— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) August 20, 2016
Trump’s trip to Louisiana will still likely be remembered as one of the smarter things he’s done during this campaign. But even in doing it, he and his campaign betrayed their tendency to use a heavy hand as a default.
A big reason Trump’s speech Thursday night in Charlotte worked so well was because it was more subtle and less controversial, while also maintaining some of the appeal that is uniquely Trump. He avoided controversy and projected a more humble, statesmanlike figure.
He projected. He WASN’T, of course, but we can’t come right out and say that, not if we want to still maintain the fiction that there are two parties both operating within the same general set of rules. He wasn’t a more humble, statesmanlike figure, but he managed to act like it for a while.
He seemed presidential. Which apparently is all it takes.
During the primaries I was yelling on Twitter at increasing levels of volume for someone, anyone, to name an actual policy difference between Donald Trump and any of the other Republican candidates. I’m not talking about semantic shit like “he says build a wall and all I say is deport everybody, and by the way I think some Muslims are okay.” I’m talking about an area in which another Republican candidate believed something fundamentally different about a major issue of the day. Gun control, abortion, military intervention, health care, anything. Strip off his stupid Muppet fur and make him read from notes, and how is he any worse than any of the rest?
If Marco Rubio was here right now we’d be dealing with the same nonsense in a shittier suit.
So spare me the idea that there is some way in which Donald Trump, having STARTED HIS CAMPAIGN CALLING MEXICAN IMMIGRANTS RAPISTS, can now read something from notes and we will react with this weepy relief that we don’t have to update the script. If Donald Trump, tomorrow, disavowed everything he ever said and submitted to some kind of Star Trek mindwipe, those who cover politics would still be under no obligation to indulge his desire for a clean slate.
He doesn’t get to go back, and neither do we. He doesn’t get to do one on-its-face non-shitty thing and all is forgiven, we can just forget that he doesn’t think libel laws are real stuff we need. That’s not how this works. If Hillary Clinton is going to be held accountable for every single bit of extramarital strange her husband dick-tripped into, then we should at the very least be able to keep in mind stuff Donald Trump said six months ago.