Seems like hardly a nanosecond ago Donald Trump, the Republican front runner, sounded like an ignorant, intolerant, sexist, racist buffoon. And since his big win in the New York primary last week, he's put much of the nastiness on hold and, according to the mainstream media, is sounding more "presidential." Talk about setting the bar low.
Welcome to Trump's new reality show: The Pivot. In a flash, he's all but replaced his controversial campaign manager Corey Lewandowski with Paul Manafort, the embodiment of the very political establishment which Trump excoriates, a theme on which he's built his entire campaign; a campaign fueled by the candidate's Morton Downey-esque blistering persona and incendiary rhetoric.
But now Trump appears to be on a calculated mission to make nice with the GOP, RNC chairman Reince Priebus, and moderate voters in an attempt to win enough delegates (preferably the 1237 minimum) to win the nomination and avoid an all-out war at the party's convention this Summer in Cleveland.
Manafort, who cut his teeth delegate-hunting in 1976 for President Gerald Ford, dropped a bomb last Thursday while addressing about 100 RNC members in a closed-door meeting in Hollywood, FL. He 'assured' the group that Trump's campaign thus far has been an act. That he's been playing a "part."
"He gets it," Manafort told RNC members. "The part that he's been playing is now evolving into the part that you've been expecting. The negatives will come down, the image is going to change, but 'Crooked Hillary' is still going to be 'Crooked Hillary.'"
The Pivot even had Trump criticizing North Carolina's recent "bathroom bill." When asked whether well known transgender reality star Caitlyn Jenner would be free to use any bathroom she wanted in Trump Tower, he said, "That is correct."
The big question raised by The Pivot is, what happens when a candidate like Trump, whose 'authenticity' and anti-establishment bona fides have been the primary source of his appeal, suddenly appears inauthentic and very establishment? And how will his legion of angry blue-collar white dudes feel about their hero's new open bathroom policy?
Trump's rabidly loyal fans will surely be put to the test now. Will these same folks, who've unequivocally excused and defended his inflammatory rhetoric over the past year, accept an abrupt shift to the center by "Lyin' Donald?" Have his comments about North Carolina and Caitlyn Jenner stunned them into re-thinking the 'truer' conservative Ted Cruz? Does Trump now appear like the closet Democrat many have suspected him to be all along?
Stay tuned to The Pivot. The next episodes promise to be quite titillating...