Is the Teflon wearing thin or has Trump become a master of rope-a-dope?
I report; you decide.
First, Peggy Noonan describes Trump’s bizarre behavior during a Washington Post interview:
The mad scatterbrained-ness of it was captured in a Washington Post interview with Philip Rucker in which five times by my count—again, the compulsion—Mr. Trump departed the meat of the interview to turn his head and stare at the television. On seeing himself on the screen: “Lot of energy. We got a lot of energy.” Minutes later: “Look at this. It’s all Trump all day long. That’s why their ratings are through the roof.” He’s all about screens, like a toddler hooked on iPad.
As for the currently favored meme, to the effect that Trump will change, Noonan responds:
Mr. Trump is not going to get serious about running for president. He does not have a second act, there are no hidden depths, there will be no “pivot.” It is not that he is willful or stubborn, though he may be, it’s that he doesn’t have the skill set needed now—discretion, carefulness, generosity, judgment. There’s a clueless quality about him. It’s not that he doesn’t get advice; it’s that he can’t hear advice, can’t process it or turn it into action.
Noonan believes that the only question remaining is whether Trumpism will be defeated with Trump.
Next, hedge fund manager Doug Kass has peered into his crystal ball and prophesied that Trump might drop out of the race. He made this prediction in June, so we are naturally intrigued by his suggestion. Given that it might all be wishful thinking, we note that Kass is not alone in suggesting it:
No one seems able to control Trump -- not his family, not campaign chief Paul Manafort and certainly not Republican National Committee head Reince Priebus and the rest of the GOP leadership. In fact, Trump's recent behavior has become so aberrant and self-destructive that there's talk of top Republicans pleading for an "intervention."
I would challenge anyone to find an historical precedent to Trump's behavior over the past week. It defies political or intellectual reasoning. To some, The Donald appears bound and determined to destroy his own campaign, family and party. It almost suggests that Trump doesn't want to win the election -- something I consider a very real possibility.
The point has some cogency. If Trump likes his life, why would he want to trade in his aerie for the fishbowl on Pennsylvania Avenue? Why would he want the responsibility for everything that goes right or wrong in the world? Keep in mind, if Trump is elected he will be relying largely on the advice of other people. Does he know enough to know who is giving good or bad advice? If he is not anxious, he is not human.
Perhaps, Kass opines, Trump will win it all in the debates. But, what if he does not:
With tumbling polls, dwindling endorsements, a lack of organization and an absence of big donors like the Koch Brothers, Trump will likely enter the first debate as a dangerously exposed candidate.
If polls show Clinton trouncing him after this one-on-one, I expect that will tip over Trump's candidacy. The embarrassment of a potential landslide loss to Clinton could serve as a breaking point for Trump, who doesn't like to lose or look bad.
In that scenario, The Donald would announce that he's "no longer an active candidate" -- in effect, quitting the race. Trump would remain on the ballot, but Clinton would essentially run unopposed. The Donald would likely blame his decision on others, perhaps stating that his party was not supportive to his candidacy or that the system is "rigged."
Piers Morgan has a different take. Writing in the Daily Mail he suggests that Trump will never quit:
Those who think you may even quit the race because you can’t stand the heat have been spending too long puffing the wacky baccy.
You hate quitters, as I discovered when I competed in Celebrity Apprentice and watched you reserve particularly virulent ridicule for those who walked away rather than stay and fight.
To you, quitting is even worse than losing and we all know how much you hate losing.
But if you are to win in November then you have to re-calibrate your campaign and change tactics, and do so fast.
Now, Morgan has a checklist of what Trump has to do to win. I will not summarize it. You have probably heard it all. We are confident that Trump has heard it many times.
The question is: can he do it or does he want to do it? As of today the signs are, he cannot or does not want to.