What Will It Take to Bring Down Trump?
“I honestly think that Donald Trump is tired. He is overweight. He is angry, and he is just lashing out, ” James Carville offered on MSNBC yesterday afternoon. It was a gloomy, rainy Sunday in New York, but you would have been glued to your TV even if the sun were shining. After an unprecedented weekend of Republicans bailing on their own top candidate amid delicious rumors flying—Was Mike Pence going to quit the ticket? Was Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tendering her resignation?—and the endless Tic Tac/pussy Access Hollywood tape looping over and over on every news channel, the main event finally dawned.
And in truth it was vaguely disappointing, especially since so many were predicting that this was the end of the end—that there was, even for the most loyal party stalwart, an elephant in the room, as Paul Ryan put it. (Ryan is considered the sober, intelligent voice of the conservative movement, and if you believe in his reasonableness, his sagacity, I have an elephant in a room to sell you.) In the afternoon, Vanity Fair’s Hive sent out an email that read: “Special Trump Report!: Will the National Nightmare End Tonight?”
It didn’t. Trump has lived to fight another day, which is either bad—because a racist, sexist scoundrel should be ridden out of town on a rail! Or good—because maybe another guy on the top of the ticket, assuming Trump could be induced (maybe with money?) to step aside, a guy like Pence (violently anti-choice! signed vicious anti-gay legislation!), would perhaps be harder for Hillary Clinton to beat.
At 9:00 p.m., in a location a short drive from Ferguson, Missouri, which neither candidate nor either moderator mentioned, the debate commenced. The opponents didn’t shake hands. Trump, sniffing and looming (imagine if Clinton had sniffed so much!), was as usual a master of the non sequitur. He countered his record of sexual-assault talk with tales of ISIS terror. He answered Aleppo with Mosul. He prevaricated and meandered. He claimed Canadians cross the border for medical care because their single-payer system doesn’t work (he stopped short of suggesting we build a wall to keep them out). He said that if he won, he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Democratic candidate and potentially put her in jail.
Forced by the moderators to give a firm answer, he stated that he had at some point paid some federal taxes (but not how much or when) and that his locker room talk was just chitter-chatter, that genital grabbing was not really in his playbook.
And yet, because he didn’t dissolve into a puddle on the floor, like Miss Gulch in a bespoke suit, some pundits are declaring this exhausted, bloated, furious guy the winner of the night. What will it take between now and November 8 to convince an overwhelming majority—a huuuge margin!—of American voters to bring the house down on this wicked witch forever?