Just how gullible does Donald Trump suppose the American voter is?
The billionaire showman has been the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for only a couple of weeks, yet his general election strategy is already becoming clear: hope for a mass nationwide outbreak of short-term memory loss. His top strategist, Paul Manafort, has said that the “part that he’s been playing is evolving.” But this isn’t evolution – it’s reincarnation.
That call Trump made “for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”? Turns out that was “just a suggestion,” he now says.
The federal minimum wage increase, which he repeatedly opposed? Now he’s “looking at” an increase, he says.
The massive tax cut he proposed during the primary, which analysts said would add $10 trillion to the federal debt? Never mind!
Those tax returns he promised “certainly” to release? Not going to happen, he says now.
One of his key surrogates, Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., now declares that he doesn’t expect Trump to build a border wall or deport 11 million illegal immigrants – the cornerstones of Trump’s primary campaign. The congressman told The Buffalo News that Trump would build a “virtual wall” and that his deportation plan was “rhetorical.”
Remember all those companies Trump blasted for sending jobs overseas? Ford was a “disgrace,” Disney had “outrageous” practices, Carrier deserved higher taxes, Apple should be boycotted because it didn’t help the FBI in a terrorism case, and Trump’s never eating an Oreo again because Nabisco outsourced. Financial disclosures last week showed Trump has invested in all of the above.
Or his incendiary claim that women who have abortions should face criminal punishment? What he really was saying was “women punish themselves,” he told The New York Times Magazine.
Trump, who previously boasted that “I don’t have pollsters” because “I want to be me,” hired a pollster, Tony Fabrizio.
Some of those who backed Trump must feel like suckers. But will his clumsy effort to somersault into the mainstream appeal to the rest of the electorate? Perhaps. Yet it also reaffirms the biggest worry about Trump: He has no mooring other than self-love – and that’s why he’s dangerous.
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.