Micek: Trump's entire act is a masquerade

John L. Micek
John Micek, editorial and opinions editor for PennLive/The Patriot-News.

We already know Donald Trump thinks the presidency of the United States is "the ultimate reality show."

So is it really any surprise that the real estate magnate spent years posing as his own spokesman as he tried to plant favorable stories among the New York reporters who covered him during his heyday years in the 1970s, '80s and '90s?

Of course it isn't.

When you're running for president, trying to be all things to all voters, with positions that shift with the wind, the years spent trying to snow reporters is the perfect proving ground for snowing the voters.

In case you missed it, The Washington Post dropped a bombshell on Friday, posting an audio recording with conversations between reporters and a man who alternately identified himself as "John Miller" and "John Barron," who was in fact, Trump himself, posing "as an unusually helpful and boastful advocate for himself," according to the journalists and several of Trump's top aides.

An example, from The Post:

"'Have you met him?' Trump/Miller asked People Magazine reporter Sue Carswell in 1991 as she worked on a story about the end of Trump's marriage to wife Ivana and the start of his relationship with future spouse, Marla Maples.

"He's a good guy, and he's not going to hurt anybody... He treated his wife well and... he will treat Marla well," Miller/Trump said, according to The Post.

It's an epic performance — and one that, according to the newspaper, continued for a decade.

It should also set off alarm bells with general election voters who can justifiably wonder which Donald Trump might occupy the White House: The serious leader he (sometimes) says he's going to become or an erratic charlatan who could wreak havoc on the world and national stage.

In at least three instances, in the last two weeks alone, we've seen Trump pivot on three, key issues.

Take for instance his stance on an increased minimum wage.

In an August 2015 interview on the MSNBC gabfest "Morning Joe," Trump came out against increasing the federal minimum, which now stands at $7.25 an hour.

"I think having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country," he said at the time, according to PolitiFact.

Now compare that to what Trump told "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd on May 8:

"I don't know how people make it on $7.25 an hour. Now, with that being said, I would like to see an increase of some magnitude," he said, again according toPolitiFact. "But I'd rather leave it to the states. Let the states decide. ... I think people should get more. ... I don't know how you live on $7.25 an hour."

That would be a textbook example of a shift in positions.

Or how about Trump's position on higher taxes for the rich? Oranges are more easily nailed to a cinderblock wall. In the space of several interviews, conducted within days of each other, it went from "Yes," to "No," to "always possible to change."

Or his controversial proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States? That's gone from a "total and complete" shutdown to one with multiple carve-outs for national leaders and business executives, among others.

That uncanny ability to move to the left, right and center of key issues goes a long way toward explaining why Trump's opponents on the right and left have largely been unable to lay a glove on him.

And it also explains why, despite radioactive public statements that would torpedo any other candidate, Trump has only become more beloved among his supporters.

But it's further confirmation of the deeply troubling — and deeply unserious — way in which the real estate billionaire and his most senior advisers, notably Paul Manafort, regard the nation's highest elected office.

If you've spent even a minute watching reality TV, then you know the action is often scripted, the dialogue staged and the footage edited to advance that week's completely manufactured storyline.

And that makes for great TV.

In a major world leader, it's a recipe for disaster. And it's a show that deserves to be canceled come November.

John Micek is the opinion editor and political columnist for PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek.