Sunday, October 9, 2016

Hurricane Donald

Ever the blowhard, Donald managed to upstage a hurricane with the latest salacious revelation.  No one expected an apology from our Playboy in Chief, but it came late Friday in an attempt to tamp down the damage from a video and audio leaked to the Washington Post.  Apparently, NBC was planning to release the "sex tape" Monday but someone on their staff wanted to get it out ahead of the debate, forcing Donald and the RNC to have to deal with it over the weekend.

Donald was already in a tailspin, but fellow Republicans were holding up well in Congressional elections across the country and felt pretty confident they could hold onto the House and Senate in November.  This tape changed the dynamics overnight.  It forced supporters like John McCain, Kelly Ayotte and Marco Rubio to publicly denounce Trump in no uncertain terms, fearing that Ugly Donald might rub off on them in hotly contested Senate races.  Mind you these are the same GOP Senators who stood by Trump when he disparaged a Gold Star family after the Democratic National Convention, despite their misgivings.

The women vote appears to matter more to Republicans than do Gold Star families, Miss Universe contestants and Fox news hosts.  Trump had established an abusive pattern early in this campaign when he disparaged Megyn Kelly over questions concerning his well-known misogynistic statements.  He later disparaged Carly Fiorina in a debate for not having the face of a Presidential candidate, which he brought up again in his first debate with Hillary.  But, probably Donald's worst moment was when he went after the Khan family following their appearance at the Democratic National Convention.  This did lead to a sharp rebuke from McCain and other leading Republicans, but very few of them pulled their support, as they are doing now.

Too little too late as far as I'm concerned.  The Republican National Committee has no leg to stand on, having made no effort to address his foul mouth at debates or on the campaign trail.  He has repeatedly disparaged and taunted female reporters, gone after the wives of other Presidential candidates in tweets and boasted how much women love him every chance he gets.  Yet, this tape is supposed to be a surprise?

We already knew Trump is a loud obnoxious braggart.  What makes this incident so much worse than all the other incidents before?  John McCain had numerous opportunities to abandon Trump, including the time Trump infamously questioned his role in the Vietnam War, saying, "I like people who weren't captured."  Then came Trump's outrageous attack of a Gold Star family, who had lost their son in Iraq, and most recently dismissing vets with PTSD.  Yet, Mackie only chose to pull his endorsement after these Access Hollywood tapes.

Part of the reason is that Mackie was facing a potentially tough re-election primary.  He is not very popular among his Republican base and didn't want to alienate supporters by distancing himself from Trump.  Having won the primaries, Mackie now has to tack toward the middle and obviously women are a big part of that middle ground, which he can't afford losing over Trump's most recent faux pas. As a result, it becomes very convenient for him to dump Trump.  The only question is whether Arizona teabaggers will accept his about face on Donald, and if women voters will see his recent change of heart any more sincerely than they do Trump's apology?

Donald had a very rough two weeks but there was every reason to think he might turn things around Sunday night with a strong performance.  He even held a mock town hall on Wednesday to prepare for the event, although most critics mocked it.  All he had to do was not be as bad as he was the previous debate.  Throughout this campaign, he has done a great job of lowering the bar.  Any improvement would have been regarded as a "victory," especially in the wake of Pence's "great job" at the Vice-Presidential debate.  But, another funny thing happened along the way.

No one remembers Alicia Machado now.  We have Nancy O'Dell, the "married woman" Trump hoped to score while shopping for furniture, and Arianne Zucker, the lovely soap opera actress in purple that Trump made sure to take some "tic-tacs" before kissing, although he refrained from grabbing her you-know-what.

You had to know women would ultimately bring Trump down.  The scuttlebutt is that Marla Maples is the one who leaked the 1995 tax returns to the New York Times, as she would have been the only one legally able to do so other than Donald, having been married to him at the time.

You play with fire, you get burnt, and that is exactly what has happened to the GOP.  They accepted him in the primaries because he brought star power and boosted television ratings to unprecedented levels.  As much as establishment Republicans loathed what he stood for, they couldn't resist the Hollywood glamour he brought to the elections, if you can call it glamour.  He played the GOP field like he did his contestants on The Apprentice, leaving them to fight among themselves while his status grew through the nomination process.  There were numerous opportunities to dump Trump. There was even talk of an open convention that would have freed delegates to vote for the candidate of their choice on the convention floor, but it never came to pass, and Donald easily won the roll call vote.

Trump has left so many burnt bridges behind him that it wasn't surprising at all this tape came from NBC, which quickly dumped Trump back in June, 2015, after his outlandish statement regarding Mexican immigrants.  NBC has a very big share in the Latin television audience, and wasn't about to let Trump run roughshod over it.  NBC had also been looking into allegations by former Apprentice staff and guests that Trump often used lewd language on the show, demeaning the show's crew and contestants alike.  One thing led to another and this Access Hollywood tape was found in the NBC archives.  As Washington Post gleefully reports, more is soon to follow.

Will this be enough to make Trump drop out of the race?  Many in the RNC desperately want him to do so, hoping to make Mike Pence their new nominee.  However, early voting has already begun in many states and Trump has remained defiant.  Like everything else in this election cycle, we have entered unchartered territory.

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