Just one slip can send a once-promising political career spiraling into the punchlines of history.
Who can forget Rick Perry's "oops" moment? Did the former Texas governor ever really recover from forgetting the name of the third government agency that he would eliminate if elected president?
What about Michael Dukakis awkwardly riding in a tank? Bob Dole was never really able to pick himself up off of the convention floor after falling from the stage. George H.W. Bush checked his watch during a televised debate, an unfortunate gesture that helped seal his fate as a one term president.
The list goes on and on.
Howard Dean screamed. Sarah Palin couldn't name a major publication that she reads on a regular basis. Al Gore claimed he created the Internet. Dan Quayle misspelled the word "potato." Anthony Weiner sexted in public. John Kerry voted for something before he voted against it. George McGovern claimed to be "1,000 percent" behind the running mate he then promptly dismissed. Mitt Romney was caught on tape disparaging the voting public.
Any one of those politicians saw their political careers either suffer a slow and agonizing death or simply blink out of existence the moment these gaffes occurred.
So why does Donald Trump still have a political career?
In no particular order, as a contender for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, Trump has:
- Openly mocked a disabled reporter
- Encouraged his supporters to forcibly and violently eject protesters
- Called Pope Francis "disgusting"
- Refused to immediately condemn the KKK
- Talked about the size of his penis during a televised debate
- Said a female debate moderator had blood coming out of her "wherever"
- Slammed American war hero John McCain for being captured by the enemy
- Advocated for the use of waterboarding
- Said he would "go after" the families of terrorists
- Called Mexican immigrants rapists
- Implied that sexual assaults in the military are the logical result of mixing male and female soldiers
And the list grows by the hour.
What will he do next? Slap an old lady? Kick a poodle? Poke a toddler in the eye?
Out of an overabundance of curiosity, I wonder what would happen if Hillary Clinton went on live TV and said of Rachel Maddow "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever."
What if Bernie Sanders said the Pope was "disgusting?" What if Sanders took time out of the next Democratic debate to assure the world that his penis was more than long enough? What if Sanders said the media's negative take on him doesn't matter as long as he's "got a young and beautiful piece of ass?"
How would the world react to a video of Bill Clinton sitting next to his daughter Chelsea Clinton and saying that he would probably date her if they weren't related? How exactly would that affect Hillary Clinton's chance at becoming the next president?
What if Hillary Clinton announced that her earlier stance on immigration wasn't her final view, that she didn't actually mean it when she said she would build a huge wall along the Mexican border and make the government of Mexico pay for it?
Why is Donald Trump still considered "electable?" Why is he still allowed to run for the office of the President of the United States? If Rick Perry's popularity could be annihilated by a single "oops" moment, why hasn't the public turned against Donald Trump's steady barrage of insults, misogyny, racist language, xenophobia, and much, much, more?
What would it take for Trump to become "unelectable?" The use of a private email server? A goofy looking tank helmet? Misspelling a single word?
Somewhere out there right now, Howard Dean is sitting on his sofa watching CNN and saying "Holy %* guys, all I did was scream!"
What will it take to relegate Trump to the punchlines of political history? What will derail his campaign and kill his chances of becoming President?
If it hasn't happened yet, will it ever happen?