Will Donald Trump drop out of the presidential campaign? (Note that he'd lose the election even if he won all of the "tossup" states in the current polls.) Will Republican leaders finally abandon their support of the GOP nominee?
As Josh Marshall at TPM says, I'll believe it when I see it. But he makes a very good point here:
There's a lot of chatter this morning - based on absolutely nothing, so far as I can tell - that Donald Trump might drop out of the presidential race. I emphasize: as far as I can tell, chatter based on nothing but what I suspect is wishful thinking on the part of Republicans. At the same time, reporters are quoting high level Republicans sources saying that in the next few days top tier Republicans might come out in opposition to Trump. I will totally believe it when I see it.
But I can't help but note what seems obvious.
We've had Judge Curiel, Megyn Kelly, the banning of an entire religion from America's shores, the demand to deport 3% of the US population, the Khan family, protester beatings. Tell me when to stop, okay? There's a lot more. And yet what seems to have been the red line was Trump refusing to endorse Paul Ryan and John McCain in their Republican primaries. Yes, the Khan debacle was big. But little more than a week ago we had Republicans coming out of Cleveland saying that Trump was killing it.
Even if you take a more generous view - an extremely generous view - and say that it wasn't really the non-endorsements, that it was just the flood of everything that's happened since the convention, still there's a problem. Because Trump can say, not without real credibility, that the GOP power structure only turned on him when he refused to endorse them. He has maneuvered them into looking deeply craven, having missed the opportunity to abandon him on their own terms. Of course this isn't that unfair since they are actually craven regardless.
In truth, I don't think it's really the Khans or the endorsements. It's the polls.
Let me just add two things. First, I've linked to a presidential scoreboard that changes all the time, and there's a long way to go until November. As I'm writing this, it shows that Hillary Clinton would win the presidency if she won all of the states that are currently considered "strongly Clinton," "favors Clinton," and "leans Clinton."
That means that Donald Trump would lose the election even if he won all of the current "tossup" states.
Yes, that's a ray of sunshine I desperately need. But it doesn't mean much right now. It's certainly no guarantee! Indeed, a convention typically gives a candidate a bounce in the polls, and the Democratic National Convention just ended. By the time you read this, things could be different.
Still, things are looking good for the Democrats right now (not nearly as good as they should be looking, though - I'm just amazed that the election is close at all). Republican leaders are worried, as they should be.
But second, this is the same political party which deliberately used racism for their own political advantage. The Republican Party's notorious 'Southern strategy' set them to deliberately wooing racists in order to gain more political power. It was just unbelievably cynical, selfish, and flat-out wrong.
This is the same political party whose leaders, during the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression - while America was simultaneously fighting two wars - met and agreed among themselves to do nothing the upcoming president wanted, no matter what it was, as a strategy for winning back the White House four years later.
Again, this was a cynical political move, to deliberately harm America (or refuse to help, at the very least), in order to advance their own political power. Luckily for us, it failed.
And this is the same political party whose leaders in the U.S. Senate were arguably willing to commit treason against their own country, by sabotaging America's side in the negotiations with Iran. They may have rationalized that in their own minds - Republicans are nothing if not faith-based - but they were still willing to harm our country in order to advance their own political power.
So I'd suggest remembering all that when looking at how Republican leaders treat Donald Trump. Most of them had problems with Trump - and for good reasons. But when Trump was winning, they were eager to climb on-board. Sure, Trump made them cringe - mostly because he was too blatant about what Republicans are supposed to suggest more subtly - but what's a little racism if you can win with it?
After all, Republicans have made that decision before - indeed, over and over again since their 'Southern strategy' was begun by Richard Nixon and further developed by Lee Atwater in the Reagan years. Hell, the past eight years, they've gleefully ramped up the hysteria about our first black president. Trump himself was a 'birther.'
If there's any integrity left in the Republican Party, it's clearly in the minority. So Republican leaders were quite willing to climb on the Trump bandwagon as long as he seemed to be winning. But the polls aren't looking good now, and that is all that matters to most of them. That's obvious.
Will Donald Trump drop out of the race? Hmm,... maybe. Clearly, he has a real horror of being considered a 'loser.' He's already trying to run away from debating Hillary Clinton, it seems. Among his other bad qualities, he's a narcissist. He's going to look out for himself, regardless of anything else.
On the other hand, he's also been talking about how the election will be 'rigged.' Thus, he seems to be preparing an excuse. He wouldn't be a loser if the game was rigged, right? So that might be enough for him.
I don't think that Donald Trump himself knows what he will do. He's not a thinker. He just feels and reacts (one of the many reasons why he'd be a danger as President of the United States). It's possible that Republican leaders are floating the possibility that he'll quit without Trump even considering that... unprecedented option.
Either way, this whole thing is completely nuts, isn't it?
PS. If you're not scared enough yet about the possibility of a Trump presidency, check out this story about his interest in using nuclear weapons. "If we have them, why can’t we use them?"
That isn't something we should have to tell anyone, let alone the guy with the launch codes!