The big headline out of the Sunday talking head shows is the Nazi reference Donald Trump’s new convention manager, Paul Manafort used to describe Sen. Ted Cruz campaign’s delegate selection operation. Manafort’s Nazi reference came during his appearance on today’s edition of NBC’s “Meet the Press.” In trying to deflect his way out of the troublesome question Chuck Todd asked Manafort about the threats Roger Stone, Trump’s longtime friend and close political advisor who departed the Trump Campaign in August, made toward delegates:
CHUCK TODD: I want to talk about some of the methods you’re going to use to try to cajole these delegates. Let me play something your former business partner, Roger Stone, said. Get you to react to it.
(BEGIN TAPE) ROGER STONE: We’re going to have protests, demonstrations. We will disclose the hotels and the room numbers of those delegates who are directly involved in this deal. (END TAPE)
CHUCK TODD: Appropriate rhetoric?
At first Manafort tried to laugh it off saying, “I’m not giving him my hotel room.” Then he tried saying, “Roger is not an official part of the campaign.” But Todd pressed and Manfort went all Trumpian and threw out a statement outrageous enough to move the discussion away from Stone’s threats toward delegates that some think might constitute the crime of menacing:
CHUCK TODD: Do you think he’s threatening delegates?
PAUL MANAFORT: Well, he’s threatening, you go to these county conventions, and you see the tactics, Gestapo tactics, the scorched-earth tactics–
CHUCK TODD: Gestapo tactics? That’s a strong word.
It is a strong word, too strong. The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe. Meriam Webster defines gestapo as a secret-police organization employing underhanded and terrorist methods against persons suspected of disloyalty. Not exactly the way we should describe our political opponents.
The word was a strong enough Ttrumpian rhetorical grenade that Todd didn’t mention it again. It was especially disappointing that Todd didn’t ask his panel about Manafort’s gestapo comment. It would have been interesting to hear their take. But the panel discussion was limited to talking about why Trump finally realized he needed a professional convention manager — all the delegates Trump has failed to capture in the selection process the Trump campaign obviously knows’ much too little about.
In any event, it’s easy to see why Trump hired Manafort. Both have no trouble throwing around complaints, insults and vulgarities to gain even a minor political edge. Do they truly believe that such incivility is useful in trying to charm delegates?