What’s weirder? That Trump would hand over his campaign to Manafort without vetting him and his vision for winning the race first? (Draw your own conclusion about Trump’s managerial ability from that.) Or that he’d punish Manafort this way amid a landslide win in New York last week and another round of landslides to come tonight? You don’t typically fire your manager when the team’s in the middle of a winning streak, right?
In fairness to Trump, it’s hard to understand why Manafort thought he could turn him into a more disciplined candidate. He’s an extreme narcissist; telling him to be something other than himself is the most vicious thing you can say to him. I don’t think his fans even want him to be more “presidential.” If you like Al Czervik, the last thing you’d want is for him to become Judge Smails. It reeks of “traditional” politics. The whole point of Trumpism is that it’s not politics as usual.
Trump became upset late last week when he learned from media reports that Manafort privately told Republican leaders that the billionaire reality TV star was “projecting an image” for voters and would begin toning down his rhetoric, according to the sources. They said that Trump also expressed concern about Manafort bringing several former lobbying colleagues into the campaign, as first reported by POLITICO…
In particular, multiple sources said Trump was bothered by news stories about Manafort’s representation of Saudi Arabia and for a group accused of being a front for Pakistani intelligence.
“I don’t think he was aware of the extent of the work that Paul has done in foreign countries that have not always been friendly to the United States,” said a Washington operative with close relationships to the campaign…
Multiple sources said that Trump in recent days has re-empowered Lewandowski to handle the campaign’s finances and make some hiring decisions, partially reversing changes Manafort laid out this month when seizing some decision-making authority from Lewandowski.
Trump reportedly didn’t like Manafort’s habit of keeping him off the Sunday shows (where he’d be more likely to be quizzed on policy) while choosing to appear on those shows himself. He also rejected a more “presidential” draft speech that Manafort wanted him to deliver last Tuesday night after his win in New York, although he did tone down his own rhetoric that evening before shifting back this week to talking about how disgusting Kasich is when he eats. A more substantive failing of Manafort’s was Team Trump getting lapped again in the delegate battle last weekend, but I think his excuse for that is sound: You can’t expect him to work miracles immediately when he’s been with the team just a few weeks and Trump is badly understaffed on the ground at state conventions. Manafort will become more useful in persuading delegates in May, June, and especially before the convention in July. But oh well — combative Corey Lewandowski, whose philosophy has always been to “let Trump be Trump,” is back in favor while Manafort, who’s been with the campaign less than a month, is now suddenly on the outs. It reminds me of George Steinbrenner hiring, firing, and re-hiring Billy Martin repeatedly in the 70s and 80s, overreacting to every setback despite the team’s overall success. Trump’s building himself his very own “Bronx Zoo.”