Whenever I write anything critical of Trump, I elicit the criticism that I just don’t get it. I should probably have included the admission that I don’t get it in my confession. The omission was an oversight. I will seek to remedy the oversight here and in occasional posts under this heading.
In his excellent column “Present at the destruction,” Rich Lowry catches Trump in the act of being Trump this week on CNN’s town hall forum with the GOP candidates:
Not only did Trump say that the pledge [he had taken to support the GOP presidential nominee] is null and void as far as he’s concerned, he also went further and told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he doesn’t want the support of Ted Cruz.
Here is a front-runner for a major party’s nomination doing all he can to repel his nearest competitor, who has won 5,732,220 votes so far, or 29 percent of the total (Trump has won 39 percent), and speaks for a significant, and highly engaged, faction of the party. Is there any precedent for such a willfully and pointlessly destructive act in modern American politics?
Every rational calculation says that Trump should seek to preserve the pledge. At this point, he is more likely than anyone else to be the nominee and benefit from the support of his competitors. He should want to use every possible lever of unity at his disposal given the threats of an independent conservative candidacy should he win the nomination. And yet, he’s done the opposite.
I don’t get it either, but at least I’m in good company with Rich.
One other thing I don’t get is the Trump triumphalism in the face of a rather obvious impending electoral disaster. The greatness of Donald Trump touted by his many supporters includes his supposed strength as a general election candidate. I don’t get it. My guess is that they will tout the destruction he will wreak as a feature, not a bug. Or that they will blame others among the incognescenti like us for being insufficiently supportive.
Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball newsletter today features a significant revision to the newsletter analysts’ Electoral College ratings based on a potential Clinton-Trump matchup. I think this is a rather understated preview of coming attractions:
Election analysts prefer close elections, but there was nothing we could do to make this one close. Clinton’s total is 347 electoral votes, which includes 190 safe, 57 likely, and 100 that lean in her direction. Trump has a total of 191 (142 safe, 48 likely, and 1 leans). Over the years we’ve put much emphasis on the seven super-swing states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia. While some will fall to the Democrats less readily than others, it is difficult to see any that Trump is likely to grab. In fact, four normally Republican states (Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri) would be somewhat less secure for the GOP than usual. North Carolina, which normally leans slightly to the GOP, would also be well within Clinton’s grasp in this election after being Mitt Romney’s closest win in 2012.
I know, I know. They said the same about Reagan in 1980. I don’t get the comparison to Reagan.
Another thing I don’t get is Trump’s recurring reference to polls showing his strength as a general election candidate against Clinton. Other than its consistency with his usual level of veracity, it’s somewhat difficult to understand what he’s talking about.