On Wednesday morning, Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort appeared on CBS and sounded the death knell for the party of Lincoln and Reagan, boasting, “This is the Trump Party now.”
Manafort first lavished praise on his boss, limning him as someone who was acting as a conduit for the emotions of the American people. He said, “He saw what was going on in America. He understood the frustration and the anger, and he tapped into that. When the book gets written and you look back and you say why did everyone else miss it?”
Asked if Trump felt that he could trust his own instincts and act as though he didn’t need the GOP, Manafort blustered, “I think you’ve seen the convergence of the Republican Party, the national committee and the Rump campaign has been seamless. Trump understands that he’s the messenger. This is the Trump Party now. He’s the nominee of the party. Republicans have said we trust you to lead us into the elections this fall because we think you’re the strongest candidate and you have the best vision. The platform showed that; the delegates here showed that; the record number of votes he got in the primaries showed that."
Manfort's spin ignores some key facts: The record number of votes in the primary was because there were more votes cast across the board than in previous cycles; Trump set a record for the most votes cast against the top vote-getter, won a lower percentage of votes than anyone since Ronald Reagan in 1968 and was nominated with the eighth-lowest delegate percentage in Republican history.
Manafort continued, “So Trump understands he now has a responsibility that came together last night when he became the nominee. But he also understands it’s a movement, and he says it’s a movement.”
Then Manafort was asked to define what the “movement” was. He evaded any discussion of detail or any statement of principles that would define the movement, instead relying on nebulous emotional terms and promulgating the myth that Trump, the same guy who keeps promising to make deals and has been endorsed by the establishment, is really an outsider:
It’s people who are frustrated by being promised every election cycle that their lives are going to get better, that there are going to be changes by the government, that if you just give up your personal freedom, if you just give up control of your local communities to those faceless bureaucrats in Washington, that they care for you.
The attempt by Manafort to paint Trump as the funnel through which frustrated Americans can vent their frustrations is certainly accurate, but his assertion that the Republican Party is now the Trump Party can easily be likened to the Democrats’ cult-like hero-worship of Barack Obama. There was a noticeable absence of offering fealty to any positions that have been associated with the Republican Party. The generic perspective that Trump is a vehicle for frustrated Americans has been used from time immemorial by politicians who prefer to avoid offering details of exactly how they plan to change America for the better. And the attempt to paint Trump as an outsider borders on the ludicrous, as Trump has spent his career making deals, often with government officials.
The Party of Trump. Beyond the elevation of Trump to cult-like status, what does that truly mean?
Video below, with Manafort’s comments starting at 2:22: