Donald Trump's Implosion

Donald Trump's Implosion

The Atlantic: Politics

Donald Trump knows he won't be president. He's now in full carnival-barking, network-launching, party-nuking mode—a scowling, pouting menace who threatened during a nationally televised debate to throw Hillary Clinton in jail and called her husband the most sexually abusive man in political history.

That’s ripe.

The Republican presidential nominee entered the second presidential debate with his campaign imploding over an audiotape obtained by the Washington Post that captures Trump bragging about committing sexual assault.

"I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn't get there, and she was married,” he told Access Hollywood host Billy Bush, apparently not knowing his microphone was live. Trump continued: "I'm automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything ... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."

Debate co-host Anderson Cooper told Trump, “That is sexual assault. You bragged that you sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?”

“This is locker room talk,” Trump told Cooper, making clear that he doesn’t understand. After apologizing to his family and the public, Trump tried to change the subject.

Clinton wouldn’t let him off the hook, saying she has long opposed GOP presidential nominees on basis of policy and ideology. “But I never questioned their fitness to serve. Donald Trump is different.” She said the recording reflects Trump’s intolerance toward women, blacks, Hispanics, and Muslims.

“So, yes, this is who Donald Trump is.”

Trump stewed, his anger simmering beneath a thin veil of calm. Desperately, he said Bill Clinton’s behavior toward women was “far worse”—as if that’s an excuse for his own behavior.

“Mine were words and his were action,” said Trump, who invited to the debate three women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct or rape. “What he’s done to women, there’s never been somebody in the history of politics who’s been more abusive to women.”

Then he seized on Hillary Clinton’s role in demonizing her husband’s accusers. “Hillary Clinton attacked those same women,” he said, “and attacked them viciously.”

With Hillary Clinton staring daggers into the side of his head, Trump said of her husband, “He was impeached. He lost his license to practice law …”

This is the last thing GOP leaders, including his own running mate, Mike Pence, wanted out of Trump—a debate over the historical relevance of his sexism. At least 57 GOP members of congress and governors are not supporting Trump, with 39 announcing their non-support since the tape’s released.

After this performance, the stampede will grow.

Trump is a serial hypocrite who outdid himself with the attacks on Bill Clinton.

He once criticized Republicans for impeaching Clinton. "Look at the trouble Bill Clinton got into with something that was totally un-important. And they tried to impeach him, which was nonsense.

He also attacked Monica Lewinsky’s looks. “People would have been more forgiving if (Bill Clinton) had an affair with a really beautiful woman of sophistication.”

He called Paula Jones a loser and, in 1999, called Hillary Clinton “a wonderful woman.” He also said, “She's been through more than any woman should have to bear.”

Had the Trump tape not been released, Clinton would be dealing with her own hypocrisy issues. In lucrative paid speeches, the former secretary of state discussed Wall Street and free trade in far-friendlier terms than she did during the Democratic nominating fight, according to documents released by WikiLeaks. Clinton said she dreamed of “open trade and open boarders” throughout the Western Hemisphere,” which would come as a surprise to liberal voters who pushed her to opposed trade agreements.

But she had the better hand Sunday night, reminding voters that Trump has not apologized for attacking the parents of a slain U.S. soldier, mocking a disabled reporter, smearing a Hispanic judge, and questioning President Obama’s citizenship. “He owed the president an apology,” she said.

“You owe the president an apology,” Trump said, accusing a Clinton adviser of starting the false “birther” rumor in 2008.

Cooper and Trump pressed Clinton on her email scandal, failing to get her to budge off her deceptive talking points.

“If I win,” Trump said, “I’m going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation.”

Clinton laughed and said it’s a good thing “somebody with Donald Trump’s temperament” doesn’t have such power.

“Because you’d be in jail,” Trump blurted, precisely making her point. He also called her the devil.

Clinton laughed at him again. “OK, Donald, I know you’re big on diversions today—anything to avoid talking about your campaign and how it’s exploding and how Republicans are walking away from you.”

Nothing hurts a bully likes somebody laughing at him, unless it’s people walking away from him. Trump paced and pouted and sighed. As Clinton passed between her rival and his lectern, I half expected Trump to trip her. Instead, he falsely accused the moderators of failing to ask Clinton about her email.

“One on three,” he whined. Poor Donald; he thought the two moderators and Clinton were ganging up on him.

When you’re a dying star, you can’t do anything.

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