Republican PrezCan Donald gave a speech in Charlotte, NC yesterday that contained the word "regret." For those two syllables at least, he honored the pledge he made when he accepted his party's nomination to be our voice. The language that surrounded "regret" was predictably unspecific, self-aggrandizing, and as indirect as any passive-aggressive if-pology has ever been. Despite his opening gambit—"As you know, I'm not a politician"—Trump is finally beginning to sound like one. The message was clear: The man who'll say anything to get a reaction has been brought to heel by the cabal of disgraced far right wing media baron pit vipers now handling his campaign. For now, anyway.
After a brief preamble, in which Trump bragged about his business acumen and his long history of community organizing (or "rebuilding neighborhoods," as he called it), he proclaimed his refusal to "learn the language of the insiders" or to be "politically correct," then had to pause for huge cheers. "Truthfully, it takes far too much time and can often make it far too difficult to achieve total victory," he said. Then it was time for the big mea culpa:
"Sometimes, in the heat of debate, and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don't choose the right words, or you say the wrong thing. I have done that. [long applause break] And believe it or not, I regret it. And I do regret it. Particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues, but one thing I can promise you this: I will always. Tell you. The truth."
Much like his desultory "outreach" to African American voters, this speech was a feint towards acknowledging the possibility that mistakes might conceivably have been made by someone who technically may or may not have been him if that's how you choose to look at it. And even if there had been a droplet of sincerity in his delivery (the smirks and applause breaks put the lie to that), it's simply too late for the guy who's been treating the wasp nest of lower-middle-class, uneducated, racist white American victim rage like a piñata for the past year to suddenly make amends.
There's an increasingy plausible conspiracy theory afloat that Trump replaced his braintrust for reasons that may not be entirely political. John Cassidy in The New Yorker:
The theory making the rounds is that Trump’s latest campaign reshuffle isn’t really about trying to win the election. In bringing in Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, and recruiting Roger Ailes, the disgraced former head of Fox News, as an adviser, Trump is making a business play: he’s laying the groundwork for a new conservative media empire to challenge Fox.
Fox has been getting pretty lefty of late...
The media empire play seems perfectly likely, but only as a back up plan. I just don't believe he's not in it to win it—which will either be his downfall or ours. He may have been dicking around at the beginning, but this speech signals a willingness—however blinkered and paltry—to do what he's told in an effort to seem presidential.To someone. Presumably. “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public," as Mr. Mencken famously wrote.
Or maybe he's just getting warmed up for his Seattle rally on August 30th. It's kind of a long shot, but you never know. That whole "sorry you're so offended" school of contrition is as popular as ever around these parts.Maybe by the time he gets to town someone on his staff can teach him the "Hey, sorry I haven't texted in a few months, my phone's being weird" trick.