What Now for Trump?

I’ve finally stopped smacking my head against my desk, and it does feel good to end the pounding. But the Trump Train Wreck is still happening. A few thoughts:

I got a lot of Twitter traffic today (@stevenfhayward if you don’t already follow)—maybe the most ever—for recounting Ronald Reagan’s reaction to the news of Gary Hart’s sexual peccadillos in 1987: “Boys will be boys—but boys will not be president.” While Hart was doomed, five years later we got more than a randy boy in the White House: we got full on sexual predator Bill Clinton, whose enabler wife is now on the ballot. A lot of respondents noted this fact, as though it should mean Trump should be held to the same standard, if not thought of more favorably, since Trump merely talked about grabbing women’s genitals while Bill Clinton actually did it.

But if conservatives stand for anything, it is to hold their own to a higher standard than liberals. It is a huge concession to what Pat Moynihan called “defining deviancy down” if we appeal to the Bill Clinton standard and the tendentious arguments liberals used in the 1990s to excuse his despicable behavior.

Beyond this, I’m wondering whether I can watch the debate this evening, or more to the point, let my kids watch it. The Clintons richly deserve to have their mendacity exploded in front of a huge audience. On the other hand, I can think of some rather effective Hillary retorts, and I imagine she’s got several in the can. Trump has already proven that he’s not very facile in a head-to-head debate with Hillary. Moreover, I’ve seen some press reports that there are polling and focus group results suggesting that a majority of Americans really don’t want to have Bill Clinton’s bad behavior from 20 years ago brought up. It’s not right; it’s not fair. But it is the world we live in.

I’m thinking the Clinton campaign is behind the release of this recording, and have run every angle on how it plays out. Everything seems in suspended animation right now. The next 24 to 48 hours may be the most extraordinary of any presidential campaign in our history.