That Ship Has Sailed

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August 3, 2016 9:28 a.m.
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There’s a lot of chatter this morning – based on absolutely nothing, so far as I can tell – that Donald Trump might drop out of the presidential race. I emphasize: as far as I can tell, chatter based on nothing but what I suspect is wishful thinking on the part of Republicans. At the same time, reporters are quoting high level Republicans sources saying that in the next few days top tier Republicans might come out in opposition to Trump. I will totally believe it when I see it.

But I can’t help but note what seems obvious.

We’ve had Judge Curiel, Megyn Kelly, the banning of an entire religion from America’s shores, the demand to deport 3% of the US population, the Khan family, protester beatings. Tell me when to stop, okay? There’s a lot more. And yet what seems to have been the red line was Trump refusing to endorse Paul Ryan and John McCain in their Republican primaries. Yes, the Khan debacle was big. But little more than a week ago we had Republicans coming out of Cleveland saying that Trump was killing it.

Even if you take a more generous view – an extremely generous view – and say that it wasn’t really the non-endorsements, that it was just the flood of everything that’s happened since the convention, still there’s a problem. Because Trump can say, not without real credibility, that the GOP power structure only turned on him when he refused to endorse them. He has maneuvered them into looking deeply craven, having missed the opportunity to abandon him on their own terms. Of course this isn’t that unfair since they are actually craven regardless.

In truth, I don’t think it’s really the Khans or the endorsements. It’s the polls. Seasoned politicians should know that a convention bounce can subside rather quickly. But this is a sizable bounce. And Trump’s behavior coming out of the DNC doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence that he’ll regain his footing.

When Trump clinched the nomination, his polls surged. It turned out to be a fleeting surge. But it provided critical grease on the skids of numerous Republicans coming around to at least nominal support for his candidacy. The dip in his numbers, fleeting or enduring, are having a similar effect. But whatever. Bad polls numbers, the refusal to endorse the House Speaker in his primary race, these appear to be the drivers. Is there really anything we’ve seen about Donald Trump in the last week that wasn’t entirely obvious two weeks ago? Of course not. This is craven and ridiculous any way you slice it. Sometimes the train is rumbling down the tracks at 120 miles an hour. You have no brakes. You have no conductor. You have no way to change physics. Sometimes that’s just how it is.

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