Yesterday, we ought to have focused like a laser beam on the FBI transcripts of Omar Mateen’s 911 calls. We ought to have been pondering the fact that the Obama administration tried to cleanse the transcripts of any reference to Islam, to Islamist terrorism and to Allah. And we might even have noticed that this administration does not believe in reality. It only believes in propaganda, in the big lie.
After being embarrassed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, among others, the administration released a less edited version of the transcript, including the references to ISIS but still using God instead of Allah. Obviously, this will offend Muslims, but the administration prefers to blame it all on God, for fear of offending or blaspheming Allah.
Since the administration has long succeeded in imposing its narrative on events—think Benghazi; think the Iran nuclear deal; think the IRS scandal—without paying any price, it makes sense that someone in the bowels of the White House thought that they could get away with this.
Anyway, the culture war is still going on between those who blame the Orlando massacre on ISIS and Islamist terrorism and those who are desperately trying to shift the blame to guns, the NRA, Republicans and Christians. Most importantly, under the Obama administration terrorist attacks have been proliferating. It might be time for someone in the administration to take some responsibility for it all.
Yesterday’s news cycle should have been dominated by these questions. The presumptive Republican candidate should have been front and center directing the blame where it should be directed. Sorry to say, but, in the midst of this crisis el Trumpo was spending his time defining what he really meant when he said that we shouldn’t allow any more Muslims into the country.
During the previous week, el Trumpo was trying to explain away his derogatory comments about a federal judge, comments that former supporter Newt Gingrich called “inexcusable” and that led Newt to call Trump a “gifted amateur.”
Now that Newt has been dropped from el Trumpo’s veep shortlist, he seems to have found his voice.
Speaking of amateurs, el Trumpo did manage to hijack yesterday’s news cycle by firing his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. You remember the thuggish Corey, a repulsive manhandler who succeeded, against all odds, in making his boss the presumptive candidate for the nomination. While many people were out defending Corey, the Trump spawn were horrified at the man. What a shock!
Naturally, the stories about Corey’s firing were filled with salacious details about the inner workings of el Trumpo’s campaign. People who sagely held back from criticizing the Republican candidate are now opening fire, as one should have expected.
Within el Trumpo Central, drama prevails. The campaign is underfunded and understaffed. El Trumpo only listens to his children. And, Hillary has been ascending in the polls. These are not good signs.
Now, el Trumpo’s supporters will tell you that the genius candidate is simply playing rope-a-dope. He wants the Clinton campaign to dissipate its fortunes in a futile round of attack ads. Then, he will bring out his big guns, that is, his personal fortune and go in for the kill against a diminished and weakened enemy. Surely, the Clinton political machine will exhaust itself attacking el Trumpo, while the Teflon Don awaits his turn.
Remember the time when el Trumpo declared that he would self-fund his campaign because he did not want to be beholden to special interests. He preferred being beholden to his own extensive knowledge of everything that has ever been known to man. Some of us doubted whether he was really as rich as he claimed to be, thus, whether he could come up with enough cash to run a major political campaign. Some of us also suggested that when you insult your opponents and your political party, many of them—and their supporters-- might not be forthcoming with aid and support in the general election.
Naturally, legions of el Trumpo supporters scoffed at these suggestions. They had Scott Adams on their side. But, last week the candidate was out trying to raise money. Hmmm. I wonder what that says about the earlier promises about self-funding the campaign?
Anyway, firing Corey Lewandowski has unleashed a flurry of stories, from left, right and center to the effect that el Trumpo is in trouble. The gifted amateur does not seem to know what he is doing. He did fine fighting it out against sixteen other candidates on the screen. Now he is going mano a mano with Hillary Clinton and he seems like the lesser man. The burning question is: will el Trumpo become the ultimate comeback kid or will he go down as the biggest loser?
The New York Times reports:
Donald J. Trump enters the general election campaign laboring under the worst financial and organizational disadvantage of any major party nominee in recent history, placing both his candidacy and his party in political peril.
Mr. Trump began June with just $1.3 million in cash on hand, a figure more typical for a campaign for the House of Representatives than the White House. He trailed Hillary Clinton, who raised more than $28 million in May, by more than $41 million, according to reports filed late Monday night with the Federal Election Commission.
He has a staff of around 70 people — compared with nearly 700 for Mrs. Clinton — suggesting only the barest effort toward preparing to contest swing states this fall. And he fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, on Monday, after concerns among allies and donors about his ability to run a competitive race.
The Trump campaign has not aired a television advertisement since he effectively secured the nomination in May and has not booked any advertising for the summer or fall. Mrs. Clinton and her allies spent nearly $26 million on advertising in June alone, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, pummeling Mr. Trump over his temperament, his statements and his mocking of a disabled reporter. The only sustained reply, aside from Mr. Trump’s gibes at rallies and on Twitter, has come from a pair of groups that spent less than $2 million combined.
Mr. Trump’s fund-raising for May reflects his lag in assembling the core of a national finance team. In the same month that he clinched the Republican nomination, Mr. Trump raised just $3.1 million and was forced to lend himself $2 million to meet costs. Some invitations to Trump fund-raising events have featured the same short list of national Republican finance volunteers regardless of what city the event is held in, suggesting Mr. Trump has had some trouble lining up local co-hosts.
Or, the Wall Street Journal, in an editorial:
Donald Trump seems to be trying to pack as many self-created crises as he can into the 20 weeks until Election Day, and a new installment arrived Monday as he suddenly fired his campaign manager. Campaigns ultimately reflect the candidate and his leadership, or lack thereof, and the shake-up will only make a difference if Mr. Trump recognizes how badly he is harming his own prospects.
Perhaps the termination of Corey Lewandowski,heretofore Mr. Trump’s most loyal aide who was present at the campaign’s creation, is his concession that his operation is dysfunctional. He allowed competing power centers to emerge, with Mr. Lewandowski anchoring one camp and the veteran Beltway operative Paul Manafort the other.
Their divisions over strategy and filling key positions have left Mr. Trump far behind Hillary Clinton on campaign basics like organization, staff, fundraising, digital voter outreach, policy development and much else.
To be fair, the Journal editorial page has not been cheerleading for el Trumpo. In today’s editorial it examines the mindset of the man who still has a decent chance of being the next president:
Mr. Trump appears to be convinced he can win the general election the same way he won the GOP primaries—namely, out of his hip pocket. The last month-and-a-half jump since Mr. Trump secured the nomination should disabuse him of the notion that the White House can be won with only a mass rally a day, free cable media and a lively Twitterfeed.
Instead of driving a disciplined message about the economy, national security and Clinton corruption, Mr. Trump has caromed on his own day-to-day instincts from the federal judge hearing the Trump University trial to his own alleged prescience about the attack in Orlando. He’s neglected to campaign in the battleground states he needs to flip to win, and he told NBC News over the weekend that the race won’t begin until after the Republican convention. That is not how politics works.
And the Daily Beast offers this account of where el Trumpo has been spending the money:
The amount of money raised by Trump, a little over $3 million in May, is dwarfed by the $76.8 million that Mitt Romney and the RNC announced they had collected in the same month of the 2012 campaign.
It’s not just the weak Trump fundraising game that should alarm supporters; the way the money is being spent has also raised eyebrows.
Analysis by MarketWatch suggests that around 20 percent of Trump’s campaign expenditure went directly to Trump-owned businesses or family members.
Trump’s campaign spent $423,371 on catering and renting space at Mar-A-Largo, Trump’s Palm Beach private members club where he also has his own private home.
There are also several payments listed for thousands of dollars directly to Donald J. Trump. One, for $15,000, is marked as rent, the others are listed as “payroll,” although it would be highly unusual for a candidate to pay himself a salary.
The campaign also spent money at Trump Plaza, Trump SoHo, Trump Café, Trump Grill, Epic Trump Wine Manufacturing, Trump Restaurants, Trump National Golf Club, Trump International Golf Club, Trump International Hotel, and Trump Ice.
Even before the latest extraordinary FEC disclosures, an experienced campaign-finance attorney told The Daily Beast that the Trump campaign’s spending pattern is unprecedented.
“It’s very common for candidates to loan money to their campaign. It’s even not unusual for a candidate to have the campaign purchase goods or services, usually rent, from an entity that’s owned by the campaign. But the scale here is completely different,” he said.
For my part I am convinced that this money was well spent on quality items that just happened to bear the name of el Trumpo.
Republican politicians are of course panicked by it all. They do not want to do down with the ship.
The Journal suggests one way out:
But the hard reality is that the problems with the Trump campaign aren’t Mr. Lewandowski’s fault. They are Donald J. Trump’s. If he wants to avoid a historic loss like 1984 or 1972 that costs the GOP its House and Senate majorities, he’ll take more instruction from political professionals.
If he doesn’t, don’t be surprised if unbinding the GOP delegates to choose another nominee at the July convention starts to seem like an urgent and attractive option to a growing number of Republicans.
Unbinding the delegates feels like a nearly suicidal gesture. An alternative is for el Trumpo to drop out of the race before he has to face an ignominious defeat. This feels far too rosy-scenario. Of course, if he wanted to save face he could drop out for health reasons, but that seems too pie-in-the-sky.
If el Trumpo decides that the campaign is like a Mexican prison perhaps, as improbable as it seems, he will find a way to escape.
It is most likely that el Trumpo will be the Republican nominee. Perhaps he will stage a comeback. Perhaps he will not. When you fire your campaign manager it means that you are not doing very well in the polls. For now the only question is: who do American people dislike less, Hillary or el Trumpo?
Whatever happens in the election the Republican Party will have suffered a dark night of the soul. Some of its officials might even conclude that they would have done better to nominate Lucifer himself.