In case you missed his announcement, the always-unhinged Donald Trump has now come unshackled. What you might have missed is that this is a good thing.
Yes, it’s disturbing. And, yes, it’s an embarrassment for our country. And, sadly, it has led American newspapers to have to resort to using all those *** to spell words like p***y.
But, still, it’s a very good thing. Believe me.
Trump has done us a favor. By waiting until the last weeks of the campaign to go full Trump, in-the-bunker Trump, X-games Trump, he has cleared up any remaining confusion as to what the stakes are in this election, which amount to this: Choosing between a flawed (aren’t they all?) but stable candidate and a narcissistic boor/demagogue with disturbing weaknesses for shirtless dictators and women who don’t have the option of saying no.
Nothing that has happened in the last few weeks should shock anyone, and especially not the Mad Men-era groping accusations. The Trump accusers — whom Trump accuses of not being attractive enough for his tastes — tell the same hot-mic story that Trump bragged about to the criminally-obsequious Billy Bush. Trump called it locker-room banter. Melania ventured out from her undisclosed resort location to say it was boys being boys, as if that’s what we want in a president.
And we’re left with a clueless Trump, who must be wondering if bringing out the Bill Clinton accusers might not have been the best campaign strategy. Apparently, his Breitbartian campaign CEO was too busy advising him on the nuances of the alt-right charge that Hillary Clinton was conspiring with “international bankers” to “plot the destruction” of America’s sovereignty to warn him that Trump’s sexual history may be of more interest to voters today than Bill Clinton’s.
Meanwhile, the full Trump — the 3 a.m.-tweeting Trump, the 70-going-on-13 Trump — took matters another step further, telling us that as Hillary Clinton crossed in front of him during the debate, he was not, well, impressed. I swear to God he said this. Do the Google. It’s all there. He is debating for his life, or at least for his job, and, at the same time, he is assessing the sexual appeal of his female opponent’s derriere. Is blood coming out of your wherever? It is mine.
What really doesn’t impress me, though, is all the hand-wringing about Trump going all Alex Jones in claiming the election will be rigged — by the media or by, well, someone. We hear from Paul Ryan and others that Trump is threatening the very foundations of the American project, which depends upon Nixon quitting and Gore conceding to make the whole peaceful-transition concept work. (Oh, by the way, Ryan’s voting for Trump anyway.)
But talking about vote-rigging is a longtime Republican staple (for which we can thank people like our own little demagogue, Scott Gessler) that involves fear-mongering, racial overtones and hard-line voter-ID partisanship. Presidential candidates usually don’t stoop so low, but, let’s face it, this is the candidate we have. He’s losing, he has to blame someone, and so he blames the media and the African-Americans and the skewed polls. Trump didn’t invent any of this; he just picked up the Fox News/conservative talk radio playbook. And just like Fox News, he’s doing it every day. Who can forget the ACORN hysteria? Or those two New Black Panthers guys? Suddenly, this is the entire Trump campaign.
For Trump to warn of the dangers of vote-rigging, which has been debunked by all available studies, may be indefensible. It may have brought ace Colorado Secretary of State spokeswoman Lynn Bartels to slam Trump, saying, hilariously, that “Donald Trump has been tweeting about elections being rigged, but he offers no evidence of such. I can say on Twitter I’m a supermodel but that doesn’t make it so.” It may have moved Marco Rubio to explain that counties run elections and that the idea of getting 67 counties across Florida — or however many across America — to conspire against Trump is, well, absurd. (Rubio, by the way, is voting for Trump anyway.)
But the danger of this talk is small, far smaller than the danger associated with a major United States party having nominated Trump. I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes even more clear Wednesday night at the debates. This is the last of them, and we can assume moderator Chris Wallace will come hard at Clinton on the Wikileaks email dumps, the substance of which Trump has basically ignored while busily vowing to put Clinton in jail. We can also assume Wallace will lay Trump bare, demanding that Trump explain just how the election would be rigged, who would responsible for the rigging and where the evidence is that leads him to make this charge.
In the best case scenario, the Trump we see Wednesday on the debate stage will be the unshackled version, even more unhinged than the Trump we have always known. And on Nov. 8, if Trump does, in fact, reject the election results and call for his supporters to man the barricades, the rest of us will have that image of Trump to remember.
Photo credit: Paul Sableman, Creative Commons, Flickr