Donald Trump, method actor? Be skeptical

The Observer editorial board

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally Thursday in Harrisburg, Pa.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally Thursday in Harrisburg, Pa. AP

So it turns out the whole crude, race-baiting, women-belittling Donald Trump thing is an act?

That’s what his new chief strategist, Paul Manafort, seemed to say Thursday in a meeting with members of the Republican National Committee.

The Washington Post obtained a recording of the meeting, in which Manafort said Trump had been playing “a part” on the campaign trail but would soon transform into a more presidential candidate.

“The part that he’s been playing is now evolving into the part that you’ve been expecting,” Manafort said.

That might be troubling news to supporters who admire the Republican frontrunner because he famously “tells it like it is.” If Manafort’s telling the truth, they’re the ones who have been played.

What’s more likely is that the campaign is trying to soothe the nerves of the Republican establishment, just as Trump will try to comfort voters who’ve given him historically bad favorability numbers.

It’s far from the first time a presidential campaign has attempted to veer sharply toward the center in preparation for the general election. Just four years ago, Mitt Romney’s top advisor, Eric Fehrnstrom, said that positions taken by the Republican frontrunner were “almost like an Etch a Sketch.”

But if Trump has been playing a “part” these recent months, it’s the same act he’s been putting on for many years. You don’t have to plunge too deep into Google, for example, to find evidence of Trump’s crude sexism.

So no, we don’t think he’s a fraud. He’s just an unsuitable candidate for president.

Schilling whiffs

Curt Schilling struck out 3,116 batters in his 20 years in the major leagues. So no one knows better than he does: Three strikes and you’re out.

In August, Schilling fired off a tweet featuring Adolf Hitler and comparing extremist Muslims to Nazis. Strike one.

Last month, he told a Kansas City radio station that Hillary Clinton “should be buried under a jail somewhere” for her classified email problems. Strike two.

Last week, he posted an offensive photo of an overweight man wearing a wig with his chest exposed and said people who want protections for transgender people are “pathetic.” Strike three.

ESPN fired Schilling Wednesday. Yes, Schilling has a right to free speech. And ESPN has a right to fire high-profile, well-paid people who sully the company brand. Most fans want to hear Schilling talk baseball. If he wants to repeatedly spout off on social and political issues, he can find a better forum than ESPN.

After he was suspended for his Muslim/Nazi tweet, Schilling apologized, saying “100 percent my fault. Bad choices have bad consequences and this was a very bad decision in every way on my part.”

This was yet another one. No one comment was enough to warrant dismissal. But the pattern finally became too much. The mighty Schilling has struck out.