I didn’t have to think too deeply about the tone and import of Monica Langley’s profile of Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski for The Wall Street Journal: I found it on Trump’s campaign website.
It is what is generally known in the biz as a puff piece, a depiction of the object as he or she — or perhaps his or her grandparents — might present it. And so you have potentially ambivalent scenes like this one at the very beginning of the story turned into very good things:
In a stairwell behind the stage as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke at a packed rally recently, campaign manager Corey R. Lewandowski lashed out at his New Hampshire state director.
“My boss is working 20-hour days; you’re not,” Mr. Lewandowski said. “You’re not meeting any of your metrics with the primary three weeks away.”
In the motorcade afterward, Mr. Lewandowski called a longtime aide supervising another state: “Fly here tonight and take over.”
Now, that could be interpreted as a tyrannical and temperamental campaign manager scapegoating and browbeating an underling and then abruptly terminating him or her via a one-person kangaroo court. But Langley treats it as Lewandowski personally saving Trump’s bacon in New Hampshire, and not asking anyone to do what he and “my boss” are unwilling to do. She also reports he was “prepared” to resign his very well-paid gig if Trump lost the primary, which (a) cannot be verified and (b) was never that likely a prospect according to the polls.
That sets the tone for the whole piece, in which conduct that places Lewandowski somewhere on the spectrum that runs from a brusque no-nonsense manner to a goddamn nasty piece of work is inevitably treated as loyal efficiency. His background does not make one feel sanguine about his temperament: He cut his teeth as a campaign manager in 2002 on behalf of one of the true wild men of U.S. politics, Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire, who lost a primary after leaving the Republican Party and wandering around the far right for a while. His main experience is seven long years with the New Hampshire branch of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-financed group that served as a liaison between the business conservatives and the tea party, and whose agitprop has earned a pretty bad rep from fact-checkers (82 percent of its statements were rated by PolitiFact as “mostly false,” “false,”or “pants on fire”). A term that seems to stick to Lewandowski is “bomb-thrower.”
It’s interesting to note that Langley goes out of her way to confirm what others have said of Trump’s campaign manager:
Mr. Lewandowski, who downs a dozen Red Bull and Monster Energy drinks daily, resembles his boss in many ways. He’s brash and ambitious, demands loyalty and subsists on little sleep.
A Politico profile of Lewandowski back in July put it more categorically: “One Trump insider joked the two had found each other on Match.com.”
Now, if you can’t bring yourself to an unambiguously positive assessment of Donald J. Trump just yet, what’s a good opening bid? Identifying his alter ego and then making him sound like a humble and hardworking genius? Check this out:
After Iowa, Mr. Lewandowski said he became “more motivated, not distressed.” His 68-year-old mother made calls from one of four Trump phone banks; his wife supervised their 9-year-old daughter, seven-year-old twins, nieces, nephews and cousins to stuff envelopes around the family dining-room table outside Manchester.
Maybe it’s just a psychic flash, or perhaps a blood-sugar spike from reading Langley’s piece, but I’m getting the feeling The Wall Street Journal is putting the training wheels on a test drive with Trump. It’s amazing how different new and scary things look once you adopt a positive attitude.