Fox News anchor Bret Baier tweeted this quote from Donald Trump's recent interview with Greta Van Susteren, prodding me to snark that it'll be fascinating to watch Trump's cult of personality cheer on his inevitable mass amnesty proposal:
Donald Trump asked tonight about his language --"I will be changing very rapidly. I'm capable of changing to anything I want to change to"— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) February 11, 2016
In fairness, if you watch the clip, it's seems like he's mostly referring to his conduct on the campaign trail. His "rapid change" comment comes in the context of being challenged on whether dropping F-bombs and amplifying an audience member's mockery of Ted Cruz as a "pussy" is presidential behavior. Don't worry about that, Trump says. I'll clean up my act "as I get closer and closer to the goal:"
Lest he disappoint any of his fans who openly delight in his crass outbursts, calls for roughing up protesters, and overall boorishness, Trump tosses out some chum decrying "political correctness" midway through his answer. But he's also sworn up and down that at a later stage of this process, he'll transform himself into "the most politically correct person you've ever seen." Two problems here: (1) Video tape is a thing that exists. All of Trump's antics -- from the silly to the serious -- can be instantly called to mind in a general election through ads and online content, even if the billionaire drastically changes his tone. Even if Trump disciplines himself to play an angelic choir boy for weeks on end, the public record still exists. Democrats are giddily compiling a lowlight reel, itching to deploy it in the fall in order to underscore the point that Trump is unfit to be president. Many Americans, especially in key voting blocs, are already heavily predisposed to agree with that proposition.
(2) Trump's self-assessment that he's "capable of changing to anything I want to change to" also applies to his political "principles." This is a man who's reportedly switched party affiliations five times since the late 1980's. Who's donated to Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Who was pro-choice, was anti-gun, and was (is?) pro-Socialized healthcare. Who identified as a Democrat in the mid-2000's. Who praised Barack Obama and supported his "stimulus" boondoggle. And who criticized Mitt Romney for being too harsh on the issue of immigration in 2012, right around the time that he became a DREAM Act supporter. Now he's ostensibly all about big walls and mass deportations. This bogus transformation is painfully obvious. As I've written before, Trump will be "a conservative" for precisely as long as he perceives that label to be beneficial to Trump, after which he'll morph into The Donald 6.0, or whatever self-serving upgrade we're up to. Even on the central issues that have vaulted him to the top of the GOP polls, he's quite "capable of changing to anything" he wants to change to. He says so himself. His hardcore sycophants will blindly and brutishly go along with literally anything he does -- including murder, he's joked, mocking his own people. But how might the many pro-Trump voters who are more reluctantly in his corner because "at least he'll do X" react if X suddenly changes to Y, at the drop of a hat? Or is thoughtlessly discarded altogether? That's how he operates.
In fact, in order to disqualify principled policy critiques from Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and others, Trump is expanding his diagnoses of what ails the GOP to include conservatives. Everyone's part of the problem, you see. Except for him. He's here to fix everything. So strong, so fast, so amazing -- believe him! That phrase, "believe me!" is a Trump staple. But why should anyone believe a political chameleon who brags about how effortlessly he shifts and flips? Most political flip-flops are executed for a specific purpose, and the flip-flopper asks the audience to believe that he now earnestly and fervently holds his new position. In Trump's case, he's reversed himself on a wide array of issues, and is effectively promising that he'll pull off additional reversals if and when the time comes. After all, he's a dealmaker, first and foremost. I'll leave you with two ads the Cruz campaign is running against Trump in South Carolina. The first is a non-traditional spot needling Trump's many betrayals of conservative ideals and marriages of political convenience. The second is a hard-hitting broadside against Trump's history of eminent domain abuse, smartly seeking to puncture the celebrity billionaire's populist cred. Message: Donald Trump has always been out for himself and will do anything, and collude with anyone, to serve his own myopic goals -- including collaborating with government cronies to try to bully a widow out of her home so he could build a parking lot for limousines at his casino (which struggled mightily with debt and eventually shut down):