David Remnick comments on Donald Trump’s cracked integrity
Donald Remnick comments in the New Yorker:
You have to say this for the crooked demagogues and reactionary populists of the American past: they may have stirred the bitter soup of nativist resentment with as much zeal as Donald J. Trump, but their family counselors did not take time out from politics to cruise the Aegean on a plutocrat’s yacht; their rhetorical counselors did not attempt, for decades, to instill fear in their employees through the most squalid sort of sexual terror; and their political counselors never worked in the interest of Slavic autocrats. Oh, Father Coughlin, we hardly knew ye!
Day by day, news bulletin by news bulletin, the Trump campaign spirals to new depths of strategic confusion and moral chaos. On the escalators at Trump Tower, the direction is always down, down, down.
At the center of the campaign is Trump himself, and, summoning the spirit of Sinatra’s most irritating song, he has made it clear that he will win or lose by doing it his way, by refusing to “pivot” or blandify his message and language. There is a kind of cracked integrity in this. No matter what the polls and cable gasbags say, he is going to be himself. “I am who I am. It’s me. I don’t want to change,” he told a local-television interviewer, in Wisconsin. “I mean, you have to be you. If you start pivoting, you’re not being honest with people.”
The people closest to Trump are his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner. Like the children of populist reactionaries the world over, they spent last week vacationing aboard David Geffen’s two-hundred-million-dollar collapsible dinghy, the Rising Sun, along with Rupert Murdoch’s former wife Wendi Deng. They Jet Skied and toured the old town of Dubrovnik. It is clear—both from legal documents and from Lizzie Widdicombe’s reporting—that Ivanka Trump and Kushner have occasionally been alarmed by the candidate’s public statements (particularly on Mexican “rapists”), but they are, despite their gestures toward feminism and social liberalism, completely committed to Trump and Trumpism. As their friend Reed Cordish put it, “They’re believers. They are all in. They have been all in from the get-go, without hesitation.”
With the polls suggesting a potential electoral wipeout in November, Kushner returned from Croatia and took part in meetings this past weekend that kicked Paul Manafort, the campaign manager, either upstairs or to the side of the road, depending on your reading of the spin. This announcement came shortly after the Associated Press broke the story that Manafort “helped a pro-Russian governing party in Ukraine secretly route at least $2.2 million in payments to two prominent Washington lobbying firms in 2012, and did so in a way that effectively obscured the foreign political party’s efforts to influence U.S. policy.” Under federal law, it is a felony if American lobbyists fail to report their ties to foreign political parties or leaders.
This story was just a new piece in a bewildering puzzle concerning the Trump campaign’s ties to, and the candidate’s own views on, the Putin regime. In an interview I conducted yesterday for “The New Yorker Radio Hour,” Jake Sullivan, Hillary Clinton’s closest adviser on foreign policy and national security, made it clear that the Russian issue would remain a focus of the Clinton campaign. Sullivan pointed to Trump’s statements excusing Putin’s anti-democratic behavior, his questioning of nato’s commitments in Europe, and his proposal that he might lift sanctions on Russia. “Those are just some of the examples of where the Trump campaign and Trump himself have gone out and basically adopted not just the position but the logic and the rhetoric of Vladimir Putin,” he said.
Sullivan added that the release of Clinton’s e-mails, almost certainly engineered by Russian intelligence, might only be a first step. “Given Russia’s track record and Putin’s track record, it would be folly to assume that there isn’t more that they would try to do to disrupt the election, more e-mails that they would put out,” Sullivan said. “We have to proceed on the assumption that that is going to happen.” . . .
Read the whole thing. Very interesting all the way through.