Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are setting the controls for the heart of the sun. There is no longer time for any fine tuning, softening of edges, or these fabled ‘pivots’ we’ve been promised time and again. No, now we have a terminal sprint to the finish line on whatever exhausted third wind both candidates have mustered into the Fall. While Donald Trump has settled into his comfort zone like a hospice patient allowed to have chocolate pudding ten times a day- the damage is already done. Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrinch and Chris Christie’s Misogynist Anonymous club has been enabling Trump’s patently unpalatable tenor with no real ambition to the White House. Mind you, Giuliani, Gingrich, Christie have all run successful campaigns at one time. They understand the Trump campaign is not a blueprint for a successful campaign for anything more taxing than junior high hall monitor; and even then, Trump’s predilection for despotic, authoritarian regimes gives Mrs. Hoover’s seventh period history class grave concerns.
After Tuesday night’s Presidential debate, which garnered more than eighty million viewers, there should be no doubt that Trump must have moved on from campaign managers Kelly Anne Conway and Steve Bannon and went full tilt by bringing on the ghost Dr. Death, Jack Kevorkian, as chief strategist. Running that questionable metaphor into the ground, I could say that Trump’s presidential bid effectively committed assisted suicide on stage at Hofstra University but that would be a misnomer. As a truism of this election cycle has proven, Donald Trump needs no one else’s help to kneecap his own momentum. His opponent, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, remained poised behind her podium barely capable to holding back the same slack jawed awe viewers held at Trump’s vapid and self-incriminating deflections. While her oratory was nothing in itself to inspire or convert, much like her campaign, it was professional and effective, concerned more with landing body blows than getting signatures in the back of her yearbook.
While Clinton has settled into a lane that works, this lane still offers change. For much of the early campaign we winced at the heavy-handed attempts to make the candidate appear human and relatable. The online ad “Seven ways Hillary is like your abuela” was rightfully ridiculed across the same social media platforms she struggled to grasp as effectively as Donald Trump. Clinton has stopped projecting her voice, letting the microphones do the work for her. She’s stopped (for the most part) these overly-rehearsed one liners that induce nothing but crickets. Best crystallized in her Between Two Ferns appearance opposite Zach Galifianakis, it was her deadpan reactions to Galifianakis’s actions that sold all of the jokes and presented her as mature and serious, while at the same time giving her a “sense of humor” without her really having to possess any.
This delivery/reaction shtick was carried over for the debate by an unwitting Donald Trump who continued to land increasingly outlandish and proactive statements to which Clinton merely laughed along with the audience or proffered up a whip-smart rejoinder that drew laughter or applause several times. This vaudeville routine ran its course throughout the ninety minutes with everyone but the most dyed-in-the-wool Trump supporters acknowledging the debate as a Clinton knockout.
Trump wasted no time in calling his FoxNews friends the next morning to spin the debate to his end. What made it surprising (and yet, not really at all) was that he chose, without any prompting, to relitigate the unwinnable position of calling Alicia Machado, former winner of Trump’s Miss Universe pageant, “Ms. Piggy” and “Ms. Housekeeping” after she gained a negligible amount of weight. Never has there been a more unwinnable argument than that which involves the criticism of a woman’s weight. What’s most inscrutable is that Trump does not deny any of the treatment he inflicted upon Alicia Machado, rather, he has been attempting, for several days in a row, to defend the reasoning behind demeaning and debasing another person.
A great example of the disparity of discourse- At three a.m. EST, Presidents Obama and Clinton were in Israel paying tribute to the legacy of Shimon Peres, one of Israel’s greatest Prime Ministers. At the same time, Trump was staying up late in bed firing off a string of paranoid and conspiracy-laden tweets that culminated in the Republican nominee for the office of the President of the United States suggesting that people should “check out sex tape” as a further means to delegitimize Alicia Machado’s accusations, one for which he has yet to deny or apologize. Additionally, there is no sex tape with Alicia Machado that has been found to date. The insinuation is the result of the right-wing tin foil hat echo chamber that Trump plugs into exclusively. Interestingly enough, Trump’s adult film accusations have turned up his own cameo role in a softcore Playboy film from 2000 called, Playmate of the Year; a thought that makes me want to deep-bleach my hippocampus.
There may be a ulterior motive for Trump in this nonsense. It is one that he has employed throughout his campaign. A controlled burn, Trump has repeated set fire to his lead. Scorching the edges of his acceptability today to stave off the raging inferno of incompetence that is always howling in from yesterday. The reckless methodology has always bought him a fresh tomorrow to reset or dig in deeper. With less than forty days left, Trump is running out of runway and the wheels are still skipping off of the tarmac. There is simply not enough time left in this election for this orange salamander to continue amputating gangrenous limbs and expect to grow anything salvageable back in time.
If his patented bait and switch’s aim is no longer the presidency but merely obfuscation, you may have your answer. Throughout the campaign, Trump has feed into social media with a larger and more bombastic lede every morning to drone out the transgressions of yesterday. Hectoring Alicia Machado with less than forty days left is political suicide. It just is, even for Trump. Not that the incident on its own is terminally damning considering what has preceded, but by solely focusing on it for nearly a week instead of offering salient attacks of any kind against a vulnerable Democratic opponent, the Trump campaign has squandered nearly twenty percent of his remaining time before the polls open on November 8th on a PR seppuku.
He’s done so to drown out the fact that in one week a Newsweek cover story has proven that Trump has done business in Cuba in the 1990’s while the embargo was in full effect. To make matters worse, Trump did so knowingly and skirted the embargo by funneling money through a shell company that was then directed to disperse the money through charitable efforts. Then, a few days later, it was revealed that the Trump Foundation’s New York set up is fraudulent and not actually legally permitted to accept contributions, a detail that the New York District Attorney’s office is currently looking into. And Saturday night, while Alec Baldwin was skewering him in real time, leaked pages from a portion of a one of Trump’s tax returns went online, showing that the real estate mogul not only lost a billion dollars in a year, but for many, many years he paid nothing in income tax, after all. A truth that neither Trump nor his Jonestown sycophants are willing outright refute when reporters ask them along the trail.
Donald Trump has kicked over a lot of stones, many his own. He has shaken a lot bee hives in this past year and a half. The effect has driven a hivemind of supporters with the resolute loyalty shown of drones to their queen. But to put it country simple, it has also pissed off a fair share of people in positions of power. There may be quite a few 3 a.m. tweetstorms in the future if Trump’s main objective is to stay one step ahead of the growing snowball. Come November 9th, win or lose, Donald Trump may find himself buried underneath the avalanche he’s been feeding into for the past forty years.