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Steinberg: Trump could make some in GOP believe in ‘evolution’

An aide to GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump says the candidate is "evolving." | Getty Images

As a lifelong Republican, I enthusiastically support the candidacy of Donald J. Trump. He will make an excellent nominee and, eventually, president, taking his rightful place alongside such GOP icons as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.

If you ask me why Mr. Trump will be an excellent 45th president, I would point to his moderate, commonsense policy on immigration reform; his strong, consistent stand against abortion; plus his opposition to the PC madness currently roiling the South regarding transgender use of public bathrooms, where decency is making a stand against “repulsive perverts,” to borrow Ted Cruz’s description, bursting into women’s restrooms, terrifying our mothers and daughters.

Nit-pickers among you might point out that Trump has not always believed any of these things. Within recent memory he was calling Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists, suggesting Muslims be blocked at the border, and shrugging off the deep visceral horror represented by people using the toilet without the government concerning itself with the state of their sexual organs.

To which I would reply: That is evolution, Donald Trump style. Or as his senior aide explained to the Republican National Committee in a closed door meeting last week, up to now Trump has been “projecting an image.”

“The part that he’s been playing is now evolving,” said chief advisor Paul Manafort, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by the Associated Press.

All the world’s a stage, as I like to say, and one man in his time plays many parts. With five states holding primaries Tuesday, Trump is wiping off his clown-white demagogue makeup, sponging the foam off his lips, and drawing features that he hopes will look more presidential, during the remaining struggle for the nomination and, of course, the general election in November, when he will defeat Hillary Clinton because, my God, Benghazi. Need I say more?

That is his right. Yes, a liberal cynic — such as I have been, before my conversion — might ask: What is the point of all this talking? Of all these debates, interviews, speeches, if opinions expressed on the various issues do not represent core beliefs, but mere passing whims? If they can change day to day — or in Trump’s case, sometimes hour-to-hour — aren’t they mere words, meaningless syllables spoken for effect? Just so much chum, bait tossed out, to be kept if chewed on by the voters, otherwise to be reeled back, quickly explained away, and replaced with something more palatable.

It’s easy to do. For instance, hair-splitting longtime readers might take issue with my opening declaration of being a lifelong Republican, as if a person doesn’t have the right to align himself with the political party of his choice, when convenient. Donald Trump, remember, switched from Republican to Democrat to Independent and back, even flirting with something called the Reform Party.

“I have evolved,” Trump said, when challenged about this.

So must we all. When I say I am a lifelong Republican, that obviously means I was born during the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower — a well-known GOP president who himself was a Democrat as a young man — and am a Republican now, today, at this moment, for purposes of this column. Whether I remain a Republican tomorrow, well, much of that will depend on how fairly Donald Trump is treated. Will the GOP try to deny him his due, pushing its support behind the universally loathed Ted Cruz?

Has Trump genuinely changed? Harry S. Truman was once asked to support a candidate whom he disliked, after being assured that the man had “really changed.”

“You know, you always get told in politics how some son of a bitch has really changed,” Truman replied. “But I’ve found in life that no one ever changes, except maybe for the worse.”

But Truman was a Democrat, so what do Democrats know about anything?