There’s a draft of Trump’s speech making the rounds, and according to both Chris Hayes and Ross Douthat it’s something of a straight reboot of Pat Buchanan’s infamous “cultural war” speech from the 1992 convention:
Trump speech tonight is the *full* Buchanan. Very very dark, dystopic. Straight up nationalism no chaser.
Ross Douthat @DouthatNYT 34m34 minutes ago
If the draft I’m seeing is right, the speech is basically Buchananism without religion.
A couple of thoughts:
I’m actually surprised by this. What I expected was for at least Trump’s script to be somewhat toned down, so that whoever is currently playing David Broder in this bad political novel we’re now living in could burble about DJT’s new mature and statesman-like approach, his timely pivot toward the center, and so forth. Whether he would stick to that script during the speech would be another matter, as Trump obviously has trouble doing so — he gets bored very easily, he wants nothing less than pure adulation from his most rabid admirers, he loves to ad-lib etc.
But apparently even the prepared script is pretty hair-raising. If that’s correct, it would be irresponsible not to speculate regarding what’s really going on. I’m just throwing this out there: Could Trump be trying to extort the GOP powers that be to get him quit the race for the right price? If he gives a speech that makes it perfectly obvious that he’s not going to even try to pursue an electoral strategy that will be anything less than a full-on disaster, could this be interpreted as a kind of opening bid?
The reason I don’t think this is impossible is that I think there’s a non-trivial chance that Trump doesn’t even really want to be POTUS when you get right down to it (It is a real job after all, which requires sitting in meetings all day and other things he has no patience for).
Of course there are lots of alternative explanations, such as that Trump is stupid and vain enough to think that what works with the most unhinged elements of the GOP base will work well in the general. Or maybe it’s all a bait and switch and the “real” speech will be all semi-moderate and stuff, after he has caused a panic with a fake leaked document. Really anything is possible with this guy, so who knows? But everybody will be watching, which at bottom is no doubt ultimately what this has always been about.