The RNC’s Deluded Plan to Control Trump (Updated)

/ AP

/ AP

Of all the headlines I’ve seen this cycle—of all the predictions of insiders and outsiders and wags and talking heads—this has to be the most deluded one yet:

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I just … what?

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus has begun stating in private meetings that the party has sway over its at times unwelcome front-runner because it has tools Trump will need to use to win a general election — voter data and field, digital and media operations that a nominee typically inherits from the party infrastructure.

Dangling access to these resources, Priebus thinks he can help steer Trump toward partywide policy goals and away from the inflammatory rhetoric that Republican officials see as divisive and dangerous, especially outside of the primary, according to two Republican sources who have spoken with the RNC chairman.

I mean … I guess? That could be true. I have been kind of wondering myself how Donald Trump would actually run a nationwide campaign; I seriously doubt he has the liquidity to fund it or the data to mobilize voters, really. But I think it’s much more likely that the RNC will hand over all their resources and all their lists and do everything the Donald asks and when he breaks his promises against using “inflammatory rhetoric”—which is almost certainly the biggest source of his appeal—he will respond to reminders that the RNC gave him everything they had thusly:

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Update: One of the good folks at the RNC emailed to pass along this clip of RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer rejecting the premise of the Politico piece; you should watch the whole clip:

The key line in this interview, to my mind, comes when Spicer says the following: “The Politico story’s false in the idea that we were ‘leveraging’ anybody. It’s a relationship. And you don’t go into any relationship and tell anyone ‘You will do this or that.’ That’s false. What I do believe is important is that like any relationship: we need the nominee and the nominee needs us and we’re going to be proud participants in helping them win back the White House.” I will be honest: I question the idea that Trump needs the RNC insofar as his whole shtick is centered on not being a politician and not being beholden to folks in the establishment. But, as I said earlier up, I’m kind of curious to see how he tries to run a presidential campaign without any institutional support. I guess we’ll see!

[End update.]

Look, I know I’m an emotionally and intellectually stunted man-child who cannot relate to the world via any means other than comic book movies. So, you know, take my advice with a grain of salt. But Donald Trump is not a politician. It doesn’t make sense to think of him in terms of electability or gotv strategy. I’m not even sure he particularly cares about being president in any sense other than failing to do so means he lost. He’s a force of nature, a combination of Bane and Rorschach and the Joker and Immortan Joe.

I mean, honestly, imagine the first one-on-one debate between he and Hillary Clinton. Think about the scene for a moment: two podiums, two contenders, an otherwise empty stage. She’ll say something mildly disparaging—criticize his bankruptcies, or something—and Donald Trump will, on live TV, reply with something along the lines of, “At least my husband didn’t fly around with pedophiles on Air Fuck One. He’s a bad person, a very nasty—you know, I may have gotten divorced, but at least I wasn’t aboard the Lolita Express!”

There will be gasps in the audience and the moderators might scold him. Clinton will sputter and try to laugh and say “Look at this!” And then he’ll turn to the camera and remind us all of a very important truth:

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Trump’s biggest asset is that the RNC has no power over him. The RNC has nothing, nothing to threaten him with, nothing to do with all its strength. And that lack of control is one of the reasons why Democrats, if they’re smart, will be very afraid of him winning the nomination.