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The One Excuse Trump Can’t Claim

Friday, on a stage in Green Bay, Donald Trump publicly endorsed Paul Ryan. He also endorsed Kelly Ayotte and John McCain. For those of us who see politics as politics, we can only say “it’s about time.” For many of the Branch Trumpidians, Trump may well have committed treason.

Just a day before, Chris Cillizza, The Washington Post’s political blogger, gave four steps for Trump to change his strategy–the long-awaited “pivot” to a win.

  1. Endorse Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Cast himself as the uniter of the Republican party — and show it’s more than talk.
  2. Stop doing so many media interviews. Trump is constantly sitting for some interview or other, and, often, contradicting himself and the party in the process. Less is more.
  3. Find a message and stick to it. That message should be: a) Supreme Court b) change vs more of the same and c) Hillary can’t be trusted. But, almost any message might work — as long as Trump actually stuck to it.
  4. Stop picking dumb fights. The back and forth with the Khans was both unwinnable and incredibly un-strategic. If you are in the polling position Trump is, you can’t afford to give away a week fighting a fight you have no chance of winning.

To the relief of the party establishment, Trump did step 1, and boy did it bother his core.

And so in doing what the establishment wanted, Trump has lost his cover story of not doing what the establishment wants.

He can’t claim “I did it because the party needed me to.” That’s nonsense to Trumpkins, who actually believe the “only I can fix.” He can’t say he bowed to pressure, because The Donald doesn’t bow to pressure. But in fact that’s exactly what he did.

This isn’t like Trump signing the GOP loyalty pledge, when he got Reince Priebus to stand in the lobby of Trump Tower and publicly submit fealty to the Orange Throne. This was done in Wisconsin, Ryan’s home territory–a snub to Ryan’s doomed primary opponent, Paul Nehlen, who inexplicably defended Trump for slaughtering him.

I say “inexplicably” but really it isn’t. The Kool Aid does tend to render its victims suggestible, even to suicidal acts.

This is how many of Trump’s supporters will come to terms with Cheeto Jesus’ “mini-pivot.” They’ll say he did it for “party unity” (funny that only applies to everyone but Ted Cruz), and it wasn’t bowing to the establishment, although that’s exactly what it was.

In Trump’s cult of personality, the Master bows to nobody. That means Trump can make whatever excuse he wants for his reversal on Ryan (and McCain and Ayotte), but he can’t claim they made him do it. (But they did.)


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