Donald Trump is known for his spontaneous speechifying, for spewing populist rhetoric in boundless stream of consciousness. He’s noted for his loose pontifications, meandering demagoguery just redolent with disapproval, innuendo and accusation, rife with malediction, derision and disparagement, tinged by hubris, racism and slander, highlighted in anger, intolerance and turmoil. For a year now the whole world has borne witness to it.
Suddenly, though, at a Trump rally in North Carolina on 8/18, hours after a dramatic change in Trump campaign leadership, the candidate gave a more disciplined, more cohesive and much more presidential speech than he ever has before.
Can this speech, a huge if somewhat convenient departure from the rabble-rousing speeches of his sordid past reflect a sudden transformation in Trump’s personal makeup? Has Donald Trump changed? Can the mention of regret by an erstwhile impenitent bully for a year’s worth of impudence, untoward antics and unspeakable slurs signal newfound grace, prove belated if no less earnest circumspection and remorse? I don’t see how.
Trump has taken no jolts to the system quite seismic enough to make the leopard change his spots. I’ll wager that the man behind the newly-ordered words is unchanged, unrepentant, uninspired, untouched. I think Trump has merely gone underground. I think he’s simply opted for the optics, nothing more. He’s moved to conceal those ugly spots for the moment, look better groomed, let his image (keyword image) be spun into something better fit for broad consumption under the auspices of a one bolder fist at the helm.
A quick image overhaul is not character evolution. The turn to sober language is not a change of heart. One dignified speech all of a sudden does little to erase a whole year of ignoble sentiment. Saying out of the blue whatever comforts the ear can’t conceal the speaker’s proven identity. No amount of damage control can mend the tarnished image of a visible, now well-studied Donald Trump.
Steve Bannon cannot mask sufficiently the brash, haughty, devious and overweening cad whom Donald Trump remains and who, even if he doesn’t quite host the high contagions of ethnic, religious and sexual bias, does court, indulge, dispense and fan the flames of all these grievous wrongs.
Trump fuels that prejudicial anger and intolerance which is tantamount to hatred and violence. He does so quite consistently and effectively, not so much with blatant hate mongery as with more subtle weapons like racist rhetoric, divisive solicitation, emboldening innuendo and that omnipresent, inspirational swaggering ascendancy of the outright, dyed-in-the wool supremist.
Donald Trump remains the very miscreant he was before his latest speech, the same vicious, vacuous, vituperative vipor, same panderer to bigots, misogynists and xenophobes, identical purveyor of doom, fear and slander that Donald Trump has always been. Guaranteed.
Unfortunately, narcissism, arrogance, ignorance, autocracy, recklessness, profanity and bigotry, vile traits intrinsic to this one specific rich, spoiled, dyed-in-the-wool, uniquely insular septuagenarian, will not vanish overnight. Of course Trump has been admonished for them all and there’s a sage old adage: If three people say you’re sick, lie down. Donald Trump never does lie down, however. In fact the strange candidate seems eerily impervious to public criticism. He neither sees nor acknowledges his flaws and considers even negative commentary good publicity. He’s obstinate too. He seems to feel little outside pressure to lie down. Perhaps this obstinacy derives from a stubborn self image or an element of narcissism itself. Nevertheless, I trust in the wisdom of the race. In the end it’s pretty simple anyway, despite how pundits like to harp on public image and the need for phony speeches to promote it. It’s not the mere speech but the man behind the speech who must ultimately prove presidential. Good luck with that one, Donny.
–♦©M. D. Phillips–awincingglare.com