It is fascinating -- if not troubling -- to watch and listen to Donald Trump as he makes his way through this 2016 presidential election cycle.
It is fascinating because Mr. Trump is so out of control. The GOP cannot contain him or control him. Paul Manafort, presumably a guru when it comes to running successful campaigns, has not been able to keep him "on message," and neither has anyone else.
No matter what he says, his supporters defend him shamelessly, so much so that it is troubling to watch. To be fair, Clinton supporters defend her, too, but there have been some mea culpa moments in the Clinton camp. Not so for Trump.
He is sliding in the polls -- for now -- and in a departure of praising and lifting up poll numbers as the proof of his popularity, he now says that if he loses, it will be because the election was rigged. (If the poll numbers reverse, it is highly likely that he will again point to the polls as indication that the election trajectory is on point.) He has so rattled the Republican Party that Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus reportedly issued a warning to him -- that if he doesn't get his poll numbers up the Republican party may pull its support of him. An article in Time magazine said, "In calls last week, Priebus delivered a message to Trump warning that the party may be forced to refocus its efforts on down-ballot candidates if Trump doesn't turn his poll numbers around. The implication -- that the party could abandon Trump as it seeks to hold onto the Senate and the House..."
Trump seems unbothered. As he apparently wrestles with whether to listen to presidential campaign veterans or to his own gut and his millions of followers, his gut and followers win out. He continues to do and say what he wants, but when, or as, he does that, and it is covered by the media, he begins to pout and complain, saying that the media is being unfair and is mistreating him.
All of his television pundit supporters, who never see anything wrong with what he says or does, jump on "it's the media's fault" bandwagon when Trump hangs himself using his own words. One moment they are praising him for saying what he feels, and then, when he says what he feels and takes a hit they accuse the media of being unfair and quickly remind everyone that "Mr. Trump is not a politician."
Yes, he is. He is playing the political game as well as can any "veteran."
It is the strangest thing I have ever seen.
Due to the vastness of broadcast media, reporters take the exact words of people and play them. Interpretation of the words are really up to the hearer; while a particular angle can be stressed, in the end, it is the personal interpretations of words heard that either give them life or death. That is the case whenever a speech or recitation or interview is given -- in any discipline. In the case of this election cycle, Mr. Trump says one thing; it is received in a way that troubles his campaign and he comes back and says he didn't mean what people thought he meant, that he didn't say that, or that the media is manipulating his words to their own liking.
There are those who agree with Mr. Trump and there are those who are troubled by the words of Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump's followers say that the media is liberal, and therefore, reporting his words is slanted.
But his words are his words. The way we interpret them come as much from the way we were raised as from the way anyone writes or reports on them. The values we carry shape the way we see the world. Mr. Trump's followers seem to share his values. That's it. Nobody is mistreating Mr. Trump when his words hit the airwaves, causing a stir. The world, at least for now, tends to be more middle of the road, not far left or far right. Mr. Trump appeals a lot, but not totally, to the far right. Those in the center or slightly right or left of center just do not hear words the same way.
That they do not or cannot agree with Mr. Trump does not mean he is being mistreated; it does not mean the media is being unfair -- although the media can be and is often slanted. Mr. Trump's penchant to be nasty and bullying and combative rather than polite and considerate, even as he gives his views, just rubs many people the wrong way.
Nobody is mistreating Mr. Trump.
To the contrary, we are listening and shaking in our boots as Mr. Trump's own words continue to rattle the people, that Mr. Trump in fact has targeted to rattle from the time he took to the political trail.
All in love, war, and politics, is fair.