If you turned on cable TV news Monday, chances are you caught Corey Lewandowski fibbing that he doesn’t know why Donald Trump fired him as his campaign manager.
Of course he knows.
In a series of interviews, Lewandowski dodged every question, including from CNN’s Dana Bash whether Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband had anything to do with his dismissal. Tensions among them were well-known to campaign followers, but Lewandowski said that was typical of all campaigns.
No doubt. But Lewandowski was a special case – he was more like a bodyguard/bouncer than a campaign manager. On Monday night, however, Lewandowski portrayed a humble, thoughtful, soft-spoken, gee-whiz guy who only wants to do the right thing for his country and get Trump elected.
Naturally, people wondered: How big is his golden parachute? And speculators wagered: He must have signed a confidentiality agreement. This is highly probable.
There’s no disagreement that Lewandowski had become a liability. His brash style, which reflected that of his employer, rubbed many the wrong way. Moreover, Trump’s campaign is in dire straits. His poll numbers are slipping and are below any candidate’s, Democrat or Republican, in the past three election cycles.
Adding to his travails, Trump’s campaign cupboard is relatively bare with just $1.3 million compared to Hillary Clinton’s $42 million. Something had to change and somebody had to take the fall.
Or so the obvious theories have gone.
Another plausible theory is far more cynical and seems more Trumpian. It wasn’t just money or campaign discord that got Lew the boot. He was fired as a sacrifice to one of the few constituencies Trump hasn’t insulted directly – and one he desperately needs – evangelical Christians. Could it be mere coincidence that one day later – on Tuesday – Trump met in New York with a congregation of about 900 Christian leaders to sort things out in advance of likely endorsements? That’s a rhetorical question.
The meeting was closed to media, especially The Washington Post, which Trump has banished from all events.
But one imagines that his metamorphosis mirrors Lewandowski’s. Just add “and-Jesus” after “country” and you’ll have a fair idea of how a new, improved Trump might appear. Not so much presidential as born-again.
This is how I imagine Trump’s handling of the meeting: “Look, I never meant any of those things I said, not really. Sure, we need to secure our borders and be smarter about immigration, but this doesn’t mean I dislike Mexicans or think they’re rapists, even though, I assume, some of them are.
“I just get carried away sometimes because I’m so passionate about making this country great again. God willing. Plus, to be perfectly honest, I was getting some really bad advice from my campaign manager and that’s why I had to let him go.”
Lewandowski was the problem all along, you see. He told Trump to act like a raging, misogynistic, xenophobic, racist. Cleansed of Lewandowski’s influence, he’s liberated to be his presidential self. And, in this new light, the evangelical community can justify supporting this unlikely bearer of civilization’s torch.
Not all will buy Trump’s reinvention. Just across town on the same evening, another group of faith leaders gathered with members of “Better for America,” a new organization aimed at finding and funding an alternative to Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Barring divine intervention, they’re probably too late. Then again, miracles can happen. A penitent, born-again Trump would certainly be one.