Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination Thursday when a ragtag group of unbound delegates announced they were going to support him. All the networks ran with breaking news and trained their cameras on an empty podium for hours waiting for Trump to appear before the press and bak in his glory. It was a magical moment. True, everyone had known for weeks now that Trump was going to be the nominee since all of his rivals have dropped out of the race but why let that stand in the way of an opportunity to obsess over his every incoherent insult and rant? As they waited, the big topic of conversation among the TV chatterers was an interview by Howard Fineman with Trump’s campaign chairman and chief strategist Paul Manafort. And it was admittedly a doozy.
When I wrote about Manafort earlier I concentrated on his long history of working with slash and burn political consultants and foreign tyrants. He is uniquely qualified to head up Trump’s operation. But it’s been a while since he’s been involved in American politics and it was unclear if he had lost his touch. The interview with Fineman raises more questions about that than it answers.
Fineman quotes Manafort saying that he thinks this election will be a cakewalk:
"This is not a hard race.”
That’s the kind of confidence one would expect of a Trump adviser. But it’s a little bit weird considering he also says “you don’t change Donald Trump. You don’t ‘manage’ him.” That sounds like a contradiction in terms — if they can’t “manage” Trump then it’s hard to see how this race isn’t going to be a challenge since the man is a walking time bomb.
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