Donald Trump continues to engage in behavior that confuses and/or enrages Republican politicians. Yes, Trump has ridden a wave of racism, xenophobia and extremism carefully nurtured by the GOP for nearly two decades or more. Yet his erratic behavior is seemingly inexplicable at times unless one keeps in mind the fact that Trump suffers from narcissistic personality disorder - a disorder that makes his opinion of the moment the only one that matters and that makes all focus on satiating his uncontrollable ego and tempestuous love affair with himself. A column in Talking Points Memo looks at some of the dismay and blow back arising in the wake of Trump's meeting with congressional Republicans that was supposed to be aimed at building party unity. Here are highlights:
Everything that happened in that meeting underscores Trump's extreme ignorance and, just as importantly, extreme indifference to being ignorant. But the exchange about Hispanic support has a unique significance in the context of that meeting.
Trump was asked - not surprisingly and not unreasonably - what about your unpopularity with Hispanics voters and what about down-ballot races? Trump's response: No, Hispanics love me!
This is obviously ridiculous on its face. The GOP is generally unpopular with Hispanics and Trump is personally unpopular with Hispanic Americans at a level that is historic and unprecedented. We know this from a limitless trove of public opinion data. As a factual matter, it's no more ridiculous than the 12th Article of the Constitution Trump pledged to protect or numerous other examples of Trump nonsense. But it has a particular import here.
This was a private meeting, meant to reassure skittish members of Congress. A predictable and half way reasonable way to respond might have been, "Look, the border is important and it's what our core voters care about. But we've got a plan to soften that opposition from Hispanic voters over coming months."
Given everything we've seen, that wouldn't be a terribly convincing response. But it would be a response that at least engaged the reality of the situation. If I were a Republican member of Congress and heard what Trump said, I'd be angry. And I strongly suspect many of them were. If I'm a GOP member of Congress I hear that and think, "Damn, you've got zero plan to ensure I don't lose my job. I can't even tell if you care. But you definitely haven't even thought about it."
We often say that the GOP has collectively cast anchors from the world of empiricism and the reality based universe others inhabit. But even the biggest numskull in the House, the biggest nonsense spewer is very, very empirical when it comes to getting reelected. . . . . they want real answers on this one very specific question.
When that's Trump's answer, his real answer in private, to a serious and for some Republicans existential danger, it's immediately clear there's no there there, no net, no back-up plan, nothing but a jackass riffing and talking the way he does when he's trying to get a mark to sign on the dotted line. That's fine about global warming, Putin, ISIS, virtually anything. But politicians need to get reelected. That's real. I have great confidence that many of the electeds in that room weren't just dumbfounded by the Hispanics response. They were mad.
The GOP establishment and many of the elected officials nurtured the base that loves Trump. They are reaping what they have sown. I continue to hope that Trump destroys the GOP - it needs to die given how ugly and foul it has become.