}

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Political Notebook 2: What the…

Every single day—EVERY day—there’s something else that happens in the US presidential campaign that makes normal people think, “what the…?!” Donald himself is at the very centre of most of those moments, of course, and we all know there will be many more to come. It’s now so bad that nothing’s shocking any more—and yet…

Is Donald insane?

For as long as I can remember, people have said that the candidate they don’t like is “crazy”, and whether that’s an acceptable word or not, it was seldom meant literally—until this year. Now, for the first time, a growing number of mainstream people are openly wondering whether Donald’s erratic behaviour means he’s suffering from actual mental illness. Naturally, in a situation like this, not everyone agrees with long distance diagnosis, and one observer wonders about Donald’s supporters. Disability rights activists are understandably uncomfortable with this discussion because it could stigmatise ordinary people who have mental illness, so we must be careful when talking about Donald’s possible mental illness, however, if he wins the election, the man would get the nuclear codes, and we MUST know if he’s mentally stable or not—especially when he asked why the USA CAN’T use nuclear weapons!

At the very least, Donald clearly has a very real problem with letting go of what he perceives to be slights. Instead of walking away, he continues to attack, even when it harms him to do so.

Why this matters: First and foremost, the world cannot risk a mentally unstable person having access to the USA’s nuclear arsenal—this is obvious—so the world has a right to know whether someone who might become president is mentally unstable. Second, it has profound implications for what Donald could do TO the USA. This is a question that won’t go away—and it shouldn’t.

Will Donald quit?

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl set off a frenzy with an article titled, “Senior GOP Officials Exploring Options If Trump Drops Out”. The article talks only about unnamed Republicans looking at what would happen if they had to replace Donald, but it’s being reported elsewhere as if they’re actually planning to remove him, something Karl’s article doesn’t actually claim. Indeed, as Snopes pointed out, Karl doesn’t even quote any Republican officials.

Still, it’s possible that Donald might drop out, and that the reason he’s talking up his mythological “rigged election” is to give him cover for quitting when he sees he’ll lose, perhaps badly—and to a woman, no less. While that’s certainly possible, it doesn’t seem very Donald-like. On the other hand, as Jay Michaelson points out on The Daily Beast, “The RNC Can Legally Dump Donald Trump but It Has to Act Fast”. Would they do this? Well, Donald “Is Now Attacking His Own Party” as Kevin Drum put it on Mother Jones, by refusing to endorse prominent Republicans—including the Speaker of the House of Representatives! This could be just the provocation the Republican National Committee needs to dump Donald. Or, maybe it’s too late, and the Republican Party has lost to Donald. Vox lists seven options for the Republican Party, none of them good.

Why this matters: Donald is dragging the entire Republican Party down with him, and may cause several vulnerable Republicans to lose their seats—people like John McCain. The party has to do something, but has very few options, and none of them are very palatable. Quick prediction: If Donald is gone from the ticket, the RNC will replace him with Paul Ryan because he doesn’t have the same problems with severe negative poll ratings that other prominent Republicans do.

Donald’s campaign is off the rails

Regardless of whether Donald has mental illness or is at war with his own party, it’s clear his campaign is utterly off the rails: “GOP, Trump Go From 'Unraveling' to 'Break Glass' Mode”, and that means that “Donald Trump’s Campaign Might Actually Implode”. Donald bragged recently that his July fundraising was “unheard of for Republicans”, and he was right: It’s unheard of for it to be so awful. His fundraising was dwarfed by Hillary’s (See: “Hillary Is Smashing Poor Little Rich Trump in Fundraising”).

Why this matters: Donald’s convention was an utter disaster because of its terrible organisation, and now his campaign seems to be even worse, and it’s clearly Donald’s own fault. With a badly run campaign, poor fundraising, and little advertising reserved so far, Donald may be defeating himself, and taking down ballot Republicans with him. They can’t stand by and let that happen if they want their party to survive.

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