For reasons that are generally hard to comprehend, Donald Trump has managed to retain his standing among conservatives as an éminence grise, and even potentially an electoral savior. Today, National Review solicits Trump’s wisdom in an amusingly credulous feature. In it, Trump asserts that Republicans are constantly seeking out his counsel and endorsement:
For now, though, Trump is keeping Republican insiders at arm’s length for the most part while he pays attention to data about his electoral prospects. “The candidates all want to see me,” he says. “I don’t go out of my way. Whatever it is, it is — I sort of view it that way.” He also tells me that all the potential 2016 contenders have sought his support because of his popularity with the American people. And he says Mitt Romney missed an opportunity by failing to capitalize on that popularity in 2012.
Popularity? What popularity? Trump certainly has notoriety. But he’s not popular. He’s incredibly unpopular, an easily verifiable fact about public opinion you’d think a reporter might see fit to mention, but National Review does not.
The most comical aspect of Trump’s weird ability to maintain the appearance of dignity is his eerily Brandt-like assistant, Michael Cohen. I will concede that many things remind me of The Big Lebowski, but Cohen’s deadpan solemnity in constructing an imaginary universe with Trump in its center, ruling with a firm but benevolent hand, actually surpasses Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal. He’s even quoting Brandt almost verbatim here!
Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, says the current Republican 2016 contenders have yet to impress Trump Tower. “He wouldn’t be unhappy if somebody great would just surface and help to rebuild America,” says Cohen. “He would be ecstatic. But that person’s not there, not in our current White House, and not in the cast of characters that appear to be the potential Republican nominees, and this is of concern to him.”
This is our concern, dude.
If the entire 2016 Republican field were waiting by the phone for Trump to return their calls, it would be a devastating indictment of the party. But it’s almost certainly not true. Why would even a conservative publication take any of his claims at face value?