Monday, August 01, 2016

Donald Into the Abyss--and the GOP With Him

It's gone beyond sucky.  It may be crash and burn time for Trump.

The Captain Khan story continued to dominate media all day Monday.  It led to both the WPost and NYTimes, among others, to delve into Trump's own dubious history with the military draft.  All day military and ex-military leaders and the VFW condemned Trump's remarks on the Khan family.  Basically every story about the controversy recounts all the events, so more and more people know about it.

Speaking on behalf of Hillary Clinton in Nebraska, billionaire Warren Buffett repeated some of the lines that others in the media were highlighting, the rebuke to Joseph McCarthy as he persecuted a young lawyer, "Have you no decency, sir?  At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

Buffett also challenged Trump to show him his tax returns, which normally would have been the story.  But Trump was not done.  In Ohio (and again on Faux) he warned that the general election is about to be rigged.  In Pennsylvania he called Hillary Clinton the devil.

Trump running against the Great Satan is one thing, but with his usual fact-free assertion, casually forecasting a rigged election?  The WPost pointed out: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has suggested that he fears the general election “is going to be rigged” — an unprecedented assertion by a modern presidential candidate. Trump’s extraordinary claim — one he did not back up with any immediate evidence — would, if it became more than just an offhand comment, seem to threaten the tradition of peacefully contested elections and challenge the very essence of a fair democratic process.  

Put together all that Trump has said in the past few days, plus his sinking poll numbers (plus Tues. a.m. release of NBC poll confirming a Clinton bounce to lead Trup by 8 points, 50-42)that provide some cover for critics, and the editorial response has taken on a new tenor.

 "One wonders if Republican leaders have begun to realize that they may have hitched their fate and the fate of their party to a man with a disordered personality," wrote Robert Kagan, in a WPost oped headlined There is something very wrong with Donald Trump.

Regular WPost columnist Eugene Robinson wrote under the headline Is Donald Trump just plain crazy?  In addition to these wild swings and misjudgments that suggest sociopathology, Robinson hones in on the habitual lies--the self-interested lies, as when he claimed direct contact with Putin and now when he denies it, and his lies by reflex, as this weekend when he claimed he gotten a letter from the NFL questioning the presidential debate schedule, or turned down a meeting requested by the Kochs. "It is theoretically possible, I suppose, that Trump is telling the truth and everyone else is lying — although in the case of the Putin relationship, it’s Trump’s word against Trump’s."

At the Guardian Richard Wolffe asks Trump has gone totally off the rails. Will his base finally notice?

Probably not, if this is any indication:

Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, was questioned at a Nevada event by a military mother who asked whether he would confront Trump over the "disrespect" Trump has shown to veterans and Khzir and Ghazala Khan, the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan. She was booed by the crowd.

His base may not, but what about presumably sane Republican officeholders and candidates?  So far no big names have specifically un-endorsed him.  But that's the next shoe that may drop.  Trump is almost inviting it from Paul Ryan by complimenting Ryan's primary opponent.

Officeholders who haven't already bolted seem deer-in-the-headlines still, but political professionals have been more outgoing--that is, going out of their way to trash Trump and now going out of the GOP.

 The big move Monday was by Sally Bradshaw, aide to Jeb Bush but also one of four strategists who developed a plan for the Republican party to go forward.  Thanks to Trump, Sally is riding completely out of the party, and said that if the election looks close in her home state of Florida, she will vote for Hillary. In an email to CNN, Bradshaw wrote that the GOP was “at a crossroads and have nominated a total narcissist — a misogynist — a bigot.”

If indeed a cascade of repudiations ensue, what in the world would happen next?  If Republican leaders repudiate the nominee of their party?  It's terra incognita.

While the moral force and political pressure may not do it, what would they do if polls start to show, in race after race, that Trump is pulling down Republican candidates?  So far the polls have suggested no such connection, so GOPer pols are trying to quietly work their own vineyards and forget what happened in Cleveland.  But Trump hasn't let them, and this may show in the next round of polling.

The dominoes are tumbling, but the media is also a little cautious, aware of how many times it had seemed that Trump has self-destructed, only to see him resurrected.  They're afraid of crying wolf.  But eventually, the wolf finally came.

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