The election is still 12 days away and the Republican Civil War over Trump is getting out of control. Fox News reported that the head of the ticket has now stopped doing fundraising events for the party. That was money the RNC was counting on for Get Out the Vote operations, not just for Trump but for Senate, House, gubernatorial and state legislative races. Trump staffers told Fox that the Oct. 19 fundraiser was the final one Trump would do for the cycle. Hillary has 41 fundraisers until Nov. 8.
I'm not saying that RNC staffers have started using Trump photos for target practice yet, but these are not happy campers. And they're not going to get any happier as Trump intensifies his very public attacks on Republican leaders. He's already turned Paul Ryan into a pariah among Republican base voters. Trumpists want blood from the GOP leaders who rejected Trump. Yesterday Jeremy Peters and Maggie Haberman reported for the NY Times that Trump's impending defeat– “which he has already darkly alluded to as part of a plot to disenfranchise his supporters– could further inflame those on the right whose goal all along has been to disrupt the country’s political system.” Several neo-Nazis, particularly Bannon, Bossie, Stone and Mercer, are sharpening their knives, looking to take over the Republican Party and preparing to move against the designated scapegoats for the anti-Trump tsunami now building.
Some of the loudest voices on the right seem poised to channel that anger into one of their favorite and most frequent pursuits: eating their own.
Some in the deeply factionalized Republican Party, including Mr. Trump and some of his senior aides, are already fanning the flames for a revolt against the House speaker, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, once Congress reconvenes after the election. Mr. Trump, who has lashed out at the speaker for being critical of him, has privately said that Mr. Ryan should pay a price for his disloyalty, according to two people close to Mr. Trump who insisted on anonymity to describe internal campaign discussions.
Mr. Trump made his frustrations plain on Tuesday. “The people are very angry with the leadership of this party, because this is an election that we will win, 100 percent, if we had support from the top,” he said in an interview with Reuters. (He hastened to add: “I think we’re going to win it anyway.”)
…Trump’s campaign chairman, Stephen K. Bannon, the provocative chairman of Breitbart News, made Mr. Ryan a frequent target of its coverage while he ran the website and is said to be particularly intent on forcing Mr. Ryan out. And Mr. Bannon, who declined to be interviewed for this article, would be able to pick up at Breitbart where he left off: as a persistent irritant to the Republican establishment.
In interviews, Mr. Trump’s supporters said they were determined to harness the anti-establishment energy that Mr. Trump had catalyzed and to refocus it on the Republican leadership in Congress– a target many of them seem just as eager to take down as they are to bring down Mrs. Clinton.
“There’s a huge chunk of people who want to see a fight taken to D.C.,” said Representative Dave Brat, Republican of Virginia and a member of the House Freedom Caucus, which has pressed Mr. Ryan on several issues since he became speaker last year. Mr. Brat said many conservatives remained perplexed as to why Mr. Ryan and Republican leaders would choose to fight Mr. Trump rather than focus their energy on Mrs. Clinton.
“Leadership comes and smacks our guy?” Mr. Brat said. “That’s where you’re going to put down a marker? Really? And the American people are just scratching their head saying, ‘Really? That’s rich.’”
Mr. Brat’s advice for Mr. Ryan: “He’d better pivot. He’d better pivot hard.”
Representative Warren Davidson of Ohio, another Freedom Caucus member, warned Republican leaders to proceed cautiously on the issues most central to Mr. Trump’s candidacy: trade and immigration.
“You can’t ignore what millions and millions of people have expressed in this election cycle,” Mr. Davidson said.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Ryan, AshLee Strong, reiterated his plans to focus his efforts on House races, and not on the presidential campaign. “Speaker Ryan is fighting to ensure we hold a strong majority next Congress, and he is always working to earn the respect and support of his colleagues,” Ms. Strong said.
Waiting to assume the role of the dogged opposition are right-leaning news media and political entities that thrive on and profit from challenging Republican leaders.
There is Breitbart, which over the weekend ran a 3,000-word article, headlined “He’s With Her,” excoriating Mr. Ryan as complicit in an increasingly likely Clinton victory.
There is Citizens United, the group that Mr. Trump’s deputy campaign manager, David N. Bossie, ran until August. A tenacious critic of Mrs. Clinton’s that has aggressively pursued the release of her private emails, Citizens United was one of several well-funded groups that put pressure on former Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio to resign as speaker. It has cautioned Mr. Ryan not to follow in Mr. Boehner’s footsteps in cutting deals considered anathema to the Republican base.
And there is Roger Stone, a political provocateur and longtime adviser to Mr. Trump who has worked to pressure the Republican establishment for years.
Also seeking greater influence are policy-minded groups like Heritage Action for America and FreedomWorks, which push Republican lawmakers to adopt a more fiscally conservative, small-government approach. In recent days, leaders of both groups have joined other conservatives in calling for the House to delay a vote on picking a candidate to be the next speaker, which usually takes place right after the November elections.
“If the party doesn’t learn lessons and change based on what’s gone on for the last year and a half, I think it’s going to be just catastrophe,” said Michael Needham, the chief executive of Heritage Action.
Still, Mr. Ryan has a bulwark of support, even among members whose districts are rife with Trump supporters. Representative Peter T. King of New York said he did not think Mr. Ryan’s opponents had the votes to block his re-election. But he added that they could make life miserable for Mr. Ryan if Republicans lose enough seats to leave them with a very thin majority.
“I think you’d find a real backlash, and a real reaction to that, I’d say, from a solid majority of the Republican conference,” Mr. King said of efforts to remove Mr. Ryan. “You can’t take people who are going to use their veto power and put them in charge.”
Newt Gingrich, a former speaker who has advised Mr. Trump throughout the campaign, also warned that damaging Mr. Ryan would be much more difficult than it might seem from afar.
“I think it is a dead end, and I would not advise any of my friends to waste a lot of energy on it,” he said.
Few are as eager to challenge their own party as Mr. Bannon, a former naval officer who is given to saying that the Marquess of Queensberry rules, the 19th-century code of conduct for fisticuffs, do not apply to politics.
Mr. Bannon will leave the Trump campaign having blended its brand of populism with Breitbart’s, while stirring up millions of voters who might not have visited the website before– giving him an outlet that could become even more powerful in his battles against the Republican Party.
Mr. Gingrich agreed that the divisions the election has exposed were not likely to heal quickly, especially on Capitol Hill.
“Read The Jungle Book,” he said. “The oldest wolf is ultimately defeated as leader– great lesson for young politicians.”
Trump isn't about the same crackpot neo-fascism that Bannon, Bossie, Stone and Mercer are all about. He's not really about ideology at all. He's about Donald J. Trump. And he's always looking for an angle. Tuesday the NY Times ran a well-thought out Michale Barbero piece, What Drives Donald Trump? and it's sure not what drives the lunatics who are running his losing campaign. I'm betting that eventually, he's bound to turn on them as well.
The intense ambitions and undisciplined behaviors of Mr. Trump have confounded even those close to him, especially as his presidential campaign comes to a tumultuous end, and he confronts the possibility of the most stinging defeat of his life. But in the more than five hours of conversations– the last extensive biographical interviews Mr. Trump granted before running for president– a powerful driving force emerges: his deep-seated fear of public embarrassment.
The recordings reveal a man who is fixated on his own celebrity, anxious about losing his status and contemptuous of those who fall from grace. They capture the visceral pleasure he derives from fighting, his willful lack of interest in history, his reluctance to reflect on his life and his belief that most people do not deserve his respect.
In the interviews, Mr. Trump makes clear just how difficult it is for him to imagine– let alone accept– defeat.
“I never had a failure,” Mr. Trump said in one of the interviews, despite his repeated corporate bankruptcies and business setbacks, “because I always turned a failure into a success.”
The interviews were conducted in 2014 by Michael D’Antonio, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who later wrote a biography of Mr. Trump called The Truth About Trump.
Mr. D’Antonio now disapproves of Mr. Trump’s candidacy and gave transcripts of the interviews to Hillary Clinton’s campaign this year. After a brief meeting with a few Clinton aides, he said, he never heard back from Mrs. Clinton’s staff.
Over the past few weeks, Mr. D’Antonio gave the New York Times access to the original audio as well as transcripts of his interviews with Mr. Trump, Mr. Trump’s first wife, Ivana, and his three oldest children. The Times is using them as the basis for this article and a two-part episode of its election podcast, The Run-Up.
Mr. Trump, in a statement on Monday night, called the recordings “Pretty old and pretty boring stuff. Hope people enjoy it.”
…Trump reveals himself over and over, in the stories he tells, in his wide-ranging answers to questions and at times in casual, seemingly throwaway lines.
Who does he look up to? “I don’t have heroes,” Mr. Trump said.
Does he examine history to better understand the present? “I don’t like talking about the past,” he said, later adding, “It’s all about the present and the future.”
Who earns his respect? “For the most part,” he said, “you can’t respect people because most people aren’t worthy of respect.”
His lavish lifestyle? “I could be very happy in a one-bedroom,” he said, motioning at his vast penthouse apartment. “I don’t need this– three floors.”
His struggle to balance work and love? “It’s very hard for somebody to be married to me,” he said.
But he always seems to return, in one form or another, to the theme of humiliation.
…He is intoxicated by the glow of his name in the news media, a subject he brings up repeatedly in the interviews.
…Ultimately, Mr. Trump fears– more than anything else– being ignored, overlooked or irrelevant.
And Bannon and that Alt-right crew… they're losers and when Trump isn't depending on them any longer, he'll see that fast and put th equivalent of “C” next to their names and stop taking their calls.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis