While almost all of the political world thinks Trump is blowing himself up with his various controversial comments, Trump probably sees it differently. I wrote about why in Politico today:
Trump opened a window to his mind-set in advice he gave radio talk-show host Howie Carr, when Carr was embroiled in a minicontroversy: “Whatever you do, don’t apologize. You never hear me apologize, do you? That’s what killed Jimmy ‘the Greek’ way back. Remember? He was doing OK ’til he said he was sorry.”
This isn’t an accurate representation of Jimmy the Greek’s fall nearly 30 years ago (CBS fired the football analyst almost immediately after his offensive musings about black athletes). But it is telling that this is how Trump remembers it. If only poor Jimmy hadn’t been such a weak loser, he might have survived his racially insensitive remarks, and — who knows? — maybe been bigger than ever!
Trump’s refusal ever to apologize takes away one way to defuse controversies, and perhaps demonstrate some humanity and humility in the process. So his only options are to double down or try to evade what he said, forcing his defenders to repeat wholly implausible spin (and Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and Co. usually dutifully comply).
Believers in the Trump “pivot” are constantly disappointed for a simple reason. Like a good entertainer, Trump always tries to keep his audiences engaged and amused. He doesn’t want to bore them or himself. His campaign is a kind of performance art in which entertainment value is more important than basic political considerations.
While journalists and political strategists are appalled by the distractions, Trump probably looks at things differently. Whenever one of his controversies generates a tsunami of media coverage, he may chafe at how “unfairly” he’s being treated, but part of him must be delighted as a child on Christmas morning at all the coverage. This is how he is wired.