In this 24-hour news cycle, the conversation can shift in a day, and, more often than not, it finds itself in the seemingly most unlikely of places. Today, for example, we’re back with our old friend Anthony Weiner, but I can sum that up pretty quickly. Basically, Weiner is out again (ironically, it was Breitbart that first spotted him). This time, Trump is attempting to link it to Hillary Clinton, because Anthony Weiner’s wife works for her. Quite frankly, linking Hillary to Weiner (and any of the ensuing jokes) is just lazy, or, as I suppose Trump would call it, bigoted, because during the interview I wrote about last week with Cheshire Cat Anderson Cooper, Trump said he equates the two words. If that’s how language works, then I can think of a few substitutions I’d like to make for Mr. Trump.
Speaking of substitutions, if you’ve been following election news in the past couple weeks, then you’ve heard about Donald Trump’s campaign staff changes. (If you’re not interested in election news, then you’re either a diligent Bachelor in Paradise fan wondering if I’m going to write about roses again or a devoted personal friend or family member. Either way, I welcome and appreciate you.) But if you’ve watched any campaign coverage in the past two weeks, then you’ve heard the word “pivot” more times than when you watched Ross with that couch, and you’ve heard talk of what they’re calling Trump’s campaign “shake-up.”
Donald Trump has gone through a series of staff changes since announcing his candidacy for President. His first campaign manager was Cory Lewandowski, a guy who looks like he should be playing a secret service agent on Scandal, but not the kind that protects Fitz when he wants to go visit Olivia. No, Cory Lewandowski is definitely a secret service agent with a dirty past and a side contract with B613. I honestly assumed he was security when he shook off Michelle Fields, a reporter with Breitbart, when she approached Trump after a Florida rally. Even after Lewandowski turned himself in to Jupiter, Florida police on simple battery charges, Trump stood by him. “I can’t destroy a man,” he said at a Wisconsin rally shortly after the altercation. “He’s got a beautiful wife and children, and I’m not gonna destroy a man for that,” because if Trump believes in anything, it’s that having the most beautiful wife and children should protect you from all liability. And it was those very children who stepped in and encouraged Trump to fire Lewandowski (and, you know, less effectively, to start speaking like a Presidential candidate). Donald Jr. and Eric even sat in on the firing, as if forced screenings of The Apprentice weren’t enough training.
For a time, the role of campaign manager remained vacant (which should tell you everything you need to know about how much Donald Trump values the input of others), but the primary responsibilities were picked up by campaign chief Paul Manafort. Oh, Paul Manafort, a Frankie Avalon-looking fellow with some dubious ties to pro-Russian groups in Ukraine and, to be fair, a deep Republican background that helped Trump secure the nomination for a party that, at best, couldn’t show up for him. He was the brave man who denied plagiarism charges regarding Melania’s speech and gave us the Donald Trump who delivered full body turns in order to read off the teleprompters (why is no one looking into THAT health issue???). But Paul Manafort had to go as well so that I could introduce you to the new cast of characters.
Replacing Paul Manafort as campaign chief is Steve Bannon, chairman of Breitbart, a word I’d never heard before and have now typed too many times. I know you’ve come to know me as brilliantly hilarious, but I can’t be funny about this particular man. He’s printed headlines like “Hoist It High and Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims a Glorious Heritage,” “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy,” “Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control Movement’s Human Shield,” and “Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?” Those are all despicable, but while researching him, I came across an anti-lesbian/anti-women remark he made in an interview and decided I’d have to suspend my light heart for a moment. You can read it here, but I’m not typing it myself. This guy may overuse the word “dude” and sport cargo shorts and flip-flops, but he is not to be taken as a joke, and neither is the alt-right (which sounds like a computer command to me….ok, fine, one joke).
Shaking things up as the new campaign manager, a role left unattended in the wake of Cory Lewandowski’s departure/arrival at the CNN cocktail hour, is Kellyanne Conway. A pollster with a strong legal backround, a history of working with Republican super-PACS, most recently one for Ted Cruz, and what is being reported as an insight into the female voter, Kellyanne Conway may be the one most qualified and least inappropriate to be sitting at the table. She is also the one who is apparently already being ignored. I mean, she did say that rape wouldn’t exist if women were as physically strong as men, but she also made me smile every time she took down Kayleigh McEnany (you know, the Trump supporter whom the current Trump campaign manager couldn’t support). So, it’s a draw? She also bears a striking resemblance to Ivanka, which makes me wonder if Trump just hired her so he could squint and avoid a nepotism charge.
Finally, we have Roger Ailes, founder of Fox News, who had to step down as CEO when multiple women came forward alleging sexual harassment. The press keeps reporting that Roger Ailes is joining the team primarily to help Trump with debate prep, although I’m not sure what makes Ailes the debate expert, unless it’s simply his ability to take a punch, figuratively and quite literally, as it’s reported that he showed up for debate prep with a black eye. There are lots of things to say about this man, but at this point there is only one thing that we can say with absolute certainty; he looks like Jabba the Hutt. I am not a Star Wars fan, and I am not the first to say this. I don’t even say this to celebrate the cleverness of me. In this case, I am neither creative nor funny; it is just a simple fact. The man is Jabba the Hutt. And the thought of him sidling his Jabba body up to sexually harass a woman should make our collective skin crawl.
So, basically Trump broke down his psyche and hired its manifestations: alt-right dude, quasi-Ivanka, and Jabba the Hutt. And this should come as a surprise to no one, because in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, Trump would call the press saying he was either John Miller or John Barron, spokesmen or publicists raving about the wonder and magnetism that is Donald Trump. Perhaps he’s still doing just that, but on this international stage, he had to find actual humans to embody the impersonations. I’m still not convinced, though, that the doctor who found that his “laboratory test results were astonishingly excellent” isn’t just Trump in another terrible wig, sitting far more comfortably in a chair than the man himself. I dare you to tell me Donald Trump didn’t write this sentence in what he thought was doctor voice: “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”
But how is he adjusting to having a new team, albeit a cloney, creepy one? I imagine the scene in the room goes something like this:
Donald: Brain, we need to come up with an immigration policy.
Kellyanne: Donald, you can use us for help. My polling shows that women….
Donald: No, no. I have a great brain. My doctor says so. I have the best brain that anyone has ever had.
Michelangelo: Cowabunga, dude!
And then maybe someone either insults or assaults Kellyanne, because both Roger Ailes and Steve Bannon have been accused of both, while Kayleigh McEnany lurks behind a plant in an adjoining room, desperately pressing her ear against the wall to hear the magnificence of the man himself, quietly writing “Love Trump’s Hate” in perfect cursive with pink lipstick on the gold wall.
But, other than to enhance his already terrible character (it’s like adding an orange filter to an orange), why are they all there? That’s the real question. Apparently, their purpose is to “let Trump be Trump,” a phrase directly stolen from West Wing’s “Let Bartlet Be Bartlet,” but you, sir, are no Jed Bartlet. It was bad enough when Melania plagiarized Michelle Obama’s convention speech, but now you’ve come for my Sorkin, and I cannot abide.
In all your shaking, you’ve neglected to make room for a quaint little tradition in presidential campaigns, a tradition I admire and aspire to: the tradition of the speechwriter.
Let me show you how it works. On August 25, the candidates took to the stage, equipped both with their wits but also with what their teams had helped them build. Hillary Clinton delivered a moving indictment of both Donald Trump and his newfound comrades. The writers came up with this: “A man with a long history of racial discrimination, who traffics in dark conspiracy theories drawn from the pages of supermarket tabloids and the far dark reaches of the internet, should never run our government or command our military.”
Donald Trump’s team came up with this: “Call me Mr. Brexit.”
Not only is that terrible writing, but Brexit wasn’t a good thing! You don’t want to be Mr. Brexit! Maybe, DT, the reason your teleprompter doesn’t include a good speech is because when asked who your advisors are, you said, “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.”
No! This is not how politics works, and it’s bumming me out more than that sad November morning in 2000, when I awoke after a blissful sleep that began when I heard the announcement that Al Gore had won. Well, the time has come for me to make a most preposterous offer. I am hereby offering my speechwriting services to you, Donald Trump. I may not agree with anything you stand for, but I cannot let you do to the English language what you’ve done to the country. We ARE a law & order language, and if you’re not going to respect that, then I shall selflessly step in and do it for you. Understand that I will need to be handsomely compensated. (Translation: paid bigly.) And to be clear, I need to be paid in real money, not stock in Trump Steaks, not in Monopoly money, not in a commemorative brick in Trump Wall. No. Real money.
I can do good work for you, Donald. I may not have gone to Trump University, but I went to schools with equally fancy names where they taught me all the best words.
P.S. I’ll happily accept other, non-Trump offers. Let’s be honest; I’m blogging from my purple couch. I could use the work. But I like a challenge. Believe me.