It’s bad enough, if you’re Donald J. Trump, that you may be headed to a devastating loss. The intoxication of the crowds and the applause and the rote chanting–“lock her up,” “Mexico,” and the one he thinks was written just for him, “USA, USA, USA,” will suddenly end, as it would for any presidential loser. People who actually bought into his impossible nightmare will go back to their lives, and Trump will spend the rest of his days blaming and justifying and spinning and trying to reclaim the life he had before becoming a candidate. Most of us would be happy if that’s all he did, conceding gracelessly but leaving the United States relatively intact, having bloodied a major political party, media, basic human decency, and causing a split in the country as wide as Vietnam. No, Donald, Hillary’s email thing wasn’t “worse than Watergate.” You, Donald Trump, singularly may turn out to have been worse than Watergate.
Trump is the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous guy lyingly claiming he was running as a sacrifice for his country, which he lyingly claimed needed him as the “only I can fix it” guy. One of his most famous lies is the one about wanting to release his taxes but he just can’t because they’re under audit. That’s a classic Trump whopper because it does what he does best: pile misdirection and disinformation on top of a hidden agenda, reaching a conclusion that is then defended by his Excuse Squad, then burying the subject at the back of the line when other outrages displace it. It’s always been about protecting whatever phony image he has projected all these years, now horrendously backfiring. Keeping his taxes under wraps has always been about making sure the world doesn’t know down to the penny what a tax-evading, stingy with charity, not as rich a guy as he’s portrayed himself, preserving that image for after the election. But a presidential campaign really does strip the bark off you, paraphrasing the late Lee Atwater referring to his destruction of Michael Dukakis in service to George HW Bush in 1988. The exposure of the fraud that is Donald Trump has forever tarnished his sacred brand, to the point where new hotels won’t even have his name on them anymore. Any previous perception of high-quality, best-in-breed Trump-anything has been down-scaled by the chattering class’s disgust with Trump and his classless, third-rate, hateful persona overtaking the false image.
Were there ever emptier words from a candidate than the ones that made it clear that his candidacy was never about him, but about “you,” or some variation thereof? Yea, right. From the Dean of the Trump University School of Narcissism….
When the FBI called off the dogs 10 days after releasing the Hounding of Hillary, the entire world breathed a sigh of relief. Financial markets roared their approval that the Greatest Businessman Ever wasn’t going to repeal and replace with nothing, build a wall, End the Fed, and charge everyone 35% more for a Ford subcompact or an air conditioner built in Mexico.
As much as the conventional wisdom leaned on the cliche that Americans, in general, say we’re going in the wrong direction, it’s just a lazy explanation for hate, racism, and (what used to be) conservative complaining that no one takes personal responsibility for anything and it’s The Others’ Fault. Clue…. we ALWAYS think we’re going in the wrong direction…. more on that from Leonard Pitts here: A black man was elected president and white people lost their minds. Trump’s “Make America Great Again,” stolen from Reagan, was always about simply turning back the clock to a mythical thrilling yesteryear that never really was that can never be replicated. Low-skill factory jobs are never coming back, no matter how many promises demagogues like Trump roll out. The steel mills aren’t reopening in Pittsburgh, cheap textiles will never come from South Carolina like they did 50 years ago, and Apple is not about to build iPhones here. The calculations have been made. If you’re too lazy to click…. the answer is $2,000.
Finally, my back of the envelope calculation says this: that things just aren’t really quite bad enough economically for most Americans that they want to take the ultimate chance by rolling the dice with the Unstable One. Gas is really, really cheap these days. It’s amazing how that’s such a big issue around an election when it’s high… and how it disappears when it’s so low on a historical basis like it is now. And the old misery index: Unemployment plus inflation… fuggetabout it.
For way too long, as we now realize, many of us thought that this was really just one big dare, one big joke that got out of hand and took on a life of its own, and that Trump never really wanted to be president as much as he just didn’t want to lose trying to be president. Donald J. Trump always declares himself to be the winner and even if he’s not, he just lies and says he won. Not this time. The national exhaustion at the year-and-a-half of this man’s brain chemistry experiment gone bad is about to end. While we know this isn’t the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning of some legitimate issues Trump clumsily raised, maybe we can start with something small… like adding a ninth justice to the Supreme Court. That would be special.