After a long stretch of being wrong about how far naked and unashamed xenophobia could take someone in the current iteration of the Republican Party, it seems like I’m on much firmer ground in predicting Donald Trump’s path through the general election. I was right in saying that the media have no real interest in promoting Trump’s counter-narratives about Clinton, because watching the first-ever total implosion of a major party candidate in real time is great television. (Notably, his only strong stretch in the polls this entire season was between Conway’s hiring and the first debate, when she kept him relentlessly on-script and took away his opportunities to freelance.)
More germane to the last week or so, I was also right in thinking that once Trump started getting serious media scrutiny, he wouldn’t be able to take the heat. He held off scrutiny on his tax returns, but only because he’s now far too busy defending himself from upwards of a dozen allegations of sexual assault that he essentially confessed to into a hot mike. He’s a hot mess of a disaster of a candidate, and it’s becoming clearer and clearer by the day as his response to virtually every challenge is to flail in an incoherent baby temper tantrum, call his opponents playground slurs, and try to find someone else to blame for his failures.
And that brings me to the third thing I was right about. I have been saying ever since Trump’s first polling meltdown, shortly after the convention, that if Trump got behind in October he would spend the last month of his campaign trying to find someone to pin the blame on rather than trying to win, because Trump is a narcissist as well as a misogynist and the preservation of his ego holds a higher priority for him than anything else. He can’t handle losing, he especially can’t handle losing to a woman, and so if he isn’t going to be President then he knows that it must be somebody’s fault. So I knew that October would be a month of Donald Trump blaming the GOP for his failure, simply because they’re the only possible suspects once you eliminate Hillary (who, as a woman, simply isn’t capable of beating TRUMP!)
I don’t mention this to boast, though. I mention this because I want to make it clear that I really thought I was braced for this. I really did think that I understood what it meant to have a solid month of Donald Trump running smack into the brick wall of his own incompetence and throwing a month-long pity party for himself with the cameras all pointed at him to catch his miserable, mean-spirited, petty spite in all its magnificent glory. I thought I might even enjoy some of it.
OH GOD WAS I WRONG. This is…this is seriously the most chilling, creepy, horrifying and horrible week of politics we’ve ever had in American history. This is Donald Trump being revealed as a serial sexual predator, and finding a posse of sleazy apologists who will go out and say, as a Hail Mary strategy for getting their pal an office that they manifestly have not even considered whether or not he deserves, that the accusations against Trump are all lies, slander and misconstruals of innocent comments from over a decade ago and should be ignored…but that Bill Clinton’s sexual assaults are all the gospel truth from wronged women who have been silenced for over thirty years and disqualify his wife from office.
In other words, they’re out there saying, “We can’t afford to have a sleazy, perverted, gross dirty old man getting into the White House. VOTE TRUMP!”
I anticipated that Trump would go after his own party. I did not anticipate the sheer, pathetic, unmitigated moral cowardice with which the GOP would greet these attacks. I did not expect that after a tape surfaced of the candidate openly boasting about his ability to commit sexual assault and get away with it, followed by a dozen corroborating stories from women in his past, that the response from the Republican Party would be, “Um, yeah, that’s pretty bad, but, um… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯”
And while I expected Trump would descend into paranoid fantasies to preserve his ego, I really didn’t think we’d get a rally where he flat-out said that Hillary Clinton was conspiring with “the international bankers” (I’m actually kind of amazed he avoided saying “Zionist”) to destroy the United States of America by rigging the election with the help of a complicit GOP. I did not think we would get to the point where he literally accused his political opponent of being the Devil. I did not think that Trump would preserve his fantasies of being a political messiah by literally inciting crowds to revolt in the event that he was not elected. I thought I was braced for a crazy October, but the crazy is now coming thicker and faster than I was emotionally prepared for.
And I don’t know when it will stop. At this point, I would be entirely unsurprised if another thirty or forty women come forward before Election Day; Trump has had decades of unrestrained and unpunished privilege in which to assault women, and I’m sure the only question is how many of them are willing to talk about it. And I think that Trump will get more and more unhinged as his accounts finally come due. But I no longer feel like I know what it means for a major-party candidate to be unveiled as a grifter and sexual predator with the whole world watching, less than a month before we elect our first woman to the Oval Office. It’s just too damn motherfucking nuts right now to get a grip on.
I guessed some of this stuff in principle, but…in practice, being right about it doesn’t fucking help.