(CNN)During his rambling speech in the Rose Garden Tuesday, President Donald Trump pushed back on the idea that his campaign was flailing.
"I think we have really good poll numbers," he said.
While there's long been a massive disconnect between Trump's public bluster and private worries, anger and anxiety, the demotion of Parscale is a shining example of that chasm. The truth that any politician knows is that you don't get rid of your campaign manager unless things are not going well. And you especially don't get rid of your campaign manager 111 days before the election -- unless things are going REALLY badly.
Trump, publicly, acknowledges none of this. Even in announcing the removal of Parscale and the promotion of Stepien, Trump sought to cast the 2020 election as a layup.
"The future of Parscale, who had been lauded by the President and his allies as a digital guru who helped secure Trump's first election effort and became his reelection campaign manager in early 2018, had been in serious doubt for weeks. In addition to the President's lagging poll numbers, Trump was furious after a much-hyped return to the campaign trail fell flat at the end of June. A planned rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, fell well short of expectations after Parscale predicted massive crowds, not only inside the 19,000-seat arena but outside as well."
Now, it's important to remember that the demotion of Parscale -- he is reportedly expected to stay on in a diminished role as the head of the campaign's digital operation -- does not fundamentally alter the trajectory of the race or even of Trump's reelection effort.
As all of the stories written about the campaign shakeup noted, Parscale may have had the title of campaign manager but Jared Kushner, the President's son-in-law, was always the real boss of the campaign. Kushner, as he was in the 2016 race, is the closest person to Trump -- he is literally family -- and is the final decider on most things.
(Why, you ask, does Kushner not have the title of campaign manager? My educated guess: He doesn't want the public responsibility if things go south.)
And, because Trump is Trump, even Kushner gets overruled by him. Most candidates believe themselves to be the best political strategist they have and Trump is no different. In fact, he is more involved in the micro-pieces of the campaign than most candidates for national office.
Simply put: Things are bad for Trump. Very bad.
It's worth noting that Trump had three campaign managers in his 2016 race -- Corey Lewandowski, Paul Manafort and, finally, Kellyanne Conway. He managed to win anyway. Which, if you are looking for the silver-est possible lining in this dark cloud, might suggest that Trump is simply not bound by the traditional rules of politics.
But shuffling his campaign staff won't magically fix all the problems that plague his reelection bid. The moves amount to an acknowledgment by the President that the 2020 race is nowhere near where he wants it to be and that things need to change if he wants to have a chance at winning.
Will he ever say that publicly? Of course not! He'll continue to insist he is going to win easily -- and regale audiences with stories of how no one said he could win in 2016. But the moves Trump made Wednesday night speak louder than any words he says publicly. And they say this: I'm in deep, deep trouble.