It's difficult to know where you choose to begin. There's the Access Hollywood tape, of course. And Trump losing his second debate in a row (and by 23 points in the CNN poll, and 10 points in the NBC poll). And three women coming forward to say they'd been groped by Trump. Actually, make that now a fourth who just reported her encounter. (None of which includes the two cases in court against him, one for sexual assault, and the other for rape of a minor. Nor the recording on tape from years ago being asked if he treats women with respect, and laughing, "Uh, I can't say that either.") And reports of him entering the women's dressing room during beauty pageants, including one for teenage girls. And charges by several pageant winners of sexual abuse against him. And his dark, bleak press conference bringing out three women who had unsubstantiated charges of sexual assault against Bill Clinton, who isn't running for president, and a fourth women upset at Hillary Cinton for many decades ago being a court-appointed attorney for her attacker. And his acknowledgment at a campaign rally that there were more tapes, and that he would bring more attacks against Bill Clinton, who isn't running for president. And an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showing him behind by 14 points. And a poll showing him tied in Utah, of all states. And continuing to call for the jailing of his political opponent, like something out of a banana republic. And having a falling-out with the Republican Speaker of the House, basically calling for all-out warfare against his own party. And Republican Senators and Congressmen withdrawing their endorsements of him. And his repeated insistence that the Central Park Five were guilty, having taken out a newspaper ad decades ago, calling for their execution, over a crime that DNA evidence later exonerated them and someone else admitted his guilt.
And all of this is just within the past week.
Let me repeat that, because even I have a hard time processing that, and I wrote it. All of this is just within the past week.
If I began listing the factual abuses by Donald Trump since he simply began his presidential campaign, it would either sicken you before getting a quarter of the way through, or bore you to death for its monumental length. This latter is largely how he gets away with so many abuses. Just when people start to get outraged at some despicable action, he tops it days later and draws the attention there, only to again top it soon after. But much to his dismay I'm sure, the Access Hollywood tape has not gone away, and has already had a far-longer shelf-life than all the others. One reason is that it confirms in his words what has been dancing on the surface for over a years. A larger reason may be that rather than just smearing some individual or minority group, he outraged women, who make up 52% of the electorate. That's not a good thing.
By the way, just a reminder that none of this is the big problem he has that I was referring to. That comes later.
Trump actually began unraveling a few weeks ago. Others have their own timeline to date-stamp this, but for me I put it at his bizarre 3 AM tweet storm about Alicia Machado, the Miss Universe from 20 years, throwing in a recommendation that people check out her "sex tape," which he later insisted he never did, though the tweet is there for all to read is exact words clearly in black-and-white -- never mind that the tape wasn't even what he said it was. I pick that day because -- despite all his previous affronts and imbalanced rants -- this was where I saw it more as out-of-control flailing, a desperation that seemed to come from being criticized for doing something so nastily petty and, worst of all, sensing that he was losing the race (to a woman, no less) with not much time left before it was over. The bottom had started to fall away, and he had nothing to support him. Since then, this fraying at the edges has grown to what looks now almost like the beginning of a full meltdown, as he's been obsessing on sexual assault and "going nuclear"against his own Republican Party in a hurricane of tweets and public appearances.
I should mention here that back before even the Republican Convention, I wrote about how we should expect this meltdown. I noted that Trump is deeply insecure and can't take criticism, and that he got away with his outrageous offensiveness during the GOP primary because his opponents generally didn't disagree with the foundation of most of what he said; it was so heavily supported by the Republican base. But in the general election, I said, Hillary Clinton and Democrats would slam him repeatedly and hard -- and he wouldn't be able to take it. It would make his head explode, and eventually he would have a meltdown. And here it is. It didn't strike me as hard to miss.
And no, this isn't the big problem either.
The thing is, what is causing so much horror for the GOP now is the certainty that this Access Hollywood tape isn't the end of that story. There is an acceptance that there are other tapes out there. Even Trump himself noted this, saying at a rally that if others bring out more tapes, he'd make more assault charges against Bill Clinton -- who, you may recall, isn't running for president. Obviously, if Trump knew what he said in the Access Hollywood tape was the end of it, there'd be no reason to be concerned about other tapes. (And for that matter, separate of this, what bizarre sort of retribution is it when the press does something you don't like that to get back at them, you don't threaten to go after those in the press -- which is never a good thing --, but instead say you will try and hurt someone else??! But I digress..).
But even the certainly of there more disastrous tapes isn't the big problem either.
The disaster ahead for Republicans is that, as horrific as the situation is for them right now, it's incredibly difficult not seeing it get significantly worse. That's because there’s no substance to support Trump. It’s all been put together with smoke and mirrors. Donald Trump doesn't actually know what he's talking about, and he doesn't try to find out. He doesn't know more than the generals. He doesn't have plans to defeat ISIS or plans fix the economy. He doesn't know about the outside world. He has lived in an insular bubble his whole life, surrounded by people telling him "yes" and how great he is. And he's had six bankruptcies -- and that's his field of expertise, business. Outside of that, he's an empty shell. He really, truly doesn't know what he's talking about. He's a racist, misognynist, insecure, mean-spirited, sociopathic huckster con man. There is no "there" there. And his ship is sinking, 14 points behind in the polls, surrounded by a disastrous controversy and sex charges, and at war with his own party. The floor under him has been pulled away, and the weight of it all on top of him can only collapse. There's nothing to support him. And this, the last 27 days is when he needs to turn the hulking ship around. And seeing how that can be done is near impossible. Meanwhile, all he seems to be doing is talking about sexual assaults and Bill Clinton. For people who expected at one point there would be a pivot to him being presidential -- well, I wrote that that wouldn't happen. Because this is who he is.
And as bad as all the news is, and as worse as we know it’s going to get with more tapes, and low as his poll numbers are -- I think that the polls situation is even worse than it correctly appears. That's because I think the polls don’t tell the whole story, only the numbers, accurate though they may be. I suspect there are two things are bode far more ill wind for him.
First, moderate Republicans are most probably going to be far more depressed as Election Day arrives by their candidate than Democrats and more likely therefore to stay home. In fact, even many Trump supporters who had intended to vote may end up staying at home as Election Day progresses and the initial results are announced. When the early swing states all begin falling for Clinton, history shows that voters on the losing side figure "why bother?" and don't vote. And second, the Democrats not only have a great ground game to get out the vote, and as all reports show clearly, Republicans do not. And that's as things stand now. But with warfare between the Trump campaign and the national party, any get-out-the-vote organization will collapse even further with the party in disarray. So, whatever the polls say, that’s just the starting point. I think the numbers are valid, because they are generally consistent across the board -- but because of these two reasons there is serious risk of those numbers worsening when the real world hits them.
And as the race continues the poll numbers themselves will only get worse. Not just due to the news, but the basics of elections. Because in the next 27 days, Donald Trump has himself to campaign for him around the country, and he has Mike Pence. And that's it. No other Republican support. No other Republican willing to be by his side on the campaign trail, rallying voters and getting local TV attention. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has herself and Tim Kaine -- and President Obama, the First Lady, Vice President Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warrern, Bill Clinton and Al Gore. All pounding the all-important swing states, to get every critical vote there.
And all this isn't just bad for Trump, but for the entire Republican Party. Because if Republicans don't go to the polls in full, then the down-tickets will all suffer. And that means control the Senate is in serious play. And amazingly, it also means the House of Representatives is at risk. I don't think control of both houses (or either) will necessarily switch to Democratic -- it's too early to know that. But just the fact that they are in play, that it's on the table, under discussion, shows how disastrous this all is for the GOP.
And the Republican Party only has themselves to blame. They voted for Donald Trump. They nominated him. They support him. They made him the leader of their party. They endorse him. They own him.
And none of even this is the big problem I was referring to. That's how bad it is for Trump.
Here's the big problem.
The big problem is that I intended to write this article three days ago, but I had to put it aside for other matters that came up which I wanted to write about. And when I finally sat down to write this piece, only three days later...so much of it was already invalid. Trump World is not just a campaign in disarray, it's in free fall that you don't mark by a calendar, but by your watch. You check news sites every hour to see what the latest Trump disaster is. This isn't an election where there's an October Surprise for Trump, but rather -- as MSNBC's The Last Word put it-- an October 13 Surprise. And an October 14 Surprise. And on and on and on and on. A new surprise each day.
Things could turn around. I could be wrong. That is absolutely possible. Or they could at least tighten. But I require a substantive explanation where that actually would be, and what it is that actually could turn things around. Because otherwise, it's just empty words. And "empty" is what the Trump campaign is showing itself to me. That, and hate-filled and sickening.
It couldn't have happened to a more deserving person. And to a more deserving party that has supported him, and allowed him to happen.
Sometimes, the road to hell is also paved by bad intention.