Wall Street Journal gives Trump an ultimatum

In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal says: Mr. Trump’s advisers and his family want the candidate to deliver a consistent message making the case for change. They’d like him to be disciplined. They want him to focus on growing the economy and raising incomes and fighting terrorism.

They think he should make the election a referendum on Hillary Clinton, not on himself. And they’d like him to spend a little time each day — a half hour even — studying the issues he’ll need to understand if he becomes President.

Is that so hard? Apparently so. Mr. Trump prefers to watch the cable shows rather than read a briefing paper. He thinks the same shoot-from-the-lip style that won over a plurality of GOP primary voters can persuade other Republicans and independents who worry if he has the temperament to be Commander in Chief.

He also thinks the crowds at his campaign rallies are a substitute for the lack of a field organization and digital turnout strategy. And he thinks that Twitter and social media can make up for being outspent $100 million to zero in battleground states.

By now it should be obvious that none of this is working. It’s obvious to many of his advisers, who are the sources for the news stories about dysfunction.

The “Trump pivot” always seemed implausible given his lifelong instincts and habits, but Mr. Trump promised Republicans. “At some point I’ll be so presidential that you people will be so bored, and I’ll come back as a presidential person, and instead of 10,000 people I’ll have about 150 people and they’ll say, boy, he really looks presidential,” he said in April.

Those who sold Mr. Trump to GOP voters as the man who could defeat Hillary Clinton now face a moment of truth. Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Paul Manafort and the talk-radio right told Republicans their man could rise to the occasion.

If they can’t get Mr. Trump to change his act by Labor Day, the GOP will have no choice but to write off the nominee as hopeless and focus on salvaging the Senate and House and other down-ballot races. As for Mr. Trump, he needs to stop blaming everyone else and decide if he wants to behave like someone who wants to be President — or turn the nomination over to Mike Pence. [Continue reading…]

Two days after claiming that the only way he could lose in Pennsylvania would be if there was “cheating” on election day, Trump now concedes that he could lose for a much more likely reason: that an insufficient number of votes are cast in his favor.

He noted this yesterday in Connecticut while reiterating the fact that whatever happens on November 8, his arrival on Pennsylvania Avenue is assured:

I’m building a hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, right next to The White House. I’ve said, I don’t give a damn — I’m coming to Pennsylvania Avenue one way or the other. Trump International. It was the Old Post Office building… it’s one of the most beautiful buildings in the country. Can you imagine, I got it through the Obama administration? Does that tell you how good I am?… It’s almost finished. It’s more than one year ahead of schedule and it’s substantially under budget… Wouldn’t it be great if our country could do things where they’re ahead of schedule and under budget?… With all the money I spent — in the primaries I spent over $50 million. Now I’m spending a fortune for the general election.

Oh you’d better elect me folks or I’ll never speak to you again.

Can you imagine how badly I’ll feel if I spent all of that money, all of this energy, all of this time, and lost? I will never ever forgive the people of Connecticut, I will never forgive the people of Florida and Pennsylvania and Ohio, but I love them anyway…

This isn’t an election in which Trump thinks he has to demonstrate what makes him worthy of support. On the contrary, it’s a test of the American people to discover whether this country is capable of grasping the opportunity of coming under Trump’s unparalleled leadership.

From Trump’s perspective, if he loses the election it will be America’s loss. He has no doubt that he’d be a great president, but what seems to be dawning on him is that there may be an insufficient number of Americans who share his conviction in his own greatness.

What Trump will never abandon is his narrative of success. For him to follow advice from the Wall Street Journal or anyone else would be to concede that he’s mismanaged his own campaign and that would be a concession that undermines the core of his identity.

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