Well, he's really done it this time, hasn't he? After the latest in an endless string of normally disqualifying incidents, Donald Trump is at last imploding and we can start resting a lot easier about the future of the Republic.
Yeah, if only it were so. I love how liberals can talk themselves into the inevitability of victory. Remember 2009, when the Republicans were supposedly finished, only to claw back so strongly that Barack Obama has ended up presiding over the greatest contraction of Democratic electoral strength in history, back to pre-Franklin Roosevelt levels.
Now, maybe this latest odious episode in megalomaniacal Trumpism -- around Trump's appalling, and appallingly stupid attacks on Muslim parents still grieving the death of their war hero US Army officer son in the disastrous Iraq War -- really will be the unraveling of the neo-fascist billionaire bully boy. Given his racist hatred of Muslims, it would certainly be poetic justice.
But Trump could stop the bleeding in the next 15 minutes with a relatively easy apology, then wait for the inevitable ticking of our dysfunctional media culture to kick in and the underlying dynamics of this potentially disastrous election to reassert themselves.
Or he could stop thinking at all beyond recalling the 1988 presidential election.
That's when another charisma-challenged Democratic presidential nominee came out of the convention with a much bigger lead than Hillary Clinton has now, only to lose decisively to a red meat campaign run on behalf of that fearsome, er, warrior, George Herbert Walker Bush.
Putting aside outlier results pro and con, Hillary probably has a lead in the high single digits. Michael Dukakis had a far bigger lead, some 17 percentage points, at this point in the 1988 campaign. I recall Democrats popping champagne corks. Dukakis went on to lose by eight percentage points. That was a 25-point turnaround.
This election is still three months away.
Of course, Trump is, as you have hopefully noticed by now, deranged, incapable of admitting even the most obvious of errors, so he probably won't apologize and move on. Instead, he'll finally stop shooting himself in his, ah, foot and move on.
So will the deeper dynamics.
Yes, a few Republicans have come out for Hillary. But not many, even though Trump is utterly ignorant and unqualified, even though Hillary, agree with her or not, has always been the most plausible president in either party's field.
So what is interesting is not that a half-dozen name Republicans have finally come out for Hillary, which is only logical, but that hundreds more have not.
To anyone who actually cares about the safety and well-being of the United States, Hillary's election -- and longtime readers know I'm not a fan -- can only be described as the highest electoral imperative imaginable.
I have the streak of anarchism that most Americans regard as their birthright. But the election of Trump would not be creative anarchy in furtherance of renewing a deeply troubled system, it would be nihilism. Which is why Bernie Sanders has come out so resolutely for Hillary's election.
In a healthy culture, against Trump, whose utter lack of character and knowledge is so glaringly apparent, even the flawed but capable Hillary should be 20 to 30 points ahead. (Dukakis, after all, was nearly 20 points ahead of a far less objectionable George Bush I.) That she is not points up her own weaknesses as a conventional and compromised candidate in an era which increasingly disdains that. And points out, yet again, that there are deep-seated dynamics which Trump, though not especially intelligent, has nonetheless cunningly exploited.
The economy still semi-sucks for most. Many have been devastated by trade deals. The deregulation of finance, energy, and communications -- and all of this dates back, unfortunately, to Bill Clinton's presidency -- have created useful scapegoats and allies in turn for an utterly unscrupulous Trumpism. And all that with a media culture tailor-made for Trump's rapid-fire anti-intellectualism. (Too bad he's not running against a rapid-fire intellectual distanced from the clown show, like a 10-years younger Jerry Brown.)
Trump's mastery of the shallow immediacy of social media, his literal creation of dominant "reality" TV tropes, his convenient quirky celebrity providing free programming for empty-headed or cynical cable TV chiefs, his deft takeover of the vast reactionary constituency aggregated and activated by Fox News, his gut instinct for 'Crossfire'-style hyper-partisan argumentation, all these things give him unique media superpowers.
Now his fundraising has ramped up to match Hillary's. If a few bad things happen, with regard to the economy and a new jihadist terrorism that is very hard to eradicate, he is very much in business in this election.
Especially if Russian intelligence again intervenes with damaging material on the Clintons.
Let's hope the KGB, i.e., Vladimir Putin and company, is too forward-thinking for that.
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