One of the commie bloggers I have traditionally most detested is Heather Digby Parton. Imagine how weird life in America has become when I read a piece of hers savagely attacking the presumptive GOP nominee, and find that I enthusiastically agree with it.
Why is Donald Trump so out of sorts? Against all odds he managed to win the Republican nomination against the best and brightest stars from all factions of the Republican party. He did it without spending nearly as much money as the rest and without any study or preparation. He dominated the media which reportedly gave him a couple of billion dollars worth of free airtime. He came out of the primary five weeks ago on top of the world, ready to take on the Democrats who were still skirmishing in their primary, divided and at each othersâ€™ throats. It was the perfect time to make that presidential â€œpivotâ€ from the primary to the general and start to show non-Republican Americans that he could be their president too. That didnâ€™t happen.
Instead weâ€™ve seen Donald Trump do nothing but air his endless grievances, whine about the press, complain that heâ€™s being cheated, and double down on his dyspeptic racism, sexism and xenophobia. The more people tell him to cool it the more he explodes in public. He is the most ungracious winner in American politics. What gives?
If one had to guess itâ€™s that he thought that heâ€™d already gotten the hardest hits he was going to have to take. It seems he believed that because he faced a large group of GOP heavyweights and had the rapt attention of the press for six months that heâ€™d passed the crucible and heâ€™d get unquestioning adoration from here on in. Unfortunately, this is where political inexperience and an unwillingness to listen to anyone but sycophants and the voices in your head creates a problem. The primary was a cakewalk compared to the general election for a number of reasons, the most important being that his rivals were all walking on eggshells trying not to offend his voters. Most of them were also Republican office holders and professional politicians who have a responsibility to their party and they generally try not to destroy their own members just in case they become the nominee. By the time they realized that it might actually be Donald Trump it was too late.
The press meanwhile was stuck in a different kind of spin cycle. They mostly just gawked at the spectacle like they were reporting on a 200 car pile-up on the interstate. They didnâ€™t dig very deeply because, like the Republicans, they simply could not fathom that he would actually become the nominee. And frankly, they never really devote a ton of resources to each primary candidate. They do some perfunctory digging and check out oppo from the various rivals but they never go very deeply into the candidates until they get the nomination. But once the nomination is in hand, itâ€™s no hold barred and the press is going to delve into the nomineeâ€™s business, personal life and history in every way. Apparently, Trump didnâ€™t know this.
And heâ€™s not handling it well. There are ominous signs that his campaign is imploding, mostly due to his micromanaging and inability to cut loose his fawning primary operatives in favor of serious professionals who know how to wage a general election campaign. He is more undisciplined than ever from his embarrassing tweets to obtuse comments on the stump like â€œlook at my African-American! Look at him!â€ (It turns out the man wasnâ€™t actually a supporter.) He has dodged and prevaricated about why he wonâ€™t release his tax returns, using excuses that only a child could believe, raising questions about whether heâ€™s actually as rich as he says he is.
When the Washington Post published an expose on the Veterans fundraiser he held last winter and revealed that he had not written his own pledged million dollar check, he went ballistic on the media at a wild press conference, even calling a reporter a â€œsleazeâ€ to his face. It was angry enough for reporters to be taken aback despite the fact that he commonly calls them disgusting, despicable liars at his rallies.
And when Hillary Clinton hit him very hard with a tough speech last week in which she used his own words against him to make the case that heâ€™s dangerously unfit for the job, his response was first unusually tepid â€” he complained in a tweet that she wasnâ€™t â€œpresidentialâ€ â€” and then recklessly authoritarian. At a rally in San Jose, he let fly (at the 13:55 mark) with a long tirade about how she is President Obamaâ€™s lapdog who is doing his bidding so he wonâ€™t throw her in jail (â€œitâ€™s â€œyessir, Mr President Sir! Yessir! What would you like?! What would you like me to say here sir?!â€)Then he said this:
I used to say, leave it up to the lawyers. I have watched so many lawyers on so many different networks. I have read so much about the emails. Folks, honestly, sheâ€™s guilty as hell. Sheâ€™s guilty as hell. And the fact that they even allow her to participate in this race is a disgrace to the United States, itâ€™s a disgrace to our nation. Itâ€™s a disgrace.
So weâ€™ll see what happens, I donâ€™t know. Iâ€™ve always had great confidence in the FBI, I have great respect, I know some FBI folks, Iâ€™ve always had great confidence in them. I canâ€™t believe that they would let this goâ€¦ Iâ€™m telling you, itâ€™s a great system we have, we have a great country, weâ€™re going to make it a lot greater by the war, we love our country, but look, we love our country and I donâ€™t believe our country can let her get away with this crime, I donâ€™t believe it. So weâ€™ll see. And you know what? If they do let her get away with it, it will be a big topic of conversation on the campaign trail, I can tell you that.
And then if I win? (pauses, shrugs dramatically, shakes his head) Itâ€™s called a five year statue of limitations. If I win â€¦ everythingâ€™s going to be fair but Iâ€™m sure the Attorney General will take a very good look at it from a fair standpoint, ok? Iâ€™m sure. I think itâ€™s disgraceful.
In interviews with CNNâ€™s Jake Tapper and CBSâ€™s John Dickerson, he repeated this threat to have her criminally charged (â€œvery fairlyâ€ of course) by his own Justice Department if they fail to jail her before the election. When Dickerson asked what crime it was she was supposed to have committed he said, â€œsheâ€™s guilty of the server, sheâ€™s guilty of â€“ you look at confidential information, I mean, all of the information that probably has gotten out all over the world. And then you know what else sheâ€™s also guilty of? Stupidity and bad judgment.â€
If stupidity and bad judgment are federal crimes, Donald Trump would be serving a hundred consecutive life sentences. [Emphasis added -JDZ]
He evidently does not understand that a president does not have the power to have someone thrown in federal prison if they fail to do his bidding nor is it permissible for a presidential candidate to threaten to sic his future Attorney General on his political opponents. Itâ€™s called abuse of power and itâ€™s a very serious business. (He keeps making this â€œmistakeâ€ about presidential power in various contexts and maybe itâ€™s time that people took him at his word.)
Digby isn’t wrong (for once in her life). Trump talks about doing outrageously illegal stuff now, months before the election. His understanding of the Constitution and commitment to constitutional fidelity may actually be less than Barack Obama’s, and that is really saying something. What might not he do if he ever became president? The mind boggles.
Hat tip to Stephen Frankel.