Here’s my question: Is calling the people of Iowa “stupid” while at a campaign rally in Iowa the sort of break-all-the-rules move that finally pushes Trump over the edge? Or is that not substantively any different from calling America a bunch of pitiful losers who need a strong man like Trump to make them winners again? Because that message — you’re a chump, but I can lift you up and make you more than a chump — has been the core resonance of the Trump message (along with the dark undertone of a promised revenge against the people — Mexicans, elites, media, Wall Street — who’ve been treating you like a chump.)
Kevin Drum called last night’s Trump speech “a 95-minute meltdown.” It’s true that when you watch the snippet of Trump fooling around with his belt to cast further doubt on Ben Carson’s stabbing story (those last 15 words standing as a lasting tribute to the 2016 GOP presidential primary), it does give you pause. But more than anything, the Trump schtick — I’m a winner and I can make you a winner again! — doesn’t resonate the same way when Trump himself is losing to a Mr. Magoo like Carson. That’s just a hard sell, even for the “stupid” people of Iowa.