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The Trump Contest

Right now it looks like things will not go well for the Trump campaign. The list of Republicans repudiating their candidate is literally unprecedented, and still growing.
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Right now it looks like things will not go well for the Trump campaign. The list of Republicans repudiating their candidate is literally unprecedented, and still growing. Equally disastrous, Donald Trump is not only failing to rein himself in, he is likely to get far worse. He does read polls, and knows he is losing badly; and to a "girl", as Elizabeth Warren put it. He doesn't understand why this is happening, will get more and more frustrated, more and more resentful, and as his rage builds, he will lash out. Which will move voters against him, then make him more incendiary, as he viciously circles down to the lowest depths of a political inferno.

So there are two likely scenarios. In a normative election, he would lose badly in November. But this year is anything but standard fare, and there is also the real possibility he will just pick up his toys and go home before then.

Either way, however, one thing is certain. Not a guess, not a prediction, but a law as sure as Newton's postulate that if you throw up an apple gravity will pull it down. Equally predictable: if it ends badly, Donald Trump will blame someone or something else. He has never accepted responsibility for his actions, and to do so for his most public humiliation would simply be impossible.

But that lets the rest of us play. So here is the contest in its simplest version: vote for who or what Donald Trump will blame for his withdrawal or defeat.

Now the qualifications. In one sense, the answer is clear: he will accuse everybody and everything. But that's too easy. Life is more complex than that. Who will be his foremost nemesis? Who or what, above the others, stabbed him most ignobly? I doubt the chief culprit will be HRC, because that means admitting she bested him. The media, meanwhile, is a favorite, tried and true Republican villain. What about all those new voters, the Mexican rapists and drug mules coming out in record numbers to foil him? Or how about the infamous Ted Cruz? Will Trump indict him, with his notorious convention address? Or even better, will he accuse Cruz's father as the behind the scenes devil pulling the strings of infamy? The list expands to the vast lineup of past foes: will he charge the whole Bush family, from H. W. to low-energy Jeb? Go after Little Marco? The eminently sane John Kasich? Or will he turn to other antagonists, focusing on Paul Ryan's lukewarm endorsement, or Mitt Romney's early repudiation?

Don't be shy; enlist your creative gene. Will he hold ISIS responsible? Could this be an MI6 plot? Aliens? Sunspots? Let's at least take Putin off the table. A good buddy like him would never do something like this.

Here's my take: Trump's attacks have a history to them. You can trace who he dislikes the most by charting who he has attacked for the longest time and most vigorously. And by this scale, Hillary is a recent player. Note two indicators -- he didn't confront her till after the primaries, much to the dismay of his supporters. And she has consciously refrained from attacking him on a personal as opposed to a policy level, leaving that to surrogates like Elizabeth Warren. In contrast, he still goes after his Republican opponents from the past, still battering against Cruz and Bush.

But think about it. Who is his oldest antagonist? Who has he gone after the longest? In fact, how did Donald Trump get his start in national politics if not with the birther claim? It is clear to me, therefore, that Trump will loudly accuse Barack Obama of causing his downfall above all others.

So take a stand. Who will Donald Trump blame for his loss? Who will feature as the top target of his ire? What is the public's prediction? How will the betting go? Anyone for a survey monkey?