What a difference a week makes. The buildup to last week’s debate was breathless, and so was the debate itself, what with Trump wasting his energy interrupting Hillary and getting red in the face as she baited him all evening. He clearly had not prepared much other than to ask himself who the best-looking, smartest, most leader-like candidate in the race was. And of course his mirror had the answer, as it always does.
Then came the continuing attack on Alicia Machado as Trump tried to tie her to a sex tape and other sordid events from her past, many of which she has owned up to. But he fell into the Republican male blame-the-victim trap. Ms. Machado might have some things in her past. That doesn’t mean it’s in any way excusable for him to shame her about her weight. And then to continue to do so on Twitter at 3:00am when nobody should do anything on any electronic device anywhere. Anywhere. Go back to sleep.
And of course today there’s the report that Trump might not have paid any income tax over an 18 year period because of, well, the tax laws. And the reason he might not have had to pay was because his businesses…sucked wind. Went bankrupt. Failed. For someone who’s running on his managerial and business acumen, he surely doesn’t have a successful track record. But why would that surprise anyone? He’s been running on non-sequiters and nonsense for over a year. Now that the national media has woken up, he’s not getting away with saying the things that his base voters think is true.
What’s also remarkable about the past week is that media outlets that are normally rock-solid Republican, like the Arizona Republic and the Cincinnati Enquirer. USA Today went out of their way to tell people how dangerous the man is. The free ride is over.
The polls, which saw movement towards Trump as of last weekend, are now moving to Clinton. That’s good news for her, but she does have to be careful because this week has been all about Donald the Terrible and very little about Clinton’s vision for the future. I’m sure she’ll take the help that Trump is giving her, but she really did want to spend the post-debate period talking positively about what she’d do to help the country. I’m not sure that Trump will ever let her do that because he’ll do anything to keep the media spotlight on him and he clearly has no desire to enunciate a coherent policy agenda over the final 5 weeks of the campaign.
There are two more presidential debates, and a VP face-off on Monday, but really, can Donald Trump undo the damage he’s done over the past few months? Does the GOP and the media think that one good, solid debate performance from him will wipe away the things he’s said about women, minorities and every other group in this country? I don’t think so, plus he’s shown no compulsion to do anything except try to convince the electorate that he is absolutely right on every issue and that only he can fix our problems. This has to be frustrating to Hillary because she can’t seem to lead the headlines with policy, as she wants to. The next debate will likely be an even worse experience for her as I’m expecting Trump to interrupt every answer she tries to give and to bring up everything except what he’ll do the help the country.
It will be fiery television, but not much else.