The Faking of the President

“Act presidential” is image advice from his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, which Donald Trump has openly rejected. Manafort was quoted at Republican donor “happy hour” that up until now Trump had been “projecting an image” to win over voters. “The image is going to change,” Manafort said.

The media and the Clinton campaign seized on this promise and forecast a complete makeover (not a comb over) to try to put one over on the voters. Of course, yesterday Trump was back to his old un-presidential self who publicly belittled Manafort’s advice along with Kasich’s eating habits and Cruz’s loose attachment to the truth.

The question for me is, could an image makeover actually work? Nah. First, the candidate’s image has been firmly established over decades of bombastic, high profile remarks that started way before he entered politics. He had a TV show, a book, tons of news coverage and has appeared in lots of ads, after all. You can’t shake off the firm impressions made by all this attention.

Second, even if he tried to “act presidential” the real Trump would make regular breakthrough appearances that would undercut the act.

Lastly, it is his personality that he is known for. That’s what he’s selling, and it’s not disciplined. Spokespeople should never pretend to be someone they aren’t. Discipline should come in the form of sticking to messages and not distracting from them. Discipline should reveal the essence of the person’s identity through the consistency and honorability of their behavior, not polish. Consider Bernie Sanders as a case in point. No gloss, just substance.

Paul Manafort is stuck with the real Trump at least until he hears, “you’re fired!”