Double Down, Ramp It Up

Remember how easy it used to be to screw up your chance to be president (or even vice president)? Those were the good old days. Here’s a little visual quiz. See if you can remember what’s going on in each of these pictures. I’ll give you a slam dunk for the first one. Meet you below the pics.

hart

Gary Hart resigned his senate seat in 1988 to run for president. He was the front-runner in the primary when allegations of womanizing forced him to drop out. That’s right, allegations.

Ed Muskie shed a tear during a NH speech. See ya.

Gore sighed at some stupid thing Bush said in a debate. Elitist!

GHWB looked at his watch during a debate. Outrage!

Thomas Eagleton saw a therapist once for depression. Lunatic!

Biden defends himself against plagiarism charges. OK, you got me there.

When Trump entered the race last year, a lot of people were saying it’s just a publicity stunt like everything else he does. He’s so obviously unqualified, even he knows this can’t go anywhere. As time went on, his scattershot nonsense somehow resonated with Republican primary voters (surprise, surprise), but even as he gained momentum, the guys who thought they were actually running things did not take him seriously.

They said, “When the field slims down and people can unite behind an establishment candidate, this will change”. Then it was the “Anyone But Trump” movement, the brokered convention hope, and a few other fleeting intermediate manifestations of denial. Finally it was, “Now that he’s the nominee, he’ll pivot and show that he is actually ‘presidential'”.

Throughout it all, many people still held to the belief that even Trump knows he can’t do the job and, let’s face it, wouldn’t want to.  He will find a face-saving way to bow out before it’s too late. As the mountain of bullshit coming from the Trump campaign grew, the thought was that sooner or later he’ll say something so over-the-top that even FoxNews will turn on him and he’ll have to quit.

But it never happened. In fact there was so much jaw-dropping blather to refute, fact-check, and just marvel at, you didn’t have time to re-act to a particular thing before there were two more outrages to process. Re-tweeting shit from white supremacists? Mocking people with disabilities? Trump University? Buffett doesn’t pay taxes? Obama founded ISIS, not figuratively but literally? Ted Cruz’ father conspired to kill Kennedy?  Even starting a small list diminishes the importance of  the dozens of other “should disqualify” things you forgot about.

No one ever held him accountable for any of it. And if someone did try to call him on something, he never took a step back from it, other than the occasional “He was just kidding, and, anyway, why aren’t we talking about Clinton’s emails” from Kellyanne Conway.

It was always double down. And then ramp it up.

Finally Trump’s exit strategy reveals itself. The way out is clear. Go down swinging as hard as you can and take your 50 million “followers” with you to the next level.  We can look forward to Trump monopolizing what passes for political discourse in this country for the next four years, and making a ton of money in the process.  No one can take their eyeballs off the spectacle, and eyeballs are money, as our finest “journalists” readily admit. You might as well call the coming media empire the DHC Network – Delegitimize Hillary Clinton. “Lock Her Up” was just a taste of what’s to come.

Can’t “Make America Great Again”? No worries, it was actually “Ruin America for Personal Gain” all along.

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