We’ve reached that point in the campaign where everyone is suddenly afraid to state the obvious. What we need is a truth teller. Someone who all he does is tell the truth.
You know, like The Donald.
Asked whether his latest foray into campaign fabulism can possibly work, Trump says that if it doesn’t, it won’t be for lack of effort, and, besides, the worst that can happen when you’re Donald Trump is that you’ll be facing a really great post-race vacay. Melania could make the plans. I’m sure there’s a cool itinerary she can copy from the internet.
In any case, the man who famously says all he does is win is ready to face the prospect that he might lose.
Asked on CNBC about his poor poll numbers and what he can do to change things up, Trump said, “Just keep doing the same thing I’m doing right now and at the end, it’s either going to work or I’m going to, you know — I’m going to have a very, very nice, long vacation.”
Does this sound like a crazy man out of touch with reality? Or just a carnival barker worried that his shtick is starting to fail him who knows that it’s the only shtick he’s got?
If you’ve ever wondered what a desperate Donald Trump looks like, turn on your TV. He’s there somewhere. Hell, he’s the one guy who can dependably knock real winners like Michael Phelps and Simone Biles off the screen.
All he had to do, in his own Trumpian version of a two-and-a-half twists off a backward salto, was to rapidly and completely change the conversation from political assassination to, well, political suicide.
It’s as astonishing as anything you’ll see from Rio.
Just think back a few days to when everyone was talking about Trump’s “Second Amendment people.” That doesn’t even register anymore. Now the conversation is about two things:
One, Trump’s birther-plus decision to accuse Barack Hussein Obama of being the “founder” of ISIS who is “honored” by the ISIS terrorists and who is — if you’ll recall an earlier Trumpism — winkingly in league with anyone out to destroy America. And, of course, he says you shouldn’t forget Hillary Clinton, who he says is Obama’s co-MVP on ISIS and a co-founder of the terrorist group — even though Clinton was the hawk in the Obama administration who advocated being tougher in Iraq and Syria.
Two, how desperate — and desperate for applause — he must be to think that saying something so obviously provocative and so obviously untrue that even CNN calls it untrue on its “breaking news” chyron was going to help him become the next president.
And on Friday morning, he did it again — this time a three-and-a-half twister — saying that everyone had missed the point and, that, of course, he was being “sarcastic,” just like he was being sarcastic about the Russians hacking Hillary and sarcastic about Ted Cruz’s dad helping to kill Kennedy. Oh, wait, he wasn’t being sarcastic about JFK? Oh, wait, you mean we have to add “sarcastic” to the list of words Trump doesn’t understand?
The fact-checkers were all over ISIS. I mean, there is argument about when ISIS was founded. Some have it at 1999. Some at 2004. Some at 2006. It all depends on what your definition of founded is. But whenever it was, it was long before Obama got into office. You can accuse Obama of mishandling ISIS, or of calling the team he didn’t found a JV team or of botching the situation in Syria. But the terrorist group was, unsurprisingly, founded by real terrorists.
But the real work that needs to be done here is not in fact-checking, but in explaining why Trump seems so intent on confirming the impression that he is the deeply ignorant demagogue Democrats want you to think he is.
It wasn’t as if he didn’t have the chance to push back on the “founder” shtick earlier. When one interviewer asked him if the comments weren’t unnecessarily inflammatory, Trump replied, “Let them be inflammatory. I told the truth. I told the truth.”
And when Hugh Hewitt, a Trump-friendly interviewer, tried to walk Trump back from the abyss, saying that what he meant to say was that Obama had given space to ISIS because he had “lost the peace” in Iraq, Trump held firm.
“No,” Trump said. “I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton.”
When Hewitt noted that Obama was doing his best to kill everyone in ISIS, Trump was unimpressed.
“I don’t care. He was the founder. His, the way he got out of Iraq was that — that was the founding of ISIS, OK?”
You can see where we are. Trump is getting hammered in the polls. The betting markets have him down to 14 percent. Meanwhile, media types — like me — who predicted that Trump would never even make it to a vote in Iowa are reluctant to look foolish by writing him off again, even though it seems increasingly clear that the strategy that won him the GOP nomination is the only strategy he knows and that it can’t work in a general election.
And so, in disbelief, we watch him go in succession from lock-her-up dystopia to Gold Star family bashing to predicting rigged elections to the kill-Hill provocation to the ISIS founding and now onto, I think we can safely predict, the next outrage.
And, if you dare, you can also go onto Trump’s truth-telling Twitter account, where you can find this:
“I love watching these poor, pathetic people (pundits) on television working so hard and so seriously to try and figure me out. They can’t!”
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons, Flickr