I was online last night when I saw someone say, ‘Just think how differently this would be going if Rubes or Kasich were the nominee.’ I actually think Clinton would be doing much better in those contests than a lot of people realize. But the counter-factual jarred me into a sudden realization: It’s not just that Trump isn’t doing well. He’s barely running a campaign at all.
He’s spent the last six weeks in an erratic barrage of self-inflicted wounds and petulant attacks on people who he needs to be critical allies. Not just Rubio or Kasich but any other candidate would be spending this time fleshing out a campaign team – usually bringing in the best operatives from the defeated primary challengers – developing campaign themes focused on the Democrats’ nominee, raising and stockpiling money. These may not be exciting tasks but they are the critical work of standing up a national campaign, which is one part flash mob, one part Fortune 500 corporation. It’s a big, big thing that takes a lot of managerial work to set up.
Others might do it well or poorly. But Trump isn’t doing any of it. There’s a Politico story out today about how the RNC gave him the names of twenty big GOP donors to call. He got bored or frustrated and stopped after calling three. And this comes after deciding that he actually doesn’t need to raise a billion dollars.
Almost every day since he clinched the nomination almost six weeks ago has been a surreal tour through Trump’s damaged psyche – the insecurities, silly feuds, the mix of self-serving lies and attacks on people he’s supposed to be courting or justifying a supposed refusal to do things he finds himself actually unable to do (raise a billion dollars). More than anything he’s attacking almost everyone but the person he’s running against – and that, not terribly effectively. The major themes of his campaign appear to be racist “Mexican” judges, his ability to predict terror attacks and the inevitable destruction of the American republic.
It would be like sitting in the stands watching a football game. But one team isn’t even taking the field because the quarterback is on the sidelines knifing his coaches and teammates. Trump issues daily attacks on GOP insiders as corrupt pansies; they attack him as an unstable racist. You almost feel sorry for the Dems: where’s their angle in on the 2016 campaign?
It’s such a spectacle. The daily particulars are so mesmerizing that you have to step back to see that Trump isn’t even running a campaign.