It turns out that the boisterous and bigoted Donald Trump we’ve known for the last few years has just been acting a part. According to the frontrunner’s chief strategist Paul Manafort, Trump is simply “projecting an image“ and once Americans get to know the real Donald Trump, they’ll love him: “The negatives will come down, the image is going to change.”
What a relief!
Some pundits, it seems, were willing to play along with Manafort’s claim that Trump is shedding his outrageous persona, citing a single speech that he delivered immediately following his victory in the New York primary as proof that “Donald Trump 2.0” is “markedly more disciplined, gentler and more appealing than the version of Trump we’ve seen for much of the last year.”
Howard Kurtz of Fox News raved that “the disciplined Donald” was a “changed candidate” who has scrubbed the insults and started “acting more presidential. “
In reality, the only thing that was substantively different about Trump’s New York speech was that he referred to his chief opponent as “Senator Cruz” instead of “Lyin’ Ted.”
But before anybody had a chance to give him a medal for this brave reformation, Trump returned to using his “Lyin’ Ted” moniker in his subsequent speeches and Twitter broadsides. The much-heralded new, disciplined and thoughtful Donald Trump didn’t even last a day.
He even mocked reports of his supposed “presidential” transformation, a transformation we’ve been hearing about since well into last year.
The standards for Trump are so low that he was even hailed for acting “more presidential” simply for using a teleprompter in a speech.
There seems to be no expectation that Trump will have any knowledge of world events, answer basis questions or hold consistent positions. Instead, he wins praise simply for not insulting someone.
Today Trump will deliver a speech at the Mayflower Hotel as part of a series of speeches intended to show “a more sober and serious presidential candidate,” who so far has mostly received attention for his uninformed rants and almost daily policy shifts.
But Trump changing his style won’t make the substance of what he says any less terrifying. After all, his main foreign policy objectives include committing war crimes and accelerating nuclear proliferation.
Appearances in “formal settings” won’t change the fact that Trump’s speeches are so replete with falsehoods that some reporters covering him have admitted that they have all but given up on fact-checking them.
Trump seems to relish in repeating mistruths, like his claim about Muslims partying in New Jersey on 9/11 or a U.S. general who he said rightly massacred Muslim prisoners with bullets covered in pig’s blood. Both are fallacious stories that gained popularity in the online rumor mill. Not that that matters to Trump, who said of the dubious massacre: “It’s an amazing story. It shows toughness, it shows toughness. A true story. The press will say, ‘Well it was a rumor.’ It’s not a rumor, it’s a true story.”
His bizarre birther conspiracy theories, disparaging remarks about POWs and criticism of vaccines have largely faded from the limelight as Trump finds new outrageous things to say each week.
No other candidate for president would ever be able to get away with the amount of falsehoods, unhinged diatribes and sleaze pushed on a daily basis by Trump.
And simply saying that it was all an act doesn’t make Trump a new man or any less scary of a possible future president.