calls at the publication…
“If anyone sat there and listened to that call, you’d think that you were attending a white supremacist rally,” said Bardella, citing what he called Bannon’s “nationalism and hatred for immigrants, people coming into this country to try to get a better life for themselves.”
“This is someone who has a very low moral compass,” he said of Bannon, “and the idea that this is the type of person that Donald Trump, as the Republican nominee, as president, would have closest to him is very disturbing.”
But it may be that Steve Bannon is changing his ways, because Trump’s poll numbers are so awful and a few black votes might help. One must be practical, and that means that it’s time for some minority outreach, even if it seems too late for that now. It was worth a try:
On his second visit to Michigan in less than two weeks, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Friday blasted Democratic policies he said have destroyed Detroit and other urban centers and called for African Americans to support him, saying blacks cannot expect change otherwise.
Speaking to a predominantly white audience of about 6,000 people, Trump appealed directly to blacks for votes.
“You live in poverty,” he said. “Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. What the hell do you have to lose?”
There are two problems here. His audience was white. Perhaps, once again, this was no more than a “See, I tried with these damned people” message to those who’d like to see all those damned people shot dead right now. “Look, I’m being nice to those stupid and ungrateful black people who hate my guts and hate you too!”
It might have been code – or maybe it really was outreach, offered to the wrong audience at the wrong place and the wrong time, in the hope that some black folks might hear about it later. Trump may know better than to schedule one of his angry-at-everything speeches at an inner city AME church to an all-black audience. Stone-cold silence is the best he could hope for, if he’s lucky. It’s probably better to talk to them from a safe distance for now, surrounded by cheering white folks.
The second problem is obvious. “What the hell do you have to lose?” That’s what worries them. He told them that their lives were miserable. They know that. They also fear things could get much worse. Trump talks about freeing the police to impose some far more serious law and order from here on out, with no questions asked. There’s plenty to lose. Even more unarmed young black men will die. Trump asked a rhetorical question, but it wasn’t heard as one.
That aside, this went nowhere:
A Democratic state representative from Detroit said he was not impressed with Trump’s broad-brush message.
“Anyone can tell you what the problem is,” said Rep. Wendell Byrd, D-Detroit, who represents the 3rd House District. “The one you want to hire is the one who can tell you how to come in and fix the problem.”
But wait! This was the fix:
Trump promised to bring back American jobs, build a wall on the Mexican border, cut taxes and improve education and health care. But he was short on details on how he would fix the last two areas, other than getting rid of the Common Core federal education guidelines and repealing the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
Get rid of education standards in their public schools and take away their health insurance? They do have something to lose, but that’s not how Trump sees it:
Though Democrats and many former administration officials have said a President Trump would make the world a more dangerous place, Trump promised an almost idyllic America with him in the White House.
“We will love each other. We will have one country. Everyone will work together,” he said as he was wrapping up his speech at The Summit, a sports and arena complex in the Dimondale area of Windsor Township in Eaton County, just outside of Lansing.
An almost idyllic America may come to predominately white Lansing one day. Lansing isn’t Detroit, but Trump says trust him:
He predicted that given a chance to govern, he would win 95% of the African-American vote in the future.
Good luck with that:
Trump’s arrival in Michigan was delayed several hours so he could visit flood-ravaged Louisiana on Friday. That decision drew criticism from state Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, and others, who pointed out that Trump has yet to visit Flint, which for more than two years has faced a crisis over lead-contaminated water, which was first acknowledged by the state government around Oct. 1 2015.
Perhaps there are too many black folks in Flint for that to be feasible at the moment, and then there’s this woman:
Mona Charen is an American columnist, political analyst and author of two books: Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got it Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First (2003) and Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help (and the Rest of Us) (2005), both New York Times bestsellers.
She’s no bleeding-heart liberal, but she has a few things to say to Donald Trump:
Donald Trump is currently polling near zero among African-Americans in key swing states. In a normal year, Republicans struggle with this demographic, and I’ve written whole books (well, a chapter anyway) about the Democrats’ low, despicable use of race to stoke fear among blacks in order to be rewarded with votes.
While it may shock regular readers of this column to see these next words from my pen, there were some good points in Trump’s speech. He urged African-Americans to consider that Democratic policies (cities are virtually Republican-free zones) have not yielded solutions but rather “more crime, more broken homes and more poverty.” (Actually, crime fell even in big cities starting in the 1990s, but it remains too high.) He argued that those who advance the “narrative of cops as a racist force in our society – a narrative supported with a nod by my opponent – share directly in the responsibility for the unrest in Milwaukee, and many other places within our country.” Well-phrased, which suggests ventriloquism by the speechwriter, but still, credit to the candidate for agreeing to the text.
She was referring to a previous speech Trump gave near Milwaukee, to an audience that was nearly all white, but both speeches and both audiences were the same, and foolish:
While African-American voters, unlike Hispanics, women, Muslims and others, have not received much direct incoming fire from Trump’s flamethrower during this cycle, they doubtless recall that one of Trump’s countless forays into conspiracy-mongering concerned Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Some on the right (this columnist included) chafe at the suggestion that all criticism of Obama is merely thinly veiled racism. But birtherism is probably just that. Need more? A couple of weeks ago, Trump suggested that if he loses in November, it will be due to irregularities in “certain areas.” He then accused Obama, repeatedly (and unsarcastically) of being the “founder of ISIS.” By hiring Steve Bannon of Breitbart, the candidate is signaling that the alt-right, nationalist, protectionist, loutish fringe is going to pilot this ship straight into the reef.
Even supposing that Trump misspoke or was misunderstood about all of the above it’s perverse to imagine that blacks will not have their radar activated when Trump relentlessly derides other minorities. An attack on one minority group – Hispanics have been one of Trump’s preferred targets – is threatening to all. Consider the Asian vote in 2012. If there is one minority group that ought to lean Republican, it’s Asians. They have very low illegitimacy rates, little divorce, high levels of small business ownership, are highly educated, hardworking and self-sufficient. Yet they cast more than 75 percent of their votes for Obama over Mitt Romney. Could it have been the vehement hostility to immigration telegraphed by nearly all of the Republican candidates in the primaries?
Is the sky blue? There’s no fixing this:
This election, as calamitous as it will be for many fine candidates, will not have been entirely in vain if it serves to bury the idea – beloved even of many non-Trump Republicans – that the party can win national elections without broadening its appeal to minorities and women. Every precious American tradition, from religious liberty to free speech to free markets to national security, depends upon convincing more Hispanics, Asians and African-Americans to oppose the policies of the Democrats. Even immigration restriction is possible if not framed in an odious way.
This was the year when it would have been relatively easy to do. Hillary Clinton is Imelda Marcos in a pantsuit. The nomination of Trump was the greatest act of self-sabotage by a political party in American history. The Republican Party may not survive it, but if it does, it will be because it stopped signaling that it was the party of white people and got back to being the party of Lincoln.
That may not stop anytime soon, and the New York Times’ Charles Blow, who is quite black, explains why blacks loathe Trump:
A day after The New York Times published an article pointing out that “the Republican nominee has not held a single event aimed at black voters in their communities, shunning the traditional stops at African-American churches, historically black colleges and barber shops and salons that have long been staples of the presidential campaign trail,” Trump ventured to a suburban town outside Milwaukee that is 95 percent white and 1 percent black to tell the black population of America – a population that has been consumed in recent years by a discussion of police misconduct and extrajudicial killings – that “the problem in our poorest communities is not that there are too many police, the problem is that there are not enough police.”
The speech was tone deaf, facile and nonsensical, much like the man who delivered it.
Then within hours of making that speech, Trump shook up his campaign in part by naming Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC, the campaign’s chief executive.
This is the same Breitbart that the Southern Poverty Law Center referred to in an April “Hatewatch” report:
“Over the past year however, the outlet has undergone a noticeable shift toward embracing ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right. Racist ideas. Anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant ideas – all key tenets making up an emerging racist ideology known as the ‘Alt-Right.'”
The report continued:
“The Alt-Right is a loose set of far-right ideologies at the core of which is a belief that “white identity” is under attack through policies prioritizing multiculturalism, political correctness and social justice and must be preserved, usually through white-identified online communities and physical ethno-states.”
How are you reaching out to the black community when you step on your own message with such an insulting hire?
Some things are just obvious:
All of black America is looking askance at Donald Trump. He has no credibility with black people, other than the handful of black staffers and surrogates who routinely embarrass themselves in their blind obsequiousness.
Trump has demonstrated through a lifetime of words and actions that he is no friend of the black community.
Donald Trump is 70 years old. Surely there should be copious examples from those many years of an egalitarian spirit, of outreach to African-American communities, of taking a stand for social justice, right? Right?!
In fact, Trump’s life demonstrates the opposite. He erupted like a rash onto the public consciousness on the front page of The New York Times in 1973 because he and his father were being sued for anti-black bias at their rental property.
This is the same man who took out full-page ads blaring the headline “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” in New York City newspapers calling for the execution of the Central Park Five, a group of teenagers made up of four African-American boys and one Hispanic boy, who were accused and convicted of raping a white female jogger in the park. A judge later overturned the convictions in the flimsy cases and in 2014 the Five settled a wrongful conviction suit with the city for $41 million.
This goes on for quite a bit with additional details like these:
Even Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom Trump viciously attacked for his “Mexican heritage,” is a prominent member of one of the historically African-American fraternities and sororities, known together as “The Divine Nine.” In the black community, these groups serve as well-respected service organizations with active lifetime engagement and prominent members like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, Thurgood Marshall, Toni Morrison, Nikki Giovanni, Zora Neale Hurston, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. and Michael Jordan. In the black community, this attack by Trump did not go unnoticed, and it did not go over well.
This is the same man who has scandalously maligned Muslims, apparently not realizing that it’s estimated that approximately one-fourth of the 3.3 million Muslims in this country are African-American. Indeed, the Muslim faith has deep roots in the black community because many Africans brought to this country as slaves were Muslims…
This is the same man who has refused to reach out to black people in any way, including rejecting offers to speak before the NAACP, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Urban League. (Hillary Clinton spoke before all three.)
Donald Trump is the paragon of racial, ethnic and religious hostility. He is the hobgoblin of retrograde racial hegemony.
And this is the man who now wants to court the black vote?
Yes, he does. He must court the black vote. He needs the black vote, but you can’t always get what you want.
Perhaps he doesn’t know that:
Donald Trump closed out the Republican National Convention on Thursday with the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and The Stones aren’t too thrilled about it.
The band took to Twitter to clarify that the song use is not an endorsement for Trump. “The Rolling Stones do not endorse Donald Trump. You Can’t Always Get What You Want was used without the band’s permission.”
The Rolling Stones have continuously asked Trump to refrain from using their music. In May, Trump walked out for his Indiana primary victory speech to “Start Me Up,” with a rep for the band telling Billboard at the time, “The Rolling Stones have never given permission to the Trump campaign to use their songs. The band has requested that they cease all use immediately.”
He will not stop. The Stones can sue him. He’ll countersue and bury them in legal costs that will ruin them – that’s how he rolls. Still, there was that time Keith Richards pulled a knife on Donald Trump – there’s a lot of bad blood there.
Okay, that’s beside the point. Trump will not get the black vote. Let him play the damned song all he wants. Everyone will understand his cluelessness. Irony works too.