Trump v. Trump: Can Donald Save Himself and America?
The way things are going in this country and the world—the worst U.S. economic recovery since 1949, hideously-violent Islamic terrorism metastasizing across the globe on a daily basis, an appalling epidemic of police assassinations, an opponent who was branded a pathological liar in 1996 and has proven that assertion multiple times to the present day with even more of her treachery yet to be exposed—Donald Trump should be winning the election by acclamation.
But at this moment he appears to be floundering, losing as much or more ground than he gains by engaging in self-destructive personal battles he should never have participated in in the first place. Even when he is right, these fights accomplish nothing and almost always hurt the larger cause, allowing the media to paint him as racist, sexist or, most importantly to them, unfit to lead.
They would do so if he were St. Francis of Assisi, of course. Former Democratic pollster Pat Caddell calls pro-Clinton media bias a "terrifying crisis in democracy" for good reason. But Trump should know better than to give that media the chance to exercise that bias by naively playing into the hands of the likes of George Stephanopoulos and The New York Times.
It's his old signal to noise problem I wrote about earlier coupled with the most juvenile narcissism. And, tragically for all his supporters, not to mention the country, it doesn't appear to be getting any better.
Driven by private demons, Trump is on the verge of betraying all of us. He says repeatedly he is leading a movement, but he acts like a man off by himself, tilting at windmills. Though different in specifics, the controversies surrounding Khizr Khan and Judge Curiel both have that characteristic. In both cases, he shouldn't have gone there.
Trump—to his credit—has also said repeatedly that if he fails to win the presidency, his entire candidacy was not worth the time, money or effort. He's right, but it is worse than that. He took other more conventional politicians off the playing field who may have been able to defeat the wounded Clinton. For that reason Trump has a special responsibility now. He has to discipline himself as never before to succeed.
Can he do it? Many say it's unlikely and it's easy to see why. I'm agnostic—but hopeful.
We are soon approaching what Magic Johnson used to call "winnin' time," those last crucial minutes (in this case weeks) in the game when that discipline, that focus, will determine victory.
Can Trump hold that focus? If they can find it in them, the NeverTrumpers can be helpful. Unless they want to see a Supreme Court that would radically, perhaps irreparably, change our republic, they can postpone their crusade for the nonce. They have made their points and they will be remembered.
But the real decisions are up to Donald. He can begin by listening to his loyal supporter Rudy Giuliani, who today implored Trump to concentrate on Hillary while he (Rudy) volunteered to do the candidate's "light work." Trump should take him up on it.