Did you hear that #Donald Trump is pivoting? Yes, that’s right- the Republican candidate has turned over a new leaf. He’s ready to be mature, to be presidential. He’s grown up.
We’ve heard this over and over again throughout the presidential campaign, every time Trump has switched campaign managers, has delivered a speech from a TelePrompter, has said anything even remotely conciliatory, or has done anything that doesn’t entail behaving like Donald Trump. This have happened five or six times already, and every time Trump has, within a matter of days, reverted into the rambling, obnoxious, racist version of himself that is by all indications the real guy. The political media falls for this every single time, and it never, ever sticks.
The immigration pivot
The latest example was this week, when Trump hinted at a moderation of his immigration stance. This was attributed in the press to the influence of new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, and shown as evidence that Trump has matured, and is ready to get serious- just as the round of stories following the hiring of Paul Manafort two months earlier. Just days later, Wednesday night, with his “major immigration speech” in Arizona, Trump had reverted to a maximalist anti-#Immigration stance, with the nasty tone to match.
You had the gross spectacle of Trump inviting the families of people killed by undocumented immigrants up on stage with him, as though that same trope couldn’t have been deployed against any minority group in the country, as an argument for the forcible removal of that group. It was vile, borderline-fascist stuff, and clearly the furthest thing from a centrist #pivot imaginable.
Not only are the serial pivots hard to take seriously, but they also show just how shallow Trump’s candidacy is. Remember how toxic flip-flopping was, back when John Kerry did it?
The myth of neutrality
Why does the political media fall for this? I believe it’s a combination of wanting to avoid the ever-present “liberal bias” charge, and of the media seeing it in their interest to present a presidential race that’s competitive, even if the one happening in real life isn’t.
The salient fact of the presidential race right now is that Hillary Clinton is leading, by a lot, and has been for some time. If the media wants to show what Trump needs to do to charge ahead, they should go right ahead. But they need to stop falling for one fake pivot after another.
Donald Trump is Donald Trump. He hasn’t changed in 40 years in the public eye, and he’s certainly not about to start changing now.