By Barry Jagoda
In a full-page Christmas Day article in The New York Times, President Trump’s 2016 presidential victory was explained as directed by the family and the loss in 2020 was also attributed to the family.
This, as reported in the Times, was the verdict of Brad Parscale, Trump’s first 2020 campaign manager.
It was pretty obvious that blame for the loss was due to Trump’s trust in his son-in-law Jared Kushner, daughter Ivanka, and the other adult children who, in the end, could not or would not give good advice to the candidate. Help from outside the family was ultimately shut out.
As the “godfather” of this clan, Trump became the ultimate loser because Kushner, Ivanka, Donald Trump Jr., Erik Trump and their wives and girlfriends were all allowed to be campaign decision makers.
The magic of Trump’s surprising victory in 2016 could not be recaptured in 2020. Parscale was dumped when Kushner saw defeat on the horizon but needed someone to blame aside from himself and Trump’s family.
Looming in the ether was the realization by Kushner, a clever lawyer with degrees from Harvard and New York University, that he needed to protect the candidate’s family from the ignominy suffered a few years earlier when his own father was prosecuted and sent to prison. Scapegoats were required.
How to get blame shifted? Fire the campaign manager and let Trump be Trump. But the magic of the 2016 win could not be duplicated.
Parscale told the New York Times that in 2016 he created an online bullhorn for Trump, so the resonating social media nastiness would circulate state-by-state to build and support a loyal base. That worked and all thought it would be easier in 2020 because there had never before been such a bully with a “bully pulpit” in the White House.
When the magic of 2016 wore off — it may never have been there in the first place — the family got rid of Parscale and all that was left was Trump with his own supposed wisdom and the family.
Conveniently, Trump’s son-in-law took 2020 off, traveling to the Middle East to build a foreign policy legacy. This was simple enough, even candidate-trusted lawyer Rudy Giuliani knew this. Promise the Arabs anything they wanted— particularly in the form of weaponry — and soon there would be a Trump-created peace with Israel.
As candidate Trump flailed around, the clever son-in-law was gone overseas. The other kids just picked up the Trump bullhorn, but the populist message “Make America Great Again” no longer worked.
Trump became a loser because he was both deserted or mimicked by his family. But he couldn’t throw the family under the bus.
Barry Jagoda, a La Jolla resident, was an award-winning journalist at NBC News and CBS News who later served in the White House as an assistant for President Jimmy Carter. His new book about the Carter years is Journeys With Jimmy Carter and Other Adventures in Media.