A couple of weeks ago, New York’s Jon Chait described Donald Trump’s presidential campaign as a “managerial garbage fire.” That may have seemed harsh, but Chait was probably understating matters a bit.
There’s been quite a bit of coverage lately on Team Trump’s dysfunction, divisions, and amateurishness, but to fully appreciate just what a train wreck the operation has become, it’s important to take a peek behind the curtain. Bloomberg Politics reported yesterday:
An embattled Donald Trump urgently rallied his most visible supporters to defend his attacks on a federal judge’s Mexican ancestry during a conference call on Monday in which he ordered them to question the judge’s credibility and impugn reporters as racists.“We will overcome,” Trump said, according to two supporters who were on the call and requested anonymity to share their notes with Bloomberg Politics. “And I’ve always won and I’m going to continue to win. And that’s the way it is.”
For now, let’s put aside the wildly inappropriate misuse of the “we will overcome” phrase, which carries its own historic and emotional heft. Instead, let’s focus our attention on the more immediate issue: Trump is overseeing an operation that has no idea what it’s doing.
According to the Bloomberg Politics report, former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) – who has her own difficulties when it comes to race and ethnicity – told Trump during the call that his campaign had urged surrogates to steer the conversation away from the “Trump University” lawsuit that’s been the source of so much controversy.
The presumptive Republican nominee “demanded to know who sent the memo, and immediately overruled his staff.” Trump not only told supporters to ignore his own campaign’s advice, he also said he didn’t recognize his aide who circulates information to surrogates.
“Are there any other stupid letters that were sent to you folks?” Trump said. “That’s one of the reasons I want to have this call, because you guys are getting sometimes stupid information from people that aren’t so smart.”
He proceeded to urge his allies to go after journalists who question his reliance on racist rhetoric. “The people asking the questions – those are the racists,” Trump said. “I would go at ‘em.”
Taking his own advice, Trump sent a hand-written note yesterday to the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart, who is African American, telling him, “You are the racist, not I.”
On the surface, it’s hard not to wonder whether or not Trump is becoming unhinged. Reading this report, it’s genuinely frightening to imagine this candidate running the executive branch of a global superpower.
But just below the surface, let’s not overlook the fact that this call was limited to the Trump campaign’s top supporters, aides, and surrogates – and yet two of these folks were only too pleased to go to a reporter after the call to leak Trump’s comments and make him look ridiculous.
All is not well in Trump Land.