CLEVELAND ― Donald Trump’s top lieutenant kicked off the Republican National Convention on Monday morning by contemptuously dismissing John Kasich, the Republican governor of the host state, as a “dumb” crybaby and sore loser; by threatening to crush “recalcitrant” delegates; and by dismissing the Bush family as a brand to avoid rather than embrace.
So it wasn’t surprising that Paul Manafort ― clearly wanting to show his boss that he, too, could be a “strong” leader ― oversaw the muscle job that prevented anti-Trump delegates from mounting a minority challenge to convention rules.
Donald Trump is not a party guy, or a political guy in any recognizable American sense. He couldn’t care less about the present or future of the Republican Party, let alone arcane rules of procedure.
What rebellious delegates tried to do later on Monday was force a roll-call vote on the rules, in hopes of gaining a little more time to talk around their Trump-supporting counterparts.
But GOP and Trump officials contended that some of those who had signed petitions calling for a roll-call vote had, at the last minute and at the prompting of the GOP’s floor whip team, signed another petition to remove their names ― and thus moot the move by their foes.
We’ll see if anyone can follow that paper trail.
The Trump forces have evidently decided they cannot under any circumstances take their boots off the neck of the convention, lest it somehow, someway, get away from them.
That attitude betrays a contempt for the very mechanics by which Trump himself managed to force his way onto center stage as a presidential candidate, even though he had never run for office before. He’s the cowbird of politics: He lays his eggs in the nests of other birds that he then pushes out of their homes.
But the risks he runs are twofold.
One is that Trump will so bottle up the emotions of doubting delegates that he could cause a political explosion in Cleveland.
The other is that sullen Republicans in key states he needs to win the presidency will sit on their hands in the general election. Among the delegates who wanted to get a roll-call vote Monday were those from Iowa, Virginia and Colorado ― three toss-up states that Trump desperately needs to win. Members of the Colorado delegation walked out in protest after the rules were approved on a voice vote.
Trump’s actions today betray a lack of confidence, even as he claims to be the most confident man in the world.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims ― 1.6 billion members of an entire religion ― from entering the U.S.