Not Taking It Well

Donald Trump says he never loses, but he’s losing this election. The polling shows he’s lost it already – although at the moment his chances of winning have spiked to almost fourteen percent. That’s not good enough for other Republicans. They’re in the process of trying to save themselves – and the Senate, if they can. They can’t – but Trump is the real lost cause. Forget him – and that means that the man who knows that he never loses, and reminds everyone that he never loses, and if elected, America will never lose again, ever, on anything, now has to come to terms with the unthinkable. He has to think the unthinkable. That’s hard to do, but he lost. Expect rationalizations.

This will be odd. Sophie Kohn of CBC Comedy imagines this:

The man who owns large chunks of New York City, inherited millions of dollars in his youth from his father, and is married to a Slovenian supermodel who eagerly agrees with his every word and deed pouted today that the system is set up for him to fail.

“It’s so unfair,” the straight white man explained to the thousands of reporters around the world who hang on his every word on a daily basis.

“All I ask is that America give people a fair shot at succeeding,” added the man, who exists in a society that’s given him multiple television shows where he is free to boost his public profile and exercise tremendous power over young businessmen and women, in many cases publicly humiliating them and singlehandedly dictating the direction of their careers.

“It’s completely unacceptable that I’d be the target of such a deeply entrenched conspiracy to oppress me and prevent me from flourishing,” he shouted before asking one of his five healthy, successful children that other people raised to hop in the family’s private jet and just quickly check on the 18 different golf courses he owns around the globe.

That’s not far off the mark, nor is this:

“This country is wronging me in ways I will never, ever forgive,” bellowed the man, who, despite his complete and total lack of political experience, compassion, and basic human decency, has enjoyed an easy rise to the most sought-after political position in the country and is taken seriously as a legitimate presidential candidate by the entire earth.

The man concluded his statements by begrudgingly mumbling that somehow, he’ll find the courage to accept that the American political system is endlessly mistreating him and silencing his voice.

“Even so, I may purchase a 1.1-million dollar billboard in Times Square on which to air some of my grievances,” he said. “I’ll take it out of petty cash.”

That sounds about right, but Jenna Johnson, reporting from Fletcher, North Carolina, covers Trump’s actual reaction to the facts of the matter:

As he took the stage here in this mountain town Friday afternoon, Donald Trump was as subdued as the modest crowd that turned out to see him. He complained about the usual things – the dishonest media, his “corrupt” rival Hillary Clinton – but his voice was hoarse and his heart didn’t seem in it.

He also promised to do all that he could to win, but he explained why he might lose.

“What a waste of time if we don’t pull this off,” Trump said. “You know, these guys have said: ‘It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. There’s never been a movement like this in the history of this country.’ I say, it matters to me if we win or lose. So I’ll have over $100 million of my own money in this campaign.”

“So, if I lose,” Trump continued as the crowd remained unusually quiet, “If I lose, I will consider this -“

Trump didn’t finish his sentence, but he didn’t really need to. After weeks of controversy and declining poll numbers, Trump and his campaign have settled into a dark funk. Even as he vows to prevail in the race, the GOP nominee’s mood has soured with less than three weeks to go until Election Day.

There’s a reason for that:

His final debate performance this week was a bust, with him snarling that Clinton was “such a nasty woman” and gritting his teeth as he angrily ripped pages off a notepad when it was over. He is under fire from all quarters for refusing to say he will honor the election results if he loses, while 10 women have now come forward accusing him of groping or kissing them without consent. The capper to Trump’s bad stretch came Thursday night, when a ballroom full of New York City’s glitterati booed him as he gave remarks attacking Clinton at a charity roast.

Nothing is going right, and the rationalizations begin.

The gloomy mood has extended to his signature rallies, which Trump used to find fun. During the primaries, he would bound onto rally stages bursting with energy and a sense of excitement that intensified as the crowds chanted his name and cheered his every word. He would regularly schedule news conferences, call into news shows and chat with reporters, eager to spar with them. He would say politically incorrect things and then watch his polling numbers soar. He used to be the winner.

But no more. In recent days, Trump has tried to explain away his slide in the polls as a conspiracy carried out by the media, Democrats and Republicans. If he loses, it will be because he was cheated, Trump has repeatedly told his supporters, urging them to go to polling places in neighborhoods other than their own and “watch.”

Trump’s supporters have concocted elaborate explanations for why he might lose, often involving massive voter fraud conducted by Democrats who will bus undocumented immigrants and people posing as people who have died to battleground states to vote illegally. There are also fears that election results in some states will be tampered with, and Trump’s backers have cheered his promise to challenge the election results if he doesn’t win.

“Since we can’t check to see if you voted in three states, you will. If you want to vote in three states, you will,” said Larry Lewis, 67, a former electrician who lives in Hendersonville. He said he doesn’t know anyone who has committed voter fraud but has gotten up to speed on the issue thanks to talk radio.

That’s the same Sophie Kohn report without the laughs. Jenna Johnson goes for the Hemingway-in-the-bitter-Paris-rain thing:

After the debate Wednesday night, Trump flew to Ohio for a Thursday rally. He abruptly walked out of two local television interviews before taking the stage in front of a smaller-than-usual crowd. After it was over, he was back at the Columbus airport, slowly plodding up the steps to his personal jet. He was alone, holding a black umbrella as a light rain fell.

Hours later, Trump sat with his wife at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner to participate in the long-standing tradition of political candidates roasting each other.

And that was a disaster:

As Clinton finished speaking, she received a standing ovation from many in the crowd. Trump clapped, then briefly stood, then sat down again, as if unsure what to do. Lip-readers caught him telling her that she did a good job.

As the dinner ended, Trump shook hands with some of the others on the stage, while a line of people wanting to talk with Clinton grew. After a few minutes, Trump and his wife made their way toward the exit.

Before ducking out, Trump flashed the crowd a thumbs up.

Some prefer comedy. Some prefer tragedy. And maybe this was both:

After a lighthearted evening in which he traded barbs with Hillary Clinton at a charity dinner, Donald Trump was back on the attack today, calling out Washington leadership and condemning the Obamas for campaigning for Clinton.

“We have a bunch of babies running our country, folks,” said Trump at a campaign rally in Fletcher, North Carolina. “We have a bunch of losers, they’re losers, they’re babies.”

That might seem to some neither comic nor tragic. “Pathetic” might be the word, but it wasn’t out of character, as this odd story surfaced:

Donald Trump told Richard Branson during their first encounter that he would spend the remainder of his life trying to destroy five people he had asked to no avail to aid him after his latest bankruptcy, the English business mogul wrote Friday.

Branson, the Virgin Group founder who wrote in his blog last week that Trump would be a “disaster” as president, described a tale of two lunches Friday, starting with his meeting with Trump.

That one stunned him:

“Some years ago, Mr. Trump invited me to lunch for a one-to-one meeting at his apartment in Manhattan. We had not met before and I accepted,” Branson wrote. “Even before the starters arrived he began telling me about how he had asked a number of people for help after his latest bankruptcy and how five of them were unwilling to help. He told me he was going to spend the rest of his life destroying these five people.”

Branson “found it very bizarre” that Trump was unwilling to talk about anything else. “I told him I didn’t think it was the best way of spending his life. I said it was going to eat him up, and do more damage to him than them,” Branson wrote. “There must be more constructive ways to spend the rest of your life. (Hopefully my advice didn’t lead to him running for President!)”

The Virgin founder was “baffled” as to why Trump had invited him to lunch for that sole topic and wondered at one point whether Trump would ask him for money.

“If he had, I would have become the sixth person on his list!” he quipped. He ultimately left the lunch “feeling disturbed and saddened” by what Trump had said.

Branson highlighted the real estate mogul’s “vindictive streak” as the most frightening thing about this election, warning it “could be so dangerous if he got into the White House.”

The lunch with Hillary Clinton went much better. She has other plans for the rest of her life, but Kevin Drum notes that no matter how personally or politically destructive it is, Donald Trump is flatly unable to ignore an attack from anyone of influence:

Nobody disputes this as a general proposition, but several people pointed out to me that there have been a few folks who attacked Trump and avoided return fire. Michelle Obama is one. Mark Cuban is another. Warren Buffett is a third – and Trump even publicly acknowledged he planned to leave Buffett alone. “There’s no counterpunch,” he said.

There aren’t a lot of examples of this, and I suppose you could say that even Donald Trump doesn’t have enough hours in the day to attack everyone who’s been nasty to him. But these are all big names, of the kind that he’d normally respond to. So what stopped him? It’s not gender: he attacks both men and women. It’s not power: he attacks plenty of powerful people. It’s not money: he’s taken on Michael Bloomberg and Carlos Slim.

So what’s the deal? How does that feverish brain of his decide who not to attack? Is it popularity? Maybe he’s careful to only counterattack people who aren’t especially popular.

No, that’s not true, as Sam Levine reports:

Donald Trump, with his standing among women badly damaged by reports of predatory behavior toward them, is now attacking Michelle Obama, one of the country’s most popular political figures.

The GOP presidential nominee’s attacks Friday come as Obama has shown herself to be one of the best surrogates for his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, on the campaign trail. She has given cutting speeches highlighting the pain that Trump’s comments about women have caused her and his refusal to promise to accept the results of the election – often without mentioning the GOP nominee’s name.

So he went there:

During a campaign stop in North Carolina, Trump criticized Obama for getting involved in the election.

“We have a president. All he wants to do is campaign. His wife – all she wants to do is campaign. And I see how much his wife likes Hillary. But wasn’t she the one that originally started the statement, If you can’t take care of your home, right? You can’t take care of the White House and the country? Where is that? I don’t hear that.”

Michelle Obama did speak about the importance of modeling strong family values during the 2008 primary campaign, but never mentioned Clinton’s name and the Obama campaign denied at the time that it was a veiled swipe at the Clintons.

It wasn’t, but Trump is who he is:

During the second presidential debate, Trump launched a similar attack on Obama, saying she had been featured in her husband’s 2008 campaign ads attacking Clinton. PolitiFact rated the claim false and noted the campaign had never run an ad featuring the comments. In fact, PolitiFact found, the super PAC that ran an ad featuring the comments was pro-Trump.

Last week, White House spokesman Eric Schultz seemed to lay the bait for Trump to attack the first lady, who had a high favorable rating of 64 percent in August, according to Gallup.

“I can’t think of a bolder way for Donald Trump to lose even more standing than he already has than by engaging the first lady of the United States,” he said.

Aaron Blake adds more:

Here’s what Trump said in Fletcher, N.C.:

“And I see how [President Obama’s] wife likes Hillary, but wasn’t she the one that originally started the statement, ‘If you can’t take care of your home,’ right, ‘you can’t take care of the White House or the country?’ Where’s that? I don’t hear that. I don’t hear that. She’s the one that started it.”

Trump then offered this as a justification for invoking the Clintons’ personal problems.

“I said, ‘We can’t say that. It’s too vicious.’ Can you believe it? I said that – ‘We can’t say that.’ They said, ‘Well, Michelle Obama said it.’ I said, ‘She did?'”

She didn’t:

President Obama denied at the time that the comment had anything to do with the Clintons. Instead, he said it was about the Bush administration. “There was no reference beyond her point that we have had an administration that talks a lot about family values but doesn’t follow through,” Obama said.

Blake says this is hardly worth talking about:

What’s clear beyond all of this is that even if Michelle Obama was digging at the Clintons, this attack was not anything close to a feature of the 2008 campaign, as it has become in the 2016 Trump vs. Clinton race.

And politically speaking, it’s a questionable decision too. When it comes to political figures in the United States, few are even close to Michelle Obama’s popularity…

Are swing voters who like her really going to believe she was getting down in the mud and attacking the Clintons nine years ago when her family denied it? It seems unlikely.

Richard Branson had it right:

Trump likes to blame others for starting his more controversial lines of attack – even blaming Hillary Clinton for starting the birther conspiracy theory. But yet again, he’s using very scant evidence and making a strained argument to avert the gaze from his own bare knuckles.

And he always wants his revenge:

Donald Trump will have “lots of options” to go after Hillary Clinton if he’s elected president, he told supporters Friday.

At a rally in Fletcher, North Carolina, Trump again dubbed his opponent “the most corrupt politician ever to seek the office of the presidency,” a charged comment that sparked raucous chants of “lock her up” from his supporters.

The Republican presidential nominee then responded to the chants with an uncharacteristic suggestion, similar to President Barack Obama’s counsel to “don’t boo, vote.”

“Well, let’s do this. Let’s do this,” he advised. “Nov. 8, let’s win. Let’s win. Let’s win.”

But he added: “We win, we have lots of options. But we gotta win.”

Richard Branson did have it right:

While his campaign manager tried to walk back his threat to jail Clinton as “a quip,” Trump has doubled down on his pledge.

And, perhaps unfamiliar with how the Supreme Court works, Trump said during the Republican primary he would “probably appoint people that would look very seriously at her email disaster because it’s criminal activity.”

“And I would appoint people that would look very seriously at that to start off with,” he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in late March, adding that Clinton is getting away with “murder.”

“If she’s able to get away with that,” he said then, “you can get away with anything.”

It’s not fair! It’s not fair! And on the other side:

Hillary Clinton entered the final phase of her campaign on Friday, working to ensure a victory that is decisive enough to earn a mandate for her presidency and a surge of voters to help Democrats win congressional races.

Emerging from a nine-day absence from the trail, Mrs. Clinton seized on the momentum of her performance in the final presidential debate, choosing Ohio – a battleground state where she has struggled the most against Donald J. Trump – as her first stop on a four-day swing. With new polls showing Mrs. Clinton closing in on Mr. Trump in the state, her campaign is glimpsing the opportunity for a clean sweep of traditional swing states.

Reminding voters of Mr. Trump’s refusal in Wednesday’s debate to say definitively he would accept the outcome on Election Day, Mrs. Clinton said that as secretary of state she had visited countries whose leaders jailed political opponents and invalidated elections they did not win. “We know in our country the difference between leadership and dictatorship,” she said.

She also portrayed herself as the candidate who could attract independent, undecided and even Republican voters unhappy with Mr. Trump’s campaign. “I want to say something to people who may be reconsidering their support of my opponent,” she said. “I know you still may have questions for me, I respect that. I want to answer them. I want to earn your vote.”

Trump never says that. He always says it’s not fair, and that’s not the problem:

With Mrs. Clinton holding a healthy lead in most national polls, Democrats have turned their focus to trying to ensure victory by as large a margin as possible, deploying Michelle Obama in Arizona and President Obama in Florida. The larger the victory, the less Mr. Trump and his supporters can claim foul play, Mrs. Clinton’s allies said.

A month ago, Ohio seemed to be aligning as a Trump stronghold, as its large bloc of white working-class voters responded to Mr. Trump’s economic populism and America-first message. But the state is now back in play, with a poll from Suffolk University in Boston showing a tied race.

There’s  a reason for that:

A decided advantage for Mrs. Clinton here is the strength of Democrats’ grass-roots efforts. The party has leased 93 offices statewide, according to Chris Wyant, the Clinton campaign director in Ohio.

Mr. Trump’s Ohio director cut ties recently with the state’s Republican chairman, Matt Borges, over Mr. Borges’s sharply worded public doubts about Mr. Trump. “They have an internal civil war on the Republican side,” Brian Fallon, Mrs. Clinton’s press secretary, told reporters here.

Trump decided to go with almost no campaign infrastructure in Ohio. His state director questioned him, and then walked away. He could easily lose Ohio now. It’s not fair?

This man does not handle loss well, and that has some odd consequences. Susan Chira notes one of them:

Donald J. Trump could well go down in history as a feminist hero.

For decades, feminists have tried to stir outrage about how women are routinely groped, belittled, and weight-shamed. Yet Mr. Trump’s words and boasts have shown millions of voters, including people who believe feminism is a dirty word, what women endure every day.

This was supposed to be an election where Hillary Clinton had to convince voters that a woman had the fitness and temperament to be president.

Yet instead of worrying whether a woman is too emotional, impulsive and unqualified for high office, voters have been weighing whether that’s true of the man running to be president.

It is true of the man running to be president:

In debates that drew the largest audience in television history and rallies featuring signs taunting Hillary Clinton as a bitch and worse, viewers saw live, visceral demonstrations of misogyny in action.

When Mr. Trump called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman,” when he repeatedly interrupted her, when he said he’d had a chance to view her from behind and didn’t like what he saw, women heard the echoes of the boorish boss and the bad boyfriend. When he talks about a woman being a 10 or a 4, when he says “look at her” as a way to deny a groping accusation, he wounds every woman who ever wondered if she was pretty enough.

When Mr. Trump was caught on tape boasting about how he could force himself on women, it prompted legions of women to go public about when they were groped – and to prompt men to ask the women in their lives what might have happened to them.

Indeed, Mr. Trump is not just a gift to feminists – he is breathing renewed life into a movement to redefine just what a real man is and ought to be.

That wouldn’t be him:

A man who prides himself on being a red-blooded embodiment of masculinity – with bodacious women there for the taking, big hands and more, political correctness be damned – has unleashed a wave of revulsion about that vision of manhood.

Men have begun asking themselves what they can do to intervene in cases of sexual harassment or denigration – how not to stand by silently. Mothers and fathers have been asking how to raise sons who do not act like this.

No one should act like this, and everyone loses now and then. The man said he never loses, ever. The man said elect him, and then America will never lose again, ever, and neither will you. And he’ll spend the rest of his life tracking down and ruining those four or five people who wouldn’t lend him a few million when he was facing bankruptcy. And Michelle Obama started it, whatever it was – no one’s quite sure. And it isn’t fair.

Donald Trump is not taking this well. That may be comic. That may be tragic. That may be pathetic. It doesn’t matter. He’ll be gone soon enough.

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About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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