The celebrity’s ap­pren­tice and his ex­cuses

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION - Kath­leen Parker Colum­nist Kath­leen Parker’s email ad­dress is kath­leen­parker@wash­post.com.

The sys­tem is rigged and the polls are phony. As E-Day draws nigh, Don­ald Trump and his spokesvolken have con­trived ev­ery pos­si­ble ex­cuse for the Repub­li­can can­di­date’s likely de­feat. Un­less, of course, ly­ing has caught on “big league” and vot­ers have fol­lowed their lead­ers’ cue and given poll­sters in­cor­rect an­swers.

Mul­ti­ple poll re­sults re­leased in the fi­nal days, most of which in­di­cate a con­sis­tent trend of Hil­lary Clin­ton win­ning, are sud­denly sus­pect, in Trump’s mind. Ob­vi­ously, ev­ery­one has a fa­vorite polling group, usu­ally cor­re­spond­ing to one’s pref­er­ence at the top. But enough rep­utable polls show sim­i­lar re­sults to lend heft to mere prob­a­bil­ity.

Even so, it ain’t over till it is, one is wise to say.

Trump may be spin­ning polls for other rea­sons, too. Know­ing how mal­leable peo­ple can be, he may hope to shift per­cep­tions lest po­ten­tial sup­port­ers be swayed by polls tilt­ing Clin­ton­ward. If Trump hates losers, his com­rades in arms (and that’s no joke) prob­a­bly do, too.

Per­haps the strong­est in­di­ca­tor that Trump will lose is his own pre­ma­ture dis­tri­bu­tion of blame. As far as he is con­cerned, de­feat couldn’t be his fault.

The ob­vi­ous truth is that Trump never should have been the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee, as even Trump prob­a­bly would ad­mit. When he de­scended the es­ca­la­tor to an­nounce his can­di­dacy, he was at just 1 per­cent -- a barely per­cep­ti­ble speck on the con­tin­uum of Repub­li­can can­di­dates.

He was ig­nored -- or at least not taken se­ri­ously -- by nearly ev­ery­one for good rea­son. And when he started spout­ing hot rhetoric, few in in the GOP lead­er­ship wor­ried much since he’d surely be mov­ing along any day. This was not to be, in part be­cause, as Trump com­mented laugh­ing to a friend, who told me: “I had no idea it would be so easy.”

Trans­la­tion: Once he re­al­ized he was deal­ing with a bunch of suck­ers, he con­tin­ued to play them. What fun -- and, voila.

Why was ev­ery­one will­ing to stand by and watch this re­al­i­tyTV char­ac­ter take charge?

“Be­cause [Priebus] is their boy,” a dis­grun­tled top Repub­li­can told me. “He’s given them what they wanted. He’s kept the money flow­ing.”

Where the money flows, the love goes. In pol­i­tics, it seems, prin­ci­ple re­ally means prin­ci­pal.

The RNC gang sold out. When Trump launched his cam­paign by rant­ing about un­doc­u­mented Mex­i­cans as mur­der­ers and rapists, the party lead­er­ship should have shouted him down. Priebus should have sum­moned Trump to Wash­ing­ton and ex­plained how things were go­ing to go. He might have handed Trump the GOP’s au­topsy re­port from the 2012 elec­tion and re­ferred him to the “His­pan­ics” sec­tion of the chap­ter on cul­ti­vat­ing “De­mo­graphic Part­ners,” say­ing: This is what you’re go­ing to do from now on.

Trump have agreed? Prob­a­bly not. But then Priebus should have said: Well, then, I’ll have to break you down dur­ing the pri­maries. At ev­ery op­por­tu­nity, Priebus should have made the case that Trump, who even­tu­ally alien­ated not just His­pan­ics but also African-Amer­i­cans and women, doesn’t rep­re­sent the Repub­li­can Party. In­stead, Priebus and oth­ers feared a base that hadn’t formed around Trump yet and, by their in­ac­tion, con­trib­uted to Trump’s suc­cess.

By let­ting Trump rise to the top, as oil slicks tend to, Priebus has left the party in such a gelati­nous mess, Repub­li­cans will need a haz­mat team to clean it up. And for this, he’d like to serve a third term?

Once you’ve seen the lights, smelled the grease­paint and been the celebrity’s ap­pren­tice, it must be hard to go back to Jer­sey.

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