Donald Trump was right about one thing: his red-meat-eating base would still likely support him even if he shot someone in the middle of Manhattan's Fifth Avenue. But the not-so-thinly-veiled suggestion that someone else shoot Hillary Clinton just might be the final nail in the coffin in what has certainly been the most bizarre, incendiary, polarizing presidential campaign in American history.
At a rally Tuesday, Trump warned his fans that Hillary Clinton will abolish the 2nd Amendment if she's elected president and stacks the Supreme Court with liberal judges. On its own, that sort of fear-mongering would be taken as just a typical Trump lie. But then he did the unthinkable: suggesting violence towards Clinton as a way to preserve and protect gun owners' rights.
"If she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the second amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know."
So many words come to mind regarding Trump's latest diatribe: despicable, irresponsible, reprehensible, unconscionable, dangerous, unfit, un-American, treasonous, disqualifying. Let's be clear here so that we know exactly what we're talking about: the Republican nominee for president of the United States has (wink-wink) advocated the assassination of a would-be sitting president. Which is why both the Secret Service and FBI are appear to be investigating.
To be sure, since he entered the race in June 2015, Teflon Don has defied the odds in surviving harsh criticism over sexist and racist comments; attacks on the Pope, war heroes, judges and the disabled; cursing; lies; business fraud; and inciting violence at rallies, to name a few offenses. But now he's entered new, uncharted waters, even for him.
Trump's super-amped-up, potentially campaign-killing rhetoric began after the Democratic convention, when he thought it wise to wage war with the Gold Star Khan family, whose son Humayun was killed in Iraq in 2004. That controversy has spilled into this week, accompanied by his 2nd Amendement comments and threat against Clinton.
The question now is the obvious one: will Trump's latest episode of narcissistic personality disorder, tone-deafness and unpatriotic, possibly criminal behavior finally do him in? Will his persistent heartless attacks on the Khans and his craven call for presidential assassination (even if said "jokingly") finally convince everyone but his most rabid supporters that he's not qualified to be Leader of the Free World and commander-in-chief of the greatest military on Earth?
Has Trump just convinced independents--the majority of whom he needs in order to win--that Hillary Clinton, while not the perfect candidate, is best suited for the job? Did he finally demonstrate that his temperament makes him dangerous and a threat to our national security? In the game of political survival, it would appear that Khizr Khan delivered a crushing blow to Trump, and the candidate's remarks this week about the "2nd Amendment people" is the fatal shot.
As the post-convention polls are indicating, Clinton appears to be pulling away as the race enters the homestretch. One thing's certain: the "Trump pivot" is not happening. He simply can't help himself. While he may try for a day or two to read from a teleprompter and not insult anyone as he attempts sounding "presidential" (it's astounding how low the bar is for him), the even-money's on him quickly lapsing back into vintage Trumpian. With almost three months left of campaigning, it's impossible to fathom how this pathological leopard can realistically change any of his self-destructive spots.