U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at a "Thank You USA" tour rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S. December 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File photo
MIKE SEGAR

Without a hint of irony, Team Trump decries ‘the permanent campaign’

Kellyanne Conway, one of Donald Trump’s senior advisors, has no use for reports that Russian officials intervened in the American presidential campaign, helping her boss take office. Her pushback, however, could use a little work.

Conway insisted this week, for example, that the only people who are deeply concerned with the apparent attack on the U.S. political system are “people who want this to be the permanent campaign.”

Just 24 hours earlier, Donald Trump hosted the latest in a series of self-congratulatory campaign-style rallies in celebration of himself. Indeed, since Dec. 1, the president-elect has organized self-indulgent campaign-style events in Cincinnati, Fayetteville, Des Moines, New Orleans, Grand Rapids, West Allis, and Hershey – an average of a rally every other day for two weeks – with an eighth rally scheduled for Orlando today. Trump is the first president-elect in American history to interrupt his own transition period to hit the campaign trail for a multi-stop tour in which Trump speaks at length to his followers about how impressed he was with his candidacy.

What was that Conway was saying about the “permanent campaign”?

What’s more, at these campaign-style stops, Trump continues to relitigate the election he already won. Last night in Pennsylvania, for example, he even boasted that he won “a landslide victory,” despite the fact that we know this is obviously a silly lie.

This morning on Twitter, Trump kept the campaign going some more, whining, “Are we talking about the same cyberattack where it was revealed that head of the DNC illegally gave Hillary the questions to the debate?”

First, a pundit giving a candidate a tip about a primary debate question is not “illegal.”

Second, Donna Brazile was not head of the DNC during the Democratic primaries.

Third, responsible leaders should be more concerned with a foreign adversary attacking the American political process than with other party’s primary trivia.

But even putting all of this aside, what we see with Trump is someone who’s still clinging to his pre-election talking points, repeating the same nonsense he used as a candidate, even when he should be preparing for the world’s most difficult job.

This is part of a pattern. Circling back to our previous coverage, Trump just can’t break free of campaign mode, in part because he doesn’t know what to do now, and in part because he actually seems to enjoy being a candidate.

Trump doesn’t actually have time for these rallies, but these events remain a priority because his focus is on being a celebrity superstar, not rolling up his sleeves and tackling unglamorous tasks. The New Republic’s Alex Shephard put it this way: “Donald Trump, a man who has a very short attention span and requires instant gratification more or less constantly, loves campaigning because he has a very short attention span and requires instant gratification more or less constantly.”

And so, even though the campaign ended last month, it will continue, indefinitely. The concept of a “permanent campaign,” which Conway derided, has always been based on the idea that the next election cycle begins immediately after the previous cycle ends, making governing extremely difficult, but Trump is ushering in the Permanent Campaign 2.0 – in which the incoming leader remains a candidate, not because he’s worried about losing in four years, but because he simply prefers being a candidate to being a president.


Donald Trump

Without a hint of irony, Team Trump decries 'the permanent campaign'