“There are two different Donald Trumps,” Ben Carson said Friday as he endorsed the GOP front-runner. “There’s the one you see on the stage, and there’s the one who’s very cerebral, sits there and considers things very carefully. You can have a very good conversation with him.”
There are two Donald Trumps.
It was worth endorsing Donald Trump for Ben Carson to bring us this knowledge. He has seen people linked at the brain before. He knows what he has seen.
There is not one GOP front-runner, entrenched in Mar-a-Lago, but two.
One, The Donald, is loud and bombastic.
The other is quiet and cerebral.
One throws rallies where protesters get threatened and beaten up.
The other sees these rallies on TV and weeps for America.
One delivers all his speeches at a third-grade level.
The other has a large vocabulary and does the New York Times crossword puzzle each morning, sometimes in under three minutes.
The Donald is abnormally sensitive about his hands and will not allow them to be measured.
The other Trump’s hands are fine and normal.
The Donald is constantly making sexist comments about female candidates and debate moderators.
The other is “ahead of his time” in promoting women and welcoming them to the old boys’ club.
The Donald gives everyone he debates an insulting nickname.
The other has nuanced opinions about foreign policy that do not come down to “make good deals, not bad deals.”
The Donald denounces and mocks Hillary Clinton.
The other Trump invited her to his wedding.
The Donald made fun of a reporter’s disability.
The other Trump wrote that reporter a beautiful, handwritten apology.
But The Donald made him tear it up and eat it.
There was a time when there was only one Donald Trump. He was whole. He was content. But then he tried the serum in his Mar-a-Lago laboratory late one night and The Donald broke free.
And since then, there has been no peace.
Now he toggles wildly between them, creating mild havoc on the trail. This is why he will sometimes say one thing, and then the opposite of that thing, in the space of a few days or weeks or months or even minutes. He’s not flip-flopping. It isn’t that he’s come lately to conservatism.
It is that there are two of him.
If Donald Trump, on the campaign trail, appears to be a rampaging, uncontained id, it is because — often, not always — this is precisely what he is.
But the hours in which Trump prevails are fewer and fewer. The Donald gains strength from the applause of crowds, and he has that now, in abundance. Indeed, running for president was The Donald’s idea. (Corey Lewandowski was hired by The Donald and works exclusively for him.)
Sometimes the other Trump starts awake in horror and sees where he is, and how far he has come, and how close The Donald is to victory. He sits up in his chair and reaches for a pen and paper. “Ivanka! Quick! It’s me! We’ve got to stop him!”
But then the hideous change comes upon him.
When Ivanka arrives, it is only The Donald, grinning and babbling to himself, tossing a piece of balled-up paper into the trash.
Once you know the truth, there are subtle signs by which the difference can be known. The Donald will tear the head off a small mammal and drink its blood without breaking stride, whereas the other will — not do that. One of the Trumps appears to be sensitive to certain combinations of gluten and sunlight, but it is not clear which.
The Donald is the one the cameras love, but sometimes you can catch glimpses of Trump when the camera pans away. You can see, for just a moment, a man standing there with full knowledge and abject terror in his eyes.
But then it passes.
At Friday’s press conference with Carson, Trump himself confirmed that “I probably do agree. I think there are two Donald Trumps. There’s the public version, and people see that — I don’t know what they see exactly but it seems to have worked over in my lifetime.” (Cry for help indicated in italics.) “I’m somebody that is a thinker,” Trump went on, pitifully, “I’m a big thinker, and I have my ideas and they’re strong, and, you know, typically, they’ve worked out.”
But no one heard this cry.
And The Donald reasserted his dominance a few minutes later and corrected himself, sternly. “I don’t think there are two Donald Trumps.”
There will not be for long.