When we look back on the rise and fall of Donald John Trump the presidential candidate, one day in particular will capture the utter depravity of his campaign: Friday, September 16, 2016.
It had been just another ho-hum week for Trump, who had boasted about his testosterone levels on a celebrity doctor's television show, accused the Fed chairwoman of corruption, mocked an African-American pastor, again referred to Senator Elizabeth Warren as "Pocahontas," again suggested his supporter shoot his opponent, and still refused to release his tax returns.
Then on the morning of September 16, Trump summoned journalists for a "major news announcement" that turned out to be an infomercial for his new Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. and yet another opportunity for him to punk compliant cable news channels that had breathlessly gone live.
But before the morning was out, there was much bigger news than that even if it took the Cheeto Jesus a mere 31 seconds to deliver it. With no follow-up questions allowed.
Trump grudgingly and unapologetically disavowed his self-made lie that Barack Obama was not American born, but jump started yet another false conspiracy by blaming Hillary Clinton for creating the birther controversy that he himself had ignited and fanned for the last five years in a sick effort to undermine the legitimacy of the nation's first black president.
Even at this late date in the Trump cavalcade of perversity, reasonable people -- and there still are a few of us out there -- wonder why he would promote a lie for years and years. But yet again, attempting to apply logic to a Trumpian moment utterly fails. It does not matter whether he did it because he's an attention freak, a racist or merely a cynic, or that he kept doing it even as his own aides and his party disavowed it.
And that is the true depravity of Donald Trump.
I have said from the jump that Hillary Clinton will beat Donald Trump in a landslide. I'm not backing away from that view even as many national polls tighten and Democratic loyalists take to the fainting couch, but I will concede that I was off a half a bubble when it came to two key aspects of the presidential race: Clinton's strategy of correctly portraying Trump as an unacceptable kook was the right one because he is not doing well, but that strategy hasn't been right enough. And Clinton herself is even more unpopular than I thought.WHY CLINTON WILL STILL WIN -- IN A LANDSLIDE
When you strip away a layer or three from the more credible national polls, these things become obvious:
* It is small comfort, but Trump's numbers have not improved and he is getting less support than Republican candidates typically do. His numbers have remained static for weeks, which reinforces my view that he pretty much hit his ceiling of support before the GOP national convention in early July.
* Alternately, Clinton's numbers have not improved significantly, and she too is getting less support than Democratic candidates typically do. The main drag on Clinton is not Trump, it is Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, who are polling about 10 percent and 3 percent, respectively.
* If you factor out those third-party candidates, then Clinton's lead over Trump jumps from about 2 to 5 percent to about 12 to 15 percent. If history is any guide, and it still is even in this weirdest of election seasons, support for both Johnson and Stein will erode between now and Election Day. Clinton is likely to inherit most of it.
Or at least we hope she does.
INTRODUCING THE TRUMP DOCTRINE
This campaign has been precedent setting in many ways. Unfortunately, none of them have been good. And now we can add one more: While a good case can be made that George W. Bush became a war criminal, Donald Trump would already be on record as stating he would have no problem in being one.
Beyond Trump's embrace of torture and killing the innocent families of terrorists, he wants the U.S. to become a nation that steals from its enemies. As he told Matt Lauer in the now infamous commander-in-chief forum in the context of grabbing Iraqi oil:
"It used to be to the victor belong the spoils . . . but now we have all sorts of rules and regulations, so the soldiers are afraid to fight."
Inconveniently for Trump, plundering is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, as is torture. But none of that matters under the Trump Doctrine, which makes Colin Powell's view, as revealed in a hacked email, that Trump is "a national disgrace and international pariah" all the more accurate.
Trump, of course, thinks he can get away with this. Which brings out another of his defining characteristics: He's a bully. But like bullies, he also is a coward.
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