Faced with this rolling catastrophe, the president knew just what he needed: a new campaign manager!
It’s beginning to look like President Trump himself is the only one who doesn’t realize he’s headed for defeat. Or perhaps he does. But let’s take a look at what’s going on with his campaign and his administration.
We begin with the fall of Brad Parscale, who went from designing websites for Trump family properties to running Trump’s digital efforts in 2016 to managing his reelection campaign. Parscale has been replaced by Bill Stepien, a former aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
But as everyone understands, the person really in charge of the campaign is Jared Kushner, whose brilliance is so encompassing that he has succeeded in achieving peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, ending the opioid crisis, reinventing government, and managing the administration’s response to the pandemic (all tasks he was assigned by Trump). What enormous good fortune that this extraordinary genius, the most talented man of our age, just happened to be the president’s son-in-law.
Parscale’s demise was probably inevitable. He had earned Trump’s suspicion by becoming fantastically rich via his association with the president, a fact the anti-Trump Lincoln Project mocked in an ad that apparently succeeded in rousing Trump’s ire. If there’s one thing Trump believes, it’s that he’s the only one who should be getting rich off his name.
But the truth is that while you can point to things like the debacle of the recent Trump rally in Tulsa, Parscale didn’t really fail. He was running the campaign Trump wants, and that campaign won’t change with someone else at the helm.
According to figures Parscale himself recently touted, the reelection effort has already spent a stunning $650 million. On what, you ask? A lot of it went into the bank accounts of tech companies. According to tracking by the liberal organization Acronym, the Trump campaign has spent $86.5 million on Facebook and Google ads, over twice as much as the Biden campaign.
And of course, some of it was simply fed right back into Trump’s pocket. The campaign and its affiliated groups have spent millions of dollars at Trump properties. Just like in any mob family, everyone has to kick some of their earnings up to the boss.
So what, precisely, is the new Trump campaign leadership going to do differently? Is there some brilliant stratagem just waiting to be discovered and executed?
Of course not. They’ll keep pumping out those Facebook ads, which will bombard voters who already support him with endless ragebait. Meanwhile, Trump falls further behind; a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows him trailing Joe Biden by 11 points, and a Quinnipiac poll has him behind by 15.
And what is his administration doing to make his reelection more likely? They waged a campaign against top infectious-disease specialist Anthony S. Fauci (which they’re now trying to walk back). They’re calling in officials from across the government for interviews to quiz them about their loyalty to Trump.
How about a new rescue package to deal with the continued economic devastation the country is suffering? Republicans in Congress are grudgingly getting around to it, with little input from the administration, which apparently can’t be bothered.
These are not the actions of a group of people who think they’re in a tight battle for their political lives.
The truth is that a campaign shake-up or a new strategy can’t save the reelection now. The problem isn’t Parscale or anyone else. It’s Trump.
He’s the one who dug himself into this hole, and he’s the only one who could get himself out. To do so, however, he wouldn’t need a new message or some biting tweets or a bunch of rallies. He would need to actually deal with the twin crises we’re suffering through.
Maybe he thinks it’s just too late, that he had his chance to get control of the pandemic and blew it, and now all he can do is pretend everything’s fine and hope his reality-distortion field spreads to encircle enough Republicans to get him to another squeaker of a victory. Or maybe he just can’t bring himself to do the work; he’d rather spend hours every day watching Fox News and tweeting about it than dealing with a bummer of a public health crisis.
He’s not the only one who has given up. These days, Republicans don’t even bother suggesting that he could make some kind of an effort to actually deal with the pandemic and the economic crisis. The more sycophantic ones will tell you that things are going great, and the others will dodge questions or say that what’s important is more conservative judges.
But no one suggests that Trump might do something different to stop so many Americans from dying and create a situation in which the economy is capable of reviving. They’d rather just insist that schools open and everyone get back to work, like a coach telling a player who just broke his leg to get his lazy butt back in the game.
So while Trump’s campaign may reshuffle its chairs, nothing will change, because Trump himself can’t change. And as we crawl toward election day, our national suffering will only increase.
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