Whatever Kellyanne Conway is getting paid, it’s not enough.
Perhaps Donald Trump was always, at heart, a ladies’ man, but he has been doing much better since he put his campaign in Conway’s capable hands.
Then again, for all we know, the presiding genie behind the most recent Trump pivot is none other than Roger Ailes himself. Jonah Goldberg suggests it, and we are inclined to believe him. Whatever you think about Ailes, he is a genius at the art of political communication. Perhaps one of the great geniuses.
Would it not be ironic if the feminist outrage that got Ailes fired for sexual harassment at Fox News freed him up to take over the Trump campaign and deny Hillary the presidency?
So, we have a new improved Trump. Gone is the machismo, the bullying, the taunts and threats and intimidation. Gone is the name calling. For practically the first time Trump is acting more like a presidential candidate and less like a caricature.
Let us count the ways.
First, two days ago Trump expressed regret. Eating humble pie, as it used to be called, is clearly an important, even an essential first step toward transformation. I have written about it extensively, perhaps too extensively.
The prior Trump attitude, never explain, never apologize, was worthy of a schoolyard bully or a sociopath It was unworthy of a presidential candidate. It made him look small.
Second, Trump stepped down from his gold-plated aerie and visited flood ravaged Louisiana. Many people, myself included, had been appalled by President Obama’s failure to do so. Our president could not even acknowledge the horrors of the flood that had been drowning much of the state of Louisiana. Doubtless Obama was trying to ignore it, to run out the clock, so it would appear to be the responsibility of his successor.
If Obama sees himself as King Louis XV, the man whose favorite mistress once declared: After us, the deluge, he may see the Louisiana flood is a bad omen.
In any event, as Woody Allen said, most of what matters in life is showing up. And Trump showed up in Louisiana. For once he looked presidential. He looked like he gave a damn about something other than his bouffant hairdo.
For his part, Obama was on the golf course. His spokespeople rushed out to explain that if he went to Louisiana, his presence would disrupt operations. Strangely enough, George W’s spokespeople used the same argument when he flew over New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. And, at the time, then Senator Barack Obama denounced Bush for insensitivity.
Now his spokespeople, fraudulent to the last, are defending Obama's sensitivity.
Note well, however that Trump’s action has shamed Obama into getting off the links and on to a plane to Louisiana. This Tuesday is the day. As for Hillary, she’s resting at home with Huma.
Trump got it right because he communicated with a gesture. It’s always a good thing to do so, because you are showing, not telling. You are setting an example and not telling people what to do or to think.
Third, Trump addressed African-American voters with an argument that was brilliantly formulated and communicated. Asking for their votes, he ran through the record of the Obama administration and asked them: “What do you have to lose?
What do you have to lose? How much worse can it get? Why not try a Republican? It’s a powerful argument, made more powerful because it was communicated so effectively.
We cannot make America Great Again if we leave any community behind.
Nearly four in ten African-American children are living in poverty. I will not rest until children of every color in this country are fully included in the American Dream….
On education, we are going to give students choice, and allow charter schools to thrive. We are going to end tenure policies that reward bad teachers and hurt good ones. My opponent wants to deny students choice and opportunity, all to get a little bit more money from the education bureaucracy. She doesn’t care how many young dreams are dashed in the process….
Look at how badly things are going under decades of Democratic leadership – look at the schools, look at the 58% of young African-Americans not working. It is time for change.
What do you have to lose by trying something new?
Some people-- who think they know more than they do-- believe that the key to winning elections is manipulating people’s minds, exploiting their emotional vulnerabilities. There may be some truth to the proposition, but—call me a wild-eyed optimist-- I believe that an appeal to reason will, in the long run, be more effective.
“What do you have to lose…” is a brilliant formulation. It ought to be studied in courses about political communication. It respects the intelligence of African-American voters and asks them to reflect on what the Democratic Party has done for them. Have their lives improved under a president who cares more about his golf game than about people who put him in office?
Trump asked these voters to think, how much worse can it really get? He did not tell them to vote for him, but to consider voting for him. It might mean taking a chance, but, given the alternative, isn’t it a chance worth taking?
Like it or not, the Trump campaign seems to have been transformed. How long it will last no one knows. Since everyone is convinced that it cannot last, it probably will. At least it will until everyone is convinced that it can last.
Is it too little too late? No one knows that either. But surely, it is a positive step. Considering that some of us have been willing to point out every Trump misstep, it is good to be able to report some positive developments.
The next positive development for the Trump campaign would be firing Katrina Pearson.