Trump Will Never Change

Alan Zendell, May 12, 2023

When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, those of us who believed he would be a disaster as leader of the Free World were assured by his supporters that once in office, the blustering, lying candidate, who demonstrated every day that he would pander to the most craven of us to gain their votes, would change. Like many presidents before him, he would move toward the center, moderate his language, and improve his image, perhaps even demonstrate compassion. It never happened throughout his presidency, it hasn’t happened since, and his seventy-minute Town Hall on CNN Wednesday evening made it clear that it never will.

CNN has been criticized for giving Trump all that free air time, but the network is trying to move its own image toward the center, and in any case, it’s hard to fault them for being more open minded. On its face, offering Trump an international stage on which he could respond to all the attacks he’s facing was a reasonable thing to do. If CNN was attempting to defuse some of the hyper-polarization in our country, however, they failed, although Trump’s performance made it clear that was an impossible task.

If they expected the forum to reveal anything we didn’t already know about Trump, they failed at that, too. Rather, Wednesday night’s Town Hall confirmed our worst fears and expectations. Trump’s entire campaign will simply be a repetition of his lies, an attempt to re-invent history, and Act Three of his shameless narcissism. He treated the Town Hall not as an attempt to demonstrate why he should again be elected president, but as a television show. It reminded me of the final scenes of the film, Quiz Show, in which RCA Chairman David Sarnoff addresses the federal investigator who proved that NBC’s (RCA owned NBC at the time) quiz show 24 was rigged. Expecting Sarnoff to be chastened, the investigator is shocked when he says, “we never claimed the show was honest. It was entertainment.”

That seems to be exactly the way Trump viewed Wednesday’s Town Hall. He was comedian, huckster, clown, and shameless liar. He played to the small audience of supporters who packed the hall and some of them (not all) laughed and applauded his jokes, delusions, and insults. The pundits keep telling us Trump has a total lock on the Republican nomination for 2024, and if you judged by the rabid enthusiasm of some of the audience at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, you might be inclined to agree. But look a bit further.

I wonder why CNN didn’t do more to assure that the audience, specifically the questioners, were representative of New Hampshire Republicans. In a small auditorium a loud minority can sound a lot bigger than it is. And unlike 2016 and 2020, many Republicans were not shy in blasting Trump afterwards. If you believe the press leaks, Democrats were ecstatic at Trump’s performance. In seventy minutes, he provided them with dozens of campaign ads straight from his undisciplined mouth.

After many years of working with sampling and statistical forecasting, I am confident that the polls that guarantee Trump’s nomination are misleading. How long will legitimate Conservatives and independents remain silent when Trump is personally indicted on serious felony charges in Georgia and by the Department of Justice? When it’s clear to everyone that no one but Trump’s sycophants believe his reckless claims? There will surely come a point at which it all sounds as old, tired, and pathetic as the man uttering them. If Trump were as good a showman as he thinks he is, he’d realize that he needs some new material.

Calling moderator Caitlin Collins “a nasty person” when she continually held his feet to the fire over obvious lies came off lame and trite – haven’t we heard all this before? I thought CNN made a brilliant choice having Ms. Collins on stage alone with Trump. She’s a skilled journalist, a talented interviewer, and an attractive woman who nearly matches Trump in height if not girth. The way he talked over her, attempting to dominate every interaction, particularly when the issue was his treatment of women, cannot have been lost on the millions of women who watched and listened. And the way she stood up to him, going toe-to-toe with a former president of the United States, had to be empowering for every woman who ever suffered at the hands of a male bully.

I was talking with a purple group of friends, yesterday, in which Republicans outnumbered Democrats, but all the Republicans harkened back to the days when most Republicans respected traditional Conservative values. We all agreed on the perfect scenario for November, 2024. Biden should select Liz Cheney as his running mate. I’d stay up late to watch those debates.

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3 Responses to Trump Will Never Change

  1. William Kiehl says:

    Trump has done well because he has given his followers permission to be their worst selves.

  2. Phil in York says:

    CNN chose Kaitlin Collins since she was “uninvited” from a press conference by the white house. She was asking questions Trump didn’t like.. The official report said she was yelling.

    I did worry about the state of America when Trump called her a nasty woman. And the audience CHEERED!

    I suppose everyone loves watching a train wreck!

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