The love child of Hitler and Mussolini Trump is not. He lacks the discipline and zeal to be a successful fascist. ~ FRANK RICH
For a year now, we've been trying to figure out who Donald Trump is, but in the last week that's become blindly obvious: He's everything and nothing.
This has been hiding in plain view, but we can be forgiven that it has taken so long to sort things out. After all, we live in confounding times. (The Cavs beating the Warriors in seven games in Oakland? Come on!) The Trump clincher, at least for me, was the reaction of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee to the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, and it was only then that the whole 'orama finally clickety-clicked into place.
You'll recall that Trump did not put politics aside, let alone call for Americans to come together. Instead he tweeted about his powers of foresight -- that he'd predicted such a thing would happen -- and then for good measure blamed President Obama, implying that he's a secret traitor, and demonized American Muslims while he was at it.
In case we hadn't gotten the point, he added the next day that perhaps not even his proposed ban on immigrants from places where God is not a white Anglo-Saxon was strong enough, and noted that shooter Omar Mateen was from a country called "Afghan," although he, like Trump, was born in a country called New York City, just not in the wealthy, lily-white enclave of Jamaica Estates in Queens.
Then on Tuesday, lest anyone miss his insinuation that Obama is a Muslim Manchurian candidate, Trump declared that "Look, we're led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he's got something else in mind. And the something else in mind -- you know, people can't believe it."
Trump then asked us to remember that he's "a friend of women and the LGBT community," pledging to gay Americans that "I will fight for you." We didn't remember any such thing, of course, because he supports an amendment banning same-sex marriage, which he reiterated on Wednesday.
That was the day Trump really hit his stride. He solidified the support of Native American voters by yet again calling Elizabeth Warren "Pocahontas," and noted later in a speech that he had long opposed the Iraq war (he supported it) and called out the American troops who fought there for being "crooked as hell."
"How about bringing baskets of money, millions and millions of dollars, and handing it out?" he asked. "I want to know who are the soldiers that had that job because I think they're living very well right now, whoever they may be." (A spokesman later denied that Trump had said what he said.)
On Thursday, Trump rested. Actually, he flip-flopped on gun control, noting that Hillary Clinton wants to repeal the Second Amendment (false) and tweeting that he would be meeting with the National Rifle Association, "who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, the no fly list, to buy guns." (The NRA dutifully responded that it too opposed terrorists packing heat, but it opposes the no-fly ban.) Trump then wrapped up the day by claiming that "a tremendous flow of Syrian refugees" has been entering the U.S. because of our Islamofascist president. (The total between 2012 and 2016 was a paltry 2,000.)
On Friday, Trump said of Russian Thug-in-Chief Vladimir Putin, "In terms of leadership, he is getting an A," and suggested that a shootout at the Orlando club "would have been a beautiful, beautiful sight, folks, that would have been a beautiful, beautiful sight."
This was about the time that the latest results from national polls hove into view. They were "brutal" as the banned-from-the-campaign bus Washington Post put it, but what the hay.
"So I'm four down in one poll, three and a half in another that just came out, and I haven't started yet," Trump noted, ignoring the polls in which Clinton has opened a double-digit lead and the fact that his numbers are the suckiest in the last three election cycles.
I haven't started yet.
That's exactly what Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, among other Republican Party elites, fear as each succeeding Nixon-to-China moment in Trump's campaign sends his poll numbers further south while diminishing the party's longer-than-long longshot chances to take back the White House, let alone hold onto the Senate.
These bigs kept hoping that Trump would "pivot," to use a favorite newspaper headline word of the moment. (It's short and snappy, while "revolve on his axis" is anything but.)
But . . . the chances of Trump morphing into a kinder, gentler and more grounded candidate who doesn't advocate violence, invite comparisons to dictators and repel most voters with insults and braggadocio, let alone do the bare nuts-and-bolts minimum to run a national campaign, are as remote as Jamaica Estates is to the real world.
Trump's dismissal yesterday of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who had steered the campaign with spectacular success through the primaries even if he had the tact of a Mafia hit man, was revealing. It was the most pungent example to date of Trump finding a fall guy for his own self-inflcted mess. It was too little too late. Besides which, Trump does not have a campaign in the traditional sense with fundraisers, field workers and computer wonks. And the move failed to elicited a single welcoming statement from a dispirited party elite. (Although The New York Times did use "pivot" in its headline on the ouster. )
It is accepted wisdom by now that the Republican Party is a burned-out hulk that has been waiting for a Nowhere Man with a Nowhere Plan to send it over the electoral cliff, and denying Trump the nomination, even if that was possible, would only hasten the party's implosion.
But the most important factor is that positive poll numbers have been Trump's oxygen, and now he's slowly suffocating.
POLITIX UPDATE IS WRITTEN BY SHAUN MULLEN, A VETERAN JOURNALIST AND BLOGGER FOR WHOM THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN IS HIS 12th SINCE 1968. CLICK HERE FOR AN INDEX OF PREVIOUS COLUMNS.© 2015-2016 SHAUN D. MULLEN.
USED WITH PERMISSION.