Donald Trump Won in Nevada. So What?

By the time Trump neutered Bill Clinton, we were well into Chapter Two. Somehow, Trump had gone from being impossible to being inevitable more or less overnight. Now he had "momentum." The large and enthusiastic crowds were suddenly evidence not of the incontinent emotions of his followers, but the inevitability of his nomination.

Neither story was accurate. Donald Trump was never impossible. Nor is he now inevitable. It would be useful to have some of Donald Trump's golf partners step forward.

On Monday, a well placed friend told me that over the years he had run into many of Trump's partners on the links.  "He doesn't only cheat in every game," my friend said, "He cheats on every hole. You can hear the splash of a ball going into the pond. But when his partners catch up to Trump, they find him standing over his ball on the fairway, claiming that that's where the ball landed."

This is of a piece with Trump's sullied reputation as a businessman. I have heard from several sources that his common procedure is to pay his creditors 75% or 80% of what he owes them and then, when they ask for the balance, tell them to sue. I suspect we will be hearing a lot about Donald Trump's business practices in the coming weeks. By all accounts, it will tell the story of an unscrupulous bully and cheat.

Much has been made of Trump's populist appeal. That appeal will vanish, I predict, once Trump's character is subject to the scrutiny it deserves.

Exactly a month ago, I wrote about Trump and "the madness of crowds." The phrase was from Charles Mackay’s classic book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. For the moment, I noted, Trump occupies that empyrean of seeming invulnerability that occasionally cloaks movements of ecstatic enthusiasm. Point out Trump’s past support for Hillary, for Obama, for Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, mention his abuse of eminent domain to grab private property for his casinos, and his acolytes will respond: “He just did what he had to do to make his business succeed.”  Couldn’t John Gotti have said the same thing?

Mackay was writing about such curiosities as Tulipmania in 17th century Holland, when a single bulb could, briefly, be traded for the price of a mansion, or various money or stock schemes like the South Sea Bubble or the Mississippi Scheme or the (perhaps more pertinent in this case) “the popular admiration for great thieves.” A common thread of these admonitory tales, I noted, "is the giddy rapidity of ascent followed by sudden and cataclysmic collapse once the spell is broken, which it always is."

The $64,000 question, of course, is exactly when the rude awakening will come. I pray it will not be too late.