I Smell a Landslide

Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, delivers a national security speech at
Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, delivers a national security speech at Balboa Park in San Diego, California, U.S., on Thursday, June 2, 2016. Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, is arguing that Donald Trump is 'fundamentally unfit' to be president and detailing what she sees as the dangers of the presumptive Republican nominee's approach to national security. Photographer: Troy Harvey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The 2016 presidential election is unfolding like a Greek tragedy. With a few changes.

A tragic hero, burdened by a fatal flaw, inexorably strides toward destruction; unstoppable, resolute and impervious to those who beg him to change. Thus proceeds the Donald.

I hasten to stipulate that the word "hero" is hard to apply. We commonly associate the word with bravery, intelligence and vision. With Trump, not so much.

But the past week has shown us a leader, and a leader he is, with a fatal flaw: an inability to adjust his character to reality. His campaign is one of personal insult, ethnic divisiveness and blatant disregard for the norms of political discourse. On the one hand, this is what got him the nomination. On the other hand it cannot possibly broaden his appeal to undecided voters. Those who already support him find it comforting. Those who need persuasion to vote for him will be repelled. It will destroy him.

Last week, two dynamics unfolded. Hillary made her best and most persuasive case why she is the safer, smarter choice as Commander-In-Chief. Trump responded with name-calling and criticism of her use of a teleprompter. Evidence in the Trump U case was released. Trump responded with an attack on the Federal judiciary, arguing that ethnicity disqualified the judge in his case.

No need to explain why he's wrong, everyone understands. What is puzzling is why he thinks that his outbursts are good for him. Even if he's right, even if it pleases his base, it's politically untenable if he wants to win the election.

Remember, he could win. Hillary has deep problems with the electorate, and political lightning, emails or otherwise, could strike. Trump has an opening to the White House. He needs to persuade undecideds that he is a disrupter, but a safe one. That he can make their lives better. That there's more to him than bellow and attack. Trump needs to learn how to close the deal. And it turns out that closing a political deal is not the same as closing a real estate deal.

Don't bet on it. Trump will likely keep insulting Hillary. He will likely keep raising issues of ethnicity, race and gender. He will lash out at opponents and shrug off specific plans. Hillary, having found her voice, will pound on the Commander-In-Chief issue, and the economy. Her own unpopularity will recede. Undecideds will break toward Hillary. Republicans will stay home in droves. Trump will win the Old Confederacy and a few Rocky Mountain states, but not by a lot. Hillary will win comfortably elsewhere. And the Senate and the House? Gone.

This inevitability of this outcome is dawning on Republicans everywhere. What you are smelling is primal fear. They can see it coming, an inevitable tidal wave sweeping them from power. The Senate: Gone. The House: Gone.

It's going to happen. But unlike most Greek tragedies, where the hero destroys himself but everyone else survives, he's dragging everyone with him. Trump is about to destroy the Republican Party in his own mad dash to oblivion.