Softening Trump

As of Sunday evening, August 21, the definitive political analytic site, FiveThirtyEight, showed that Donald Trump might as well give up – he has a 15.3 percent chance of winning in November. The details weren’t pretty and the highly reliable Sabato analysis shows Clinton with a likely 348 Electoral College votes to 190 for Trump. All the other polling shows her with at least the 270 Electoral College votes she needs to win now locked in. Something could blow up in her face – she could be perp-walked off to jail for the murder of Vince Foster or something. ISIS could blow up Atlanta. That would be her fault. The stock market could crash in a way never seen before and the worldwide economy collapse overnight. That would be her fault too. The Cubs could win the World Series. But all of that is unlikely, except for the Chicago Cubs. They’re pretty good this year. Donald Trump isn’t.

His nastiness and angry shouting about who we all should hate – Muslims, the press, those Black Lives Matter thugs, judges of Mexican heritage and anyone of that sort, and America as it is now – seems to have caught up with him. Even those who agree with him must be getting exhausted. He does need to tone it down:

A Muslim woman who was kicked out of a Donald Trump rally in Charlotte on Thursday said she was told she was being a “nuisance.”

Rose Hamid was kicked out of the Charlotte Convention Center after handing out pens and telling people that Islam is a peaceful religion.

Hamid was also kicked out of another Trump rally in January after she stood up in silent protest during Trump’s speech…

“We cannot have these people coming into our country. We don’t know who they are or where they’re coming from,” a Trump supporter told FOX8. “We have to protect the American public.”

Rose Hamid, however, seems harmless enough. And why not argue the question with her, instead of tossing her out of the room? It’s a matter of tone, but the Trump campaign is tone-deaf in many ways, and incidents like this don’t help:

Sean P. Jackson is the head of the Black Republican Caucus of Florida, and he’s also serving as a Donald Trump surrogate in the state. He claims that the head of the Trump campaign in Florida, Karen Giorno, has repeatedly blown off his efforts at getting the campaign to take African-American voters seriously. In fact she apparently couldn’t even remember what he looked like, despite his prominence within the campaign and the numerous conversations they’d had.

When the Secret Service asked Jackson what he was doing backstage at a Donald Trump rally, he identified himself, but none of Trump’s people backstage could vouch for him because none of them recognized him. He claims he asked Giorno to vouch for him, but she said she didn’t recognize him either, so he was escorted out under the assumption he didn’t belong.

Yes, all those black people look alike, even if they work on your team. It was an honest mistake, if you think that way, and it seems many do.

Then there’s Don Advo – you can read what he writes on The Daily Stormer – the site of the Stormfront white nationalist neo-Nazi folks. He was just on the David Duke Show for a bit of chit-chat with Duke, our most famous Christian white nationalist, and a smug Holocaust denier, and a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Duke has announced that he will run for the Republican nomination for the open Senate seat in Louisiana. The Trump folks have not said he shouldn’t. The Republican Party has not said he shouldn’t – they need that seat this year, when they could easily lose the Senate – but this particular radio exchange was telling:

Don Advo: So, something astonishing has happened. We appear to have taken over the Republican Party.

David Duke: Well, rank and file, but a lot of those boll weevils are still in those cotton balls, and, uh, the Republican Party may be a European-American populated party, but like a ball of cotton, you can have boll weevils in there that are going to rot it out from the inside.

The Stormfront guy and the Ku Klux Klan guy were gloating over how they’d taken over the Republican Party. Now all they have to do is get rid of the niggers and nigger-lovers in the party, and maybe the Jews, those boll weevils in their white cotton balls, who can still ruin everything they’ve accomplished. Way down South in the land of cotton, old times there are not forgotten.

This sort of thing hurts Trump. He needs at least some of the black vote, and some of the vote of those who think he should think that he needs some of the black vote, and that led to this:

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?”

Okay, he does not stand with David Duke. He’ll be one of those boll weevils, but the Washington Post’s Janell Ross thinks he made things worse for himself:

The speech seemed built on an assumption that black voters are either easily fooled or easily led in new directions.

Trump described his understanding of the state of life in black America, a singular “community” riddled with crime, where law-abiding parents and children cower in their homes in constant fear of marauding gangs. It is a community in which people occasionally take a break from rioting, looting and arson to start future broken families and hunt for jobs that do not exist or have been filled by undocumented immigrants. It was a description of black life that reads like a treatment for a more grim, violent and stereotype-laden presidential-election-themed episode of the 1970s sitcom “Good Times.”

It was devoid of any acknowledgment of Republican policies and forces beyond trade and illegal immigration that have fostered black poverty – crumbling schools and public infrastructure, the movement of jobs away from public transit routes and tax policy decisions that have left entire generations unable to access the easiest route to the middle class once available to at least most white Americans….

Even his positives were negative:

Trump did speak of his view that policing and public safety efforts should be modeled after tactics first applied when Rudolph W. Giuliani was mayor of New York. There was, however, no acknowledgment that Giuliani’s police department made so many unwarranted and illegal stops, searches and the like that a court later declared one of the agency’s principal law enforcement tactics unconstitutional. There was also no mention of the role that concentrated and uneven policing in communities of color has played in mass incarceration – and with that poverty, black joblessness and broken families. And amid the many mentions of the privileged getting over on those with far less, there was no mention of a private prison industry that thrived for decades in the era before mass incarceration became a bipartisan concern or the many prison jobs created in nearly all-white, rural communities.

Still, she understands what he was up to:

Perhaps Trump wasn’t really speaking to black voters at all but to college-educated whites and others who are tempted to vote for him but are repulsed by his sometimes overt embrace of language, data and tactics that carry labels those voters don’t want to claim.

It’s a plan. He gets their votes for at least not being David Duke. College-educated whites don’t like David Duke. He tried, but Ross thinks he failed:

What most black voters – minus the 1 to 4 percent who express support for Trump in a variety of reputable public opinion polls – very likely heard and saw was evidence that Trump and his campaign staff may actually think he can show up near a city boiling over with racial tension, say some things, gloss over much else and collect more than a sliver of black votes. What more could black voters want or need?

One can almost hear Trump declaring, in an echo of Reagan, “Blacks understand leadership.”

Hey, he tried! But there’s this:

Donald Trump’s new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, defended a controversial speech by the real estate mogul aimed at African American voters by noting how much she herself appreciated it…

In a Sunday interview with Conway on ABC News’ “This Week,” host George Stephanopoulos asked about criticism that the speech was patronizing.

“Many in the African American community saw that as insulting because they say most African Americans don’t live in poverty and that Mr. Trump was making those comments in communities that are more than 90 percent white,” he said.

Conway responded that African Americans’ perception of the speech was not the only thing that mattered.

“Those comments are for all Americans,” she said. “And I live in a white community. I’m white. I was very moved by his comment.”

Kellyanne Conway is now in charge of softening up Trump’s image, but she just said this was a make-white-folks-feel-good speech that had little to do with black folks, and there were the details:

The pollster-turned-campaign chief reiterated Trump’s arguments that Democrats have been bad for African Americans, repeatedly claiming, as Trump had, that 58 percent of African-American young people are unemployed.

It is not clear where this figure comes from. The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for the source of the statistic.

The source might have been The Daily Stormer. Conway has work to do, as David Ferguson at Raw Story also reports on Trump supporters caught on CB radio when they didn’t know anyone was listening, a Massachusetts convoy of Trump supporters driving from Wrentham to Foxboro in their trucks:

“Lynch the niggers by their dicks!” said one driver, according to Winning Democrats, which highlighted a YouTube video of what the “Make America Great Again” convoy talked about on its CB channel when they thought no one was listening.

“Burn every single nigger!” said another driver.

“All I know is we got plenty of trees to hang niggers from,” said another.

The convoy drove five miles from one township to another with their U.S. and Confederate flags waving.

It’s hard to soften Trump’s image when things like this happen, and things like this:

Daniel Rowe was apparently enraged at the sight of a black man and a white woman kissing on the streets of Olympia, Wash., Tuesday night. But police say he hid his violent intent behind a stony face until he was close enough to strike.

The attack happened about 8:30 p.m. in the state’s capital city on Fourth Avenue, a classic downtown street busy with people going to a local movie theater or visiting bars and restaurants…

After the attack, Rowe ran off as stunned onlookers dialed 911. The 47-year-old male victim, not realizing how badly he was injured, chased Rowe and “tripped him up,” said Lt. Paul Lower, a police department spokesman. Rowe hit his head on the ground and was knocked unconscious.

No one involved had life-threatening injuries, but police said Rowe’s behavior grew stranger as officers tried to wrestle him into the back of a patrol car.

“He tells them, ‘Yeah, I stabbed them. I’m a white supremacist,'” Lower said. “He begins talking about Donald Trump rallies and attacking people at the Black Lives Matter protest.”

Some damage cannot be undone, but then maybe some can:

Donald Trump’s campaign wavered Sunday on whether he would continue to call for the mass deportation of 11 million illegal immigrants from the United States, the latest in a series of sometimes-clumsy attempts to win over moderate GOP voters without alienating millions who have flocked to his hardline views.

After insisting for more than a year that all illegal immigrants “have to go,” Trump met with a newly created panel of Hispanic advisers on Saturday and asked for other ideas – making clear that his position is not finalized, according to two attendees. Any shift would represent a remarkable retreat on one of the Republican nominee’s signature issues.

The meeting prompted attempts by Trump advisers on Sunday to clarify his position. Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said on CNN that Trump’s stance on mass deportations was “to be determined” but that he will be “fair and humane for those who live among us in this country.” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), a close Trump adviser, said on CBS that the nominee is “wrestling” with the issue but has not changed his position yet.

“People that are here unlawfully, came into the country against our laws, are subject to being removed,” Sessions said. “That’s just plain fact.”

Something is up, something ambiguous:

The shifts appear aimed at shoring up support among white GOP moderates who have been reluctant to support extreme positions staked out by Trump during the Republican primary, including a massive U.S.-Mexico border wall, deportation of illegal immigrants and a “total” ban on foreign Muslims.

At the same time, any oscillation carries the risk of alienating Trump’s most loyal supporters, many of whom adore his willingness to buck “political correctness” by laying out brash proposals. Trump has thrived in part by staying vague on most of his policy positions, vacillating between extreme rhetoric and assurances of reasonableness.

But there’s nothing new here:

In December, Trump issued a written statement – still on his campaign website – calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” although within days he said it would be temporary and would include a number of exceptions. By spring, he seemed to back away from the controversial proposal, calling it “just a suggestion,” only to double down once again following an Islamic State-inspired mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub. Then this summer, Trump stopped using the word “Muslim,” instead saying he would focus on “areas of the world where there’s a proven history of terrorism against the United States” – he wouldn’t say which ones – and implement “extreme vetting.”

“I’m talking about territories now,” Trump told Sean Hannity of Fox News in late July, insisting that his position had not changed but had expanded. “People don’t want me to say Muslim – I guess I’d prefer not saying it, frankly, myself. So we’re talking about territories.”

Some didn’t buy that:

Rick Wilson, a longtime GOP strategist who strongly opposes Trump and is now working on the campaign of independent candidate Evan McMullin, called Trump’s shape-shifting on such issues “irritating.”

“He lets people fill in the blanks mentally for what they think he’s saying, not what he’s actually saying,” Wilson said. “So when you hear him saying one day: ‘I’m going to ban all Muslims,’ but then you hear him say another day, ‘Well, I’m going to ban the dangerous, bad ones.’ And then you hear him another day saying, ‘I’m going to ban the ones from the bad countries.’ So it always flips, and then the people that are fanatics about Trump just say, ‘Oh, well, he meant the one that I liked.'”

Well, that’s a plan too, and a way of campaigning:

Trump has also promised to revive waterboarding of terror suspects, only to say later that he would never force members of the military to break U.S. and international law. Then he said he would change those laws.

On guns, Trump implied that he wants to arm intoxicated club-goers and bar patrons – an idea that concerned even the National Rifle Association – then later insisted he “was obviously talking about additional guards or employees.” He suggested that Japan arm itself with nuclear weapons, then insisted he had never said that. He promised to raise taxes on wealthy individuals like himself, and then insisted he never said that.

Trump called for banning abortion and then punishing women who have the illegal procedure, a position he quickly abandoned. He has said that wages are “too high” and “too low,” while calling for both an end to the federal minimum wage and an increase of it. He was opposed to H-1B visas used by skilled foreign workers, then in favor of the program, and then once again opposed.

Trump’s campaign did not respond to a request to clarify his positions on these and other issues.

Keep them guessing, but now no one knows what he thinks, which doesn’t seem to matter to his supporters – they just like him. There aren’t enough of those to win in November, but of course this time it was statesmanship:

This June, Trump expressed hesitation in using the term “mass deportations,” although his aides would not say whether his position had changed. In the meeting Saturday with his Hispanic advisory panel, Trump asked to hear policy ideas – although the campaign said that should not be taken as a sign that Trump has changed his position.

He was just being thoughtful, right? It’s too late for that:

Clinton’s campaign responded by listing Trump’s clear calls for mass deportations over the past year and noting his favorable comparison of his plans to “Operation Wetback,” which were mass deportations carried out during the 1950s under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“Whether Donald Trump’s immigration plan includes a deportation squad to forcibly remove millions of families from their homes has been asked and answered by the candidate himself time and time again,” Lorella Praeli, Hillary for America’s national Latino vote director, said in a statement. “When someone running for president says he looks upon a plan called Operation Wetback favorably, we should believe him the first dozen times he lays out his intentions.”

There’s no softening Donald Trump, and there is this – Angry Right-Wingers Have White Hot Emotional Meltdown over Trump’s ‘Flip-Flop’ on Mass Deportations – with tweets like these:

If Trump flips on deportations, I’m on board with the idea he’s a Democratic plant. Seriously, this would be the end of the GOP.

Trump no longer “telling it like it is!” Just another typical politician.

They said if I voted for Rubio we’d get a nominee who is squishy on immigration – and they were right!

And this:

At conservative website Red State, commentator Kyle Foley said, “Trump’s base is built around this hardcore stance that the wall should be built and the illegal immigrants should be deported. They railed against ‘Gang of Eight’ Marco Rubio for his perceived weak stance, however they will most likely justify Trump’s flip-flop because let’s face it, nothing matters to them. It’s almost like Trump simply told them what they wanted to hear in order to win. Lord knows what he actually believes when it comes to immigration.”

No one knows, but Trump must be reimagined, softened, so he doesn’t seem to be a moral monster to everyone not part of his vindictive base, but that’s simply hard work:

Donald Trump’s new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, claimed Sunday that the GOP presidential nominee does not personally insult people.

George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC News’ This Week, showed Conway a series of video clips of her attacking Trump while she was supporting Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) during the primary. (Conway ran a super PAC backing Cruz’s candidacy.)

In one of the excerpts, Conway said she was not backing Trump because he “hurls personal insults.”

Oops. Code Red:

Asked whether she stood by her remarks, Conway interpreted the question to be about whether she continues to be against personal insults as a matter of principle, not whether she maintains her criticism of Trump.

“I do and the reason is I don’t like when people hurl personal insults,” she said. “That will never be my style, I’m a mother of four small children, it would be a terrible example for me to feel otherwise.”

Conway went on to deny that Trump engages in that behavior despite her past assertions to the contrary.

“Well, but he doesn’t hurl personal insults,” she said, before changing the subject to Trump’s pitch to African-Americans earlier this week.

This woman has a hard job. She loses either way there, and see the New York Times’ 250 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete List:

Since declaring his candidacy for president last June, Donald Trump has used Twitter to lob insults at presidential candidates, journalists, news organizations, nations, a Neil Young song and even a lectern in the Oval Office. We know this because we’ve read, tagged and quoted them all. Below, a directory of sorts with links to the original tweets. Insults within the last 60 days are highlighted.

That’s cold. Then add this:

Stephanopoulos asked whether that meant Trump had reached out personally to anybody – including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) or Khizr Khan – to apologize.

“No,” Conway said. “He has expressed his regret publicly and said if I have caused you personal pain – that can include me, that can include you – that he regrets that. And that’s the Donald Trump that I know.”

She continued: “This is exactly what people love. They love humility. They love accessibility. They love authenticity.”

Of course they do. But who is SHE talking about?

Perhaps this guy cannot be softened, although Maureen Dowd offers an imaginary open letter to the American people from Donald Trump, and this is just some of it:

I’m sorry that I realized too late that all the great put-downs that helped me put away the 16 dwarfs don’t translate well to the general election.

I’m sorry that I’m causing the Republicans to lose control of the Senate and I’m sorry they wish I’d never been born.

I’m really not that sorry to be causing trouble for Paul Ryan, who’s going to lose seats in the House. He’s a prig and I wish he had lost his primary to that tattooed guy who likes me.

I’m sorry I pretended I was going to release my tax returns. Of course I didn’t pay any taxes. I have the all-time greatest real estate deductions and depreciations.

I’m sorry I asked African-Americans “What do you have to lose by supporting me?” in front of a crowd of white people. I’m sorry I can never find my African-American.

And there are specifics:

I’m sorry I didn’t google Paul Manafort and see that he had more shady Russian connections than a James Bond villain. I’m also sorry I had to cut him loose. He had a lot of experience propping up dictators. But Paul didn’t know how to play the Trumpet. He had these old-fashioned ideas that when I bravely took on the Khans and that rude baby at the rally that I was punching below my weight. And he didn’t appreciate the genius of my taco bowl tweet.

Speaking of tacos, I’m sorry nobody understood why a Mexican judge could not be fair to me because of the wall. Isn’t it obvious why a Mexican-American is the same as a Mexican but a German-Scottish American is a pure American?

There’s much more, and Trump (Dowd) ends with this:

And I’m sorry Hillary is so unhealthy and weak that she hardly ever campaigns and needs pillows to prop her up when she does. I’m sorry to say that she does not have the stamina to take on ISIS. But I am not sorry to say that I am fully recovered from the bone spurs that got me out of Vietnam and ready to kick the you-know-what out of ISIS.

I’m sorry that Hillary won’t stop playing “Fight Song.”

Most of all, I’m sorry that I’m not really sorry.

Of course he is. His new campaign staff is sorry too, because their job is to create a kinder gentler Donald Trump, a softer almost cuddly Donald Trump, or at least a thoughtful Donald Trump – and they are doing their best. But some things cannot be done. He is who he is. He’s a nasty man. That’s what got him this far. And that’s what just stopped him. There’s no fixing that.


About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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