In a revealing behind-the-scenes look at the chaotic Donald Trump campaign, insiders describe a floundering operation with a feckless egomaniac at its helm who has no grasp of how badly things are spinning out of control.
"Think of the bunker right before Hitler killed himself," said one anonymous campaign staffer to New York Magazine's Gabriel Sherman. "Donald’s in denial. They’re all in denial.”
The mood in Trump Tower, Sherman reported, has vacillated between gloom, rage, denial and then brief glee on Friday when the FBI reported that the agency is reviewing new materials in the investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State.
The New York article details what many observers have long suspected. Trump's inability to discipline himself as a candidate has ultimately been his undoing. Advisers and aides can offer advice, but as one Republican donor said, "Trump has the following personality: NIH-NFW, meaning ‘If it’s not invented here, not invented behind these eyes, then it’s no fucking way.’ ”
Trump batted aside suggestions that he should not have attacked the Khan family, Muslim-Americans whose son perished in Iraq.
“You do know you just attacked a Gold Star family?” one adviser reportedly told Trump.
The candidate had no idea what a Gold Star family is: “What’s that?” he asked.
As Trump has trended downward in the polls, conservatives both for and against his presidency have looked on with a mixture of pity, disappointment and despair.
New York Times conservative columnist echoed the adviser who compared the situation to Hitler's bunker. In a tweet on Friday, he said, “In Trumpworld as Hitler’s Bunker terms,” the re-opening of the FBI investigation is “like when Goebbels thought FDR’s death would save the Nazi regime.”
The article also said that Trump TV is becoming less and less of a foregone conclusion.
“It’s too expensive. Trump won’t put his own money in,” said one prominent Republican to Sherman. Campaign CEO Steve Bannon said that the launch of a new media venture seems unlikely and that he plans to return to Breitbart.com after the election.
Key media adviser Roger Ailes has walked away from the campaign last summer, citing Trump's inability to focus on debate preparation and stay on message.
Another key indicator that things are going badly for the campaign is the fact that advisers, spokespersons and other campaign staff are positioning themselves for what they will do after the election loss.
“It’s a window into a campaign in a downward spiral when the positioning begins,” said a former Mitt Romney 2012 staffer, “but I’ve never seen it begin this early.”