Donald Trump was up early, or maybe he was up late — or maybe he hadn’t slept at all, or maybe he hasn’t slept in weeks.
We don’t know. What we do know is that while much of America presumably slept, Donald Trump was up and apparently too wide awake, banging away at The Twitter, where his millions of followers — and how apt the word “followers” seems — could see their leader gone mad.
How else to describe the would-be leader of the free world when he suggests that we check out an apparently nonexistent sex tape of Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe and his present-day nemesis, to prove his point that … well, it doesn’t prove any point. But Trump wants to discredit Machado because last Monday — light years ago in campaign time — Hillary Clinton pointed out that Trump had once fat-shamed the beauty queen by calling her Miss Piggy.
It was a disastrous debate for Trump. But Trump, instead of studying for the next debate, just wants to re-litigate the last one, calling it rigged and unfair, blaming the microphone and blaming The Google, all the while trying to wriggle free from the Miss Universe trap that Clinton laid for him.
Which is why Trump was back to his old tricks, doubling and tripling and quadrupling down on his latest misstep, unable to let it go, unwilling to take advice from the people he pays to give him advice, incapable of controlling his most basic, and basest, impulses.
This was Donald Trump letting Donald Trump be Donald Trump.
And so came the tweets, one after the other, one more embarrassing than the last, and the only question is who should be more embarrassed — Trump or the people planning to vote for him.
Here’s my favorite of the tweets:
Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2016
It’s all Trump, who likes to boast of his sexual prowess, who used the debate stage to draw attention to his, uh, manhood, who releases his testosterone numbers but not his tax returns, calling Machado “disgusting” (she once posed for Playboy) as he heads into his latest conspiracy theory: that Clinton, many months ago, must have plotted the whole thing, probably with the help of whoever forged Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
Don’t laugh. It’s not funny.
Nothing about Trump is funny.
All right, some things are funny. I mean, Newt Gingrich has joined Trump in the fat-shaming game. Yes, Newt Gingrich. Not that there isn’t precedent here. It was Newt Gingrich who went after Bill Clinton for adultery. (And now it’s Rudy Giuliani who wants Trump to take on Clinton’s sex scandals, which is funny, if only in a weird, sick, twisted, Trump-Gingrich-Giuliani way.)
In any case, it should go without saying that it doesn’t make a bit of difference what Machado has or hasn’t done with her life. It doesn’t change the fact that Trump called her “Miss Piggy” for gaining weight or that he called her “Miss Housekeeping” because she is Latina. You’ll notice that Trump hasn’t denied either.
But what can’t be overlooked is the turn in Trump’s fortunes. It began with his refusal to do serious debate prep for Monday’s debate, and it continues as he turns a one- or two-day story into a weeklong story, just as he did with the Gold Star Khan family story. His advisers have said (anonymously, of course) that Trump was too distracted to study for the debate, that he ignored lines of attack that had been prepared for him. They’ve said he is convinced he won this debate, just as he was convinced he won all the GOP debates, citing insta-online fan polls that are, not to put too fine a point on it, worthless.
The most dependably Republican and conservative editorial boards in the country are snubbing Trump. The Arizona Republic has endorsed a Democrat for the first time in its history. The Detroit News endorsed Gary Johnson, as did the Richmond Times-Dispatch. USA Today has advised its readers not to vote for “ill-equipped” Trump, “a serial liar” who “traffics in prejudice.”
According to Nate Silver, as of this writing, there have been 11 swing-state polls released since the debate Monday and Clinton is leading (or, to put it another way, Trump is trailing) in all of them.
Editorial boards are not going to decide this race, and polls are only a snapshot. But before the debate, Silver had put Trump’s chances of winning the presidency at over 40 percent. Now, his odds favor Clinton 2-to-1.
Meanwhile, Clinton got to the heart of the matter with a much-later-in-the-morning tweet of her own:
What kind of man stays up all night to smear a woman with lies and conspiracy theories?
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 30, 2016
It’s a tough but fair question, but I’d put it another way.
What kind of nation could ever sleep again if it elected that kind of man its president?
Photo credit: clurichaun, Creative Commons, Flickr