Saturday Morning Post: The Weekly View from Washington
We’ve never had a New York tabloid superstar as a major party’s presidential standard-bearer. But it’s safe to say we can expect many more days like Friday, when Donald Trump’s old practice of assuming an alter-ego to serve as his own spokesman swallowed the news cycle. The presumptive Republican nominee no longer adopts an alias, yet he’s still feeding the media machine in double-time: His bygone outrages revive even as he mints new ones.
Is that promoting Trump or dooming him? The question points to one of the central riddles of his candidacy. Without his megawatt profile, it’s hard to imagine a figure with no previous political experience rolling over arguably the most talented Republican field in modern history — and with a platform, no less, that gores decades of conservative orthodoxy. But for all the evident appeal of that populist message, at least to a plurality of Republican primary voters, it’s overshadowed too often by distractions from Trump’s sky-scraping ego. The simple solution — the one dozens of vulnerable Congressional Republicans are rooting for, that Trump will rise to the moment and start behaving, as he’s said, “presidential” — assumes too much about either real human changeability or the candidate’s demonstrably lacking acting chops. In other words, no matter what he calls himself, for better or worse, Trump’s gonna be Trump.
That combustible mix of messenger and message now turns to confront an unsettled general election audience. We wrote in this space last week that Trump faces an uphill climb in the fall contest barring an economic cataclysm, given his historically high unpopularity among key voting groups and a jobless rate that keeps inching down while wages begin inching up. As a counterpoint, consider the study out this week from the Pew Research Center that found so far this century, the middle class is shrinking in nearly 90 percent of American cities, home to about three-quarters of the population. The decline has been most acute in communities with an outsize reliance on manufacturing. And they’re mostly in the Rust Belt, where Trump hopes to remake a Democratic-friendly map with his protectionist pitch. It will be competing with the pitchman’s irrepressible habit of stepping on his own lines.
• Trump faces problems on both sides of the border
Donald Trump isn’t just going to be facing opposition from Democrats this summer and fall; he’ll also be taking heat from Mexico. Officials in Mexico are working with US businesses to counteract the rhetoric the Trump campaign has used on immigration. Politico
• Republicans are coming to grips with Trump
While there are certainly still some #NeverTrump dissenters out there, it seems like much of the GOP is starting to come around on Trump. Even noted Trump-basher Lindsay Graham seems to be warming to him, based on his tweets this week. New York Times
• The Clinton Foundation is causing more problems
The Clinton Foundation continues to be a problem for Hillary Clinton. The latest scandal? News that in 2010 — when Clinton was Secretary of State — the Clinton Global Initiative, which was then a separate entity, gave money to a for-profit business run by associates of the family. Wall Street Journal
Around the Water Cooler
• Obama wants national voting holiday
Proponents of making Election Day a national holiday just got a powerful ally — President Barack Obama. Obama has said he thinks that making the day a holiday would encourage more people to head to the polls and vote. Slate
• Trump isn’t killing the GOP yet
With all the attention on the presidential election, it is easy to forget that both the House and Senate are up or grabs in November as well. There has been some concern that the Trump candidacy could hurt the GOP in down ballot races. Based on current polling, that doesn’t seem to be the case. FiveThirtyEight
• Donald Trump once pretended to be his own publicist
In what is clearly the most bizarre story of the week, audio has been published from the early ’90s where Donald Trump speaks to a reporter pretending to be his own publicist, bragging about his romantic success. Washington Post