David Axelrod did a tight but thorough analysis on CNN of Trump's mishaps, but he misfired on the conclusion.
As for the narrative, one would expect nothing less from a seasoned political veteran with a front row seat to the weirdest election in anyone's memory. However, his conclusion that "Trump is just being Trump" is wrong. (If you haven't read the article, do it now. It's a super quick read.)
Yes, Trump is just being Trump. But to conclude that he's not trying to "throw the race," in other words, Trump is staying true to himself, misses understanding the man, or dare I say, the Maestro.
As even my 10-year-old can surmise, in the words of Axelrod, Trump isn't acting in his own best interests, "... if Trump were plotting to throw this race, he would not have behaved any differently than he has for the past six days." We all agree on that.
But let's back up.
For all his apparent faults, Donald Trump is nobody's fool. He's a successful, shrewd businessman. I'm not taking a position on the man, the efficacy of his behaviors or the type of campaign he's running. I'm simply saying that to make a billion dollars -- or seven or three or whatever the number is -- you've got to have a high degree of business acumen. Even dumb luck doesn't extend that far.
In short, all I'm claiming is that he's intelligent.
But here's the rub. He's a businessman, and he's concerned about one thing, money. And what better way to boost your money-making potential than to expand your global brand? And under the moniker of there's no such thing as bad publicity, he's gotten a level of notoriety and global coverage that he couldn't buy in 10 lifetimes.
As far back as March of this year, The Times estimated his free media at $2B (and it appears that was just in the US). What's the number now? $4B? $8B? Add to that the value of his increased global brand recognition, who knows what it might reach? $15B doesn't seem unreasonable. From a marketing perspective, it puts Newt Gingrich's rather transparent run-for-POTUS-in-order-to-hawk-a-few-more-books-strategy to shame.
Mark Cuban said as much last month with reference to the best scenario for Trump.
I'm sorry, and that's not an apology, but a smart, highly successful businessman doesn't alienate multiple constituencies, lose the largest source of Republican political capital and the few political allies he has⎯as if his word choice regarding not endorsing Paul Ryan wasn't finely tuned⎯because he's unable to control his emotions or he's reckless or he's stupid (or however you want to characterize his behavior).
Nope, not buying it.
Trump is being Trump. Calculating, profit-minded, entrepreneurial. Which means, regardless of the psychology, there's really only one conclusion.
Sorry America, but we're the fiddle and D-Trump is the Maestro.