By Robert Hurst
If you’re a student of history, or even if you’re not, you might consider the event below, because it’s going to unfold right in front of your eyes.
In the next four weeks we are going to witness the downfall of Donald J. Trump. It’s going to be a train wreck. Who can turn away from that?
Prognosticators are hesitant to predict the outcome of the U.S. election, said writer Tim Alberta in Politico last week, because Trump “has defied gravity too many times, escaped too many near-death political experiences.”
But rarely in recent memory have the signs of an electoral tsunami been so clear. When I was a reporter covering the White House during the Reagan and Bush presidencies, our focus was always on the undecided voter. It was often that large block that was the key to victory.
But not this time. Undecideds are near zero.
If one takes a deep dive into state-by-state trends, the messages and signals in the data should turn Republican blood stone cold. Women voters are abandoning Trump in droves. Republican strategists call it a “nightmare collapse”, the likes of which they have never seen before. Seniors, a Republican stronghold, are also turning on Trump. Stunningly, Trump is behind in hard-core Trump states like Arizona and Texas. Republican Senator Ted Cruz, from Texas, said on Saturday, we are facing “a bloodbath of Watergate proportions.”
When did this growing disenchantment with Trump begin?
Voters have been abandoning Trump since day one. The accidental president morphed into a renegade. His anger and antics have burned the very people who voted for him. Insults to military families. Blacks and Charlottesville. Seniors and COVID. Soccer moms and school closures. The jobless. Puerto Ricans and paper towels. Mexicans and rapists. Gen Xers. The lies. And the lying.
The first clear indication that Trump was in serious trouble were the U.S. midterm elections. Republicans were trounced. For a while Trump was fun and entertaining. But the buffoonery has become boring. And toxic. Many are laughing at Trump. In politics, it’s the kiss of death when voters start laughing at you.
Thirty years ago, Trump had a dramatic downfall.
In 1991 he claimed to be the ‘Real Estate King’ of New York. He built a billion-dollar casino in Atlantic City. He wanted to own an NFL team. He bought the fabled Plaza Hotel on a whim. He bought the Eastern Airlines Shuttle, a no frills hop-on service.
I remember flying the Trump Shuttle between Washington and New York. He painted his planes white and plastered his name on the side. He made it a luxury airline. The seats were leather in light brown. The belt buckles were chrome. Gold fixtures in the lavatory. I remember listening to a musician play a grand piano at the LaGuardia boarding gate.
But it was a Potemkin airline. It flew for less than two years. The airline and the rest of Trump’s enterprises collapsed. It was all a castle built on sand, washed away when the monthly payments came due. His companies filed for bankruptcy six times. He was a con man, stiffing banks, fleecing investors, and swindling pension funds. He shafted carpenters and plumbers.
And he cheated on his wife, Ivana, who walked out.
When Trump declared his candidacy, the New York Daily News put a picture of Trump on its front page with the headline: “Clown Runs For President”. But the gullible American voters viewed him as a television star and ignored the history lesson from 1991.
And so the snake oil salesman continued his craft.
Now, in his final campaign, Trump envisions himself as the Grand Master of political gamesmanship. But he’s really playing Crazy 8s. Some of Trump’s schemes these days are straight-out embarrassing and sad.
He sent his sons to campaign in Florida last week. Don Jr.’s rally was in the parking lot of the Stepp Tow Truck company in Tampa. Eric’s rally was in the parking lot of Semco Materials, a metal fabricator, located in an industrial park in Jacksonville. Are we going to see a Trump rally in the parking lot at the My Pillow factory in Chaska, Minnesota?
In these final weeks, Trump is becoming more like a character from Looney Tunes. Last week he called Kamala Harris a monster and a communist. He demanded the arrest of Barrack Obama. In the past few days he announced he has discovered a cure for COVID-19. “Praise Be to God”—we’re all saved. Even Kim Jong Un would not be so vacuous.
The point is, the evidence is everywhere that most Americans have abandoned Donald J. Trump.
Like Humpty Dumpty, his fall will be fast and hard and permanent because All the Kings Horses and All the Kings Men have mostly deserted him.
Robert Hurst was CTV’s Washington Correspondent from 1988-1992
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