Several months back, I wrote about what I thought would happen in the general election. I didn't get the GOP primaries right, but then pretty much no one did. I'm not convinced even Donald Trump got it right. But I was pretty sure that I had the general election right.
What I wrote, by way of reminder, since I don't think most people are taking notes..., is that when pundits were asking how Hillary Clinton would be able to handle Trump, since he had fooled all the pundits before, they were missing the important point. In the GOP primaries, Donald Trump was able to get away with saying the most outlandish, shameful, pathetic things because -- as outlandish, shameful and pathetic as they were -- they were still, at their foundation, what the GOP base believed. Yes, he was more over-the-top, but the core beliefs about women, Mexicans, Muslims. Blacks, and on and on were there. And so, his GOP opponents couldn't really criticize him -- because they'd then be criticizing the GOP base. And because they too had similar, though more rationally-addressed, beliefs. So, he largely ran in the Republican primaries without being slammed for his positions. And the few times anyone did try to attack his thoughtlessness, the base rose up, and that person plummeted in the polls. So, the others learned to tread lightly.
But once Donald Trump was in the general election, I wrote, he wouldn't be up against people who agreed with him, but would be one-on-one against a candidate who was thoroughly opposed to almost everything he said. And who would tell him so, tell him how utterly wrong he was, tell him off at any opportunity.
And that, simply put, was the other point.
Because what I wrote, too, was that one thing clear about Donald Trump from watching the Republican debates was that he could not take criticism. Absolutely could not. It seemed against his very being. It wasn't in his DNA. Indeed for all his outgoing, pompous bluster, he seemed to be one of the most insecure public figures I'd ever seen. One of the most insecure people, period. When he was debating and someone else was talking, saying something even slightly disagreed with Trump, you could see his body clenched, it seemed like his whole body was shaking, waiting to yell something back. And often he would do just that, unable to control himself he'd talk out of turn. But when he was forced to remain quiet, it appeared like his whole body was shaking and would explode.
So, describing that, I bet cash money with total certainty that Democrats saw all this, too, and when the two candidates had their debates, Hillary Clinton's strategy would be to continually disagree with him, continually criticize him, continually say all night how wrong wrong wrong he was, and goad him on at every single chance she had.
I was absolutely, 100% sure of this. And wrote about it months ago.
I know I wasn't alone in this. I know there were others who saw the same things and said so. But that's okay. It served to confirm what I'd seen and was completely sure off.
But I was wrong about one thing.
I never expected it to happen this fast. Yipes!!
It's only been one week since the Democrats finished their convention, and the general election officially began. And already -- after just one week -- some GOP lifers are publicly jumping ship, not just saying they wouldn't vote for Trump and would stay out of the election, but saying they'd actually vote for the Democrat to help make sure he didn't win. But worse, the Republican Party is in such disarray that party officials are bizarrely talking how they could get rid of Donald Trump from the ticket and put another candidate in!!
After one week!!!!
By the way, that whole "ticket thing" is a ridiculous notion. First, Donald Trump is not quitting the race. Donald Trump is not someone who will quit the greatest attention-getting position he could ever imagine, from which if he won he would be The Most Powerful Man in the World. Is that the Donald Trump any of you see??? It's his very self-absorbed arrogance that needs this attention that has caused this problem in the first place. Unless he has a mental breakdown and has to drop out, Donald Trump is not quitting. And lest anything think that all his crazy rants and actions are the first stage alerts of a breakdown, you haven't been watching him long enough. This is who he is. He might indeed be crazy, but he's been a sociopath for decades. This isn't new, this isn't evidence of a sudden change. This is a public manifestation of Donald Trump at his fullest.
And second, let's even say that somehow mystically he's forced to quit the race. What I've yet to hear from any pundit is who on earth the GOP would get to run in his place. Would it be Mike Pence? A man so disliked by his own state party that they were relieved he took the VP nomination so that he wouldn't run for re-election as governor and lose the statehouse. Besides, I'm not sure the party nomination process works the same as elective office, where a VP nominee inherently by rule assumes the new position. And if so...then who? Paul Ryan? I doubt it. Paul Ryan wants to be president one day. And he -- and any smart GOP politician -- knows that if Donald Trump is forced out as the nominee, his legions of maniacal, die-hard supporters would be so outraged beyond all measure that they would split the Republican Party into smithereens. And any sensible, substantive Republican with a foundation knows that, too.
So, who does it leave, who'd take the job? Newt Gingrich? Chris Christie? Yeah, they'd probably take it. I don't think it would be offered. Gingrich is abhorred, and Christie is not only still hated for thanking Obama, but he has Bridgegate hanging over him. (Unlike with Hillary Clinton, the cry of "Lock him up" has real meaning.) So, all that's left is some good Republican Samurai willing to fall on his sword. Like maybe Mitt Romney, who has nothing to lose, and already has. So, it's not like getting Donald Trump to quit the race will be any great panacea for the party.
And besides, he's not quitting.
Yes, it's a horrible position for the Republican Party. Having Donald Trump as their party leader and presidential nominee risks losing the Senate and even the House. But folks, he's who you voted for. He's who your party actually wanted. And don't say you didn't know what he'd be like. We all knew what he'd be like. He told us, he showed us. For the past year. He's your guy. You're stuck with him. And you brought it on yourself.
As I wrote months ago.
In the words of your spiritual leader Clint Eastwood, quit being part of the "pussy generation." Donald Trump is your nominee. "Just fucking get over it."
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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