Littwin: The Donald’s madhouse candidacy will implode, right?

I don’t know what date you’ve got in your when-will-the-Donald-finally-implode pool, but there’s a lot of smart money down on Debate Night, Aug. 6.

As The New York Times put it, Thursday’s Debate Night is – in a word — huge. Huge for Trump, and maybe for the other guys, too. The thinking is that when Trump supporters actually see the Donald being the Donald during an actual debate about who leads the free world, it might just give some of them pause.

But here’s my guess: There will be no pausing. Not yet. Eventually, certainly, but not now. This may be the night for which all liberal elites have been waiting, the night when the Donald turns out to be, well, the Donald. But it’s also the night that the Trumpians have been awaiting – the night for their guy to be, well, their guy. And the funny thing is, they’ll probably both get what they want.

For Trump the night is so huge that instead of poring over policy books, he went to Scotland to visit one of his golf courses, where he told the press that he’s not studying at all for the debate — you knew that guy in high school, right? — and that he’ll do either “great” or “terribly,” which is probably right.

There are two questions, though: Which will it be – great or terribly? And, will it matter?

The other guys — and we’re not even sure which of the other guys will make the 10-person cut — can’t know what to do. As one GOP operative smartly noted, prepping for this debate is like preparing for a NASCAR race when you know one of the drivers will show up drunk. You can drive a perfect race and still wind up in a nine-car mashup.

Here’s what I mean. Rick Perry, polling at 2 percent, decided that his way to a presidential comeback was to be the anti-Donald. And so the skirmish begins. Now Trump is saying Perry should have to take an IQ test to get into the debates, and Perry, meanwhile, is challenging Trump to a pull-up contest. Who wins that one? At this point, Perry doesn’t even qualify for the big-kids’ debate.

Look, everyone knows there will never be a President Trump. In fact, it’s hard to imagine any of the candidates as president just now, including Hillary Clinton as she does her own implosion dance. But what should be clear is that there will be at least two GOP primaries – the Trump primary and the post-Trump primary. The Trump primary doesn’t end until his campaign ends, at which time we can get back to more familiar political dysfunction.

But how do you get to post-Trump time? The usual stuff won’t work, as, surprisingly, none of the established political rules seem to apply to blowhard, billionaire, real-estate-mogul, reality-TV-star vulgarians.

The evidence is all there. Start with the so-called gaffes — Mexicans as rapists, McCain as a non-hero (Trump saying he prefers heroes who aren’t captured) — which don’t seem to be gaffes at all to the Trumpians, who think he got it right.

Stop next at the semi-scandalous media revelations about Trump’s all-too-chronicled life. The Daily Beast goes back 22 years to find that Ivana once said that Trump raped her when they were married. Ivana has now walked that back, but not before The Daily Beast reports that a Trump lawyer asserted that there’s no such thing as marital rape and threatened the reporter’s career if he went with the story.

The New York Times, meanwhile, went back over a decade’s worth of Trump depositions to find the time when he told a lawyer who needed to take a break to pump breast milk for her 3-month old that she was “disgusting.” Is anyone surprised? I didn’t think so.

Then there are the laughable policy prescriptions, containing little to no policy, the latest example being Trump’s ideas on medical reform. In a CNN interview, he said Obamacare was “very bad” and when asked what he would do about it, he said, “Repeal and replace it with something terrific.” The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza promptly dubbed it “Terrificare.” Meanwhile, when Trump offered up a vague outline of what something terrific would be, it sounded a lot like Obamacare. Of course, Trump once favored universal health care, which you’d think would work against him among the Trumpians, and yet.

How will Trump’s opponents handle all this? In the run-up to the debate, Rand Paul is calling the Trump surge a temporary “loss of sanity.” His opponents know they have to call his candidacy out for what it is — a fevered dream for a significant slice of angry Republicans. But will they? Trump will be asked, of course, to explain himself. Can he?

This is what makes the whole thing so delicious. Every pundit has tried to explain the Trump appeal — I like Peggy Noonan’s: it’s not about people’s anger at government, but about their contempt for government — but I think The Onion got it best, in a fake column supposedly authored by Trump, in which he writes, “Admit it: You people want to see how far this goes, don’t you?”

This is how far. According to The Daily Mail, Trump has asked the Iowa State Fair for permission to bring one of his three helicopters there to offer free rides to the kids so they can see just what 18-karat, gold-plated seat belts look like. In a temporary appearance of sanity, the State Fair apparently said no. Just don’t expect the sanity to hold.


Photo credit: DonkeyHotey, Creative commons, Flickr.


  1. While Mr. Littwin continues to feast on low-hanging fruit he casually brushes aside the real story in one dismissive sentence:

    “In fact, it’s hard to imagine any of the candidates as president just now, including Hillary Clinton as she does her own implosion dance.”

    That “implosion dance” is the real story. Hillary Clinton, once again the prohibitive favorite to win the Democrat presidential nomination, is cratering in the polls and all Mr. Littwin wants to do is take another swing at Donald Trump. So, is Mr. Littwin politically tone-deaf or just a hack?

    That’s a trick question, he’s both.

    It was Mr. Littwin who famously—or infamously–stated last January:

    “But I’ve always had a pretty good handle on politics. For one thing, it’s not that complicated.”

    So, either political complexity has increased dramatically or Mr. Littwin’s ability to understand that complexity has decreased dramatically. Take your pick.

    In swing state Colorado the news for Mrs. Clinton doesn’t get any better as shown in this Quinnipiac poll:

    “most Colorado voters view (Democrat presidential candidate Hillary) Clinton as dishonest and untrustworthy. A majority of Coloradans think she has strong leadership qualities, but a stronger majority thinks she fails to care about their needs and problems, it finds. On the other hand, Clinton’s Democratic competitor Bernie Sanders ranks high on leadership and trustworthiness. But, according to the poll, he’d still lose the general election.”

    But for Mrs. Clinton the bad news gets worse. The poll showed her trailing Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio by 5. 9 and 8 points respectively.

    It also showed Bernie Sanders trailing Bush, Walker and Rubio by 6, 8 and 11 points respectively.. This ain’t bad for a guy whose candidacy Mr. Littwin blithely and cavalierly described as a “benign summer fling”.

    But Mr. Littwin—I hope you’re sitting down for this—ignored that poll.

    Is Mr. Sanders still a “benign summer fling”? Does Mr. Littwin support Mrs. Clinton?

    Will Mr. Littwin continue to ignore uncomfortable facts? Scratch that question, it’s too easy.

    * * * * * * * *

    “Hillary Clinton has never won a competitive election. This can’t be repeated enough. She beat Republican Rep. Rick Lazio for her Senate seat in 2000. And she defeated a mayor from Yonkers in 2006. In her first competitive race, the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, she began as a heavy favorite and she lost.” – The Week

    “Under the hashtag #100Days100Nights, users on Instagram and Twitter are issuing a stark warning: two Los Angeles gangs are betting which one can kill 100 people—in a gang, or innocent—within the next 100 days.” – Daily Beast

    “The resistance of liberals in the media to new ideas was enormous. Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but that’s simply not true! Liberalism has sadly become a knee-jerk ideology, with people barricaded in their comfortable little cells. They think that their views are the only rational ones, and everyone else is not only evil but financed by the Koch brothers. It’s so simplistic!” – Camille Paglia Salon

    “The Iran deal, then, is good enough for the president because it delays until after the end of his term any reckoning with what he himself describes as an anti-Semitic revisionist troublemaking power.” – Matthew Continetti

    “I support anyone’s right to be who they want to be. My question is: to
    what extent do I have to participate in your self-image?” – Dave Chappelle

    “A 24-year-old Kuwaiti-born gunman opened fire on a military recruiting station on Thursday, then raced to a second military site where he killed four United States Marines, prompting a federal domestic terrorism investigation. Three other people, including a Marine Corps recruiter and a police officer, were wounded, according to law enforcement officials: – New York Times

    “This new Dream, seeking revolutionary change in how America works, is not only impossible, but based on the faulty assumption that black Americans are the world’s first group who can only excel under ideal conditions. We are perhaps the first people on earth taught to consider it insulting when someone suggests we try to cope with the system as it is—even when that person is black, or even the President.” – John McWhorter, Daily Beast

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Folds of Honor
    Veterans Day – November 11, 2015

  2. Lots of writers saying The Donald will implode, as I hope happens. However one should not underestimate the stupidity of Anerican voters.

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