Lest we forget

Trump’s awful last week regarding Miss Universe has been rapidly taken over by his awful this week on taxes.  But, let’s not forget just how awful Trump was before the taxes.  This piece from Ezra absolutely nails it:

he past six days proved Donald Trump is dangerously unfit for the presidency.

The problem isn’t that Trump is cruel, though he is. The problem isn’t that Trump is boorish, though he is. The problem isn’t that Trump is undisciplined, though he is.

The problem is that Trump is predictable and controllable.

Through most of this election, those would be the last two words anyone would associate with Donald J. Trump. His brand is impulsivity. The central fact of his political style is that staff can’t control his actions. Who else would launch a presidential campaign by calling Mexicans rapists and murderers? Who else would accuse an opponent’s father of being involved in JFK’s assassination? Who else would humiliate their running mate before introducing him? Who else would tweet schoolyard insults at his challengers and retweet white supremacists praising his virtues?

 Over the past six days, Hillary Clinton’s campaign revealed that this is a misreading of Donald Trump. His behavior, though unusual, is quite predictable — a fact the Clinton campaign proved by predicting it. His actions, though beyond the control of his allies, can be controlled by his enemies — a fact the Clinton campaign proved by controlling them.

So far, this has played out, within the safe space of a presidential campaign, as farce. If Trump were to win the White House, it would play out as tragedy…

“Check out sex tape and past,” tweeted the man who wants to be the next president of the United States of America at 5:30 am.

We’re now six days beyond the debate. And Trump is still finding new ways to spring and re-spring Clinton’s trap on himself. On Friday, he told the New York Times that, in response to the Clinton campaign bringing up Machado, he would begin attacking Hillary Clinton for being “married to the single greatest abuser of women in the history of politics” — thus launching the line of assault likeliest to engender sympathy for Hillary Clinton, and opening his checkered marital history to public scrutiny.

“She’s nasty, but I can be nastier than she ever can be,” is a thing Trump actually said, aloud, to reporters, in an interview meant to help his campaign…

What is extraordinary in all this is how enthusiastically Trump has taken the Clinton campaign’s bait, and how unconcerned he’s been with the fact that they meticulously planned all this in advance to damage him. It is almost not fair to call what the Clinton campaign created a trap. They publicly, explicitly, and warmly invited him to participate in their campaign strategy, and he accepted their invitation, because the satisfaction he receives from settling old scores and venting his rage is greater than the satisfaction he receives from leading in national opinion polls.

In the context of a presidential campaign, all this is amusing. It will make a wonderful chapter in the next edition of Game Change. But imagine that this wasn’t a presidential campaign. Imagine it was the Trump presidency. And imagine it wasn’t Hillary Clinton trying to bait Trump into attacking Alicia Machado, but ISIS trying to bait Trump into attacking Iraq, or Vladimir Putin trying to bait Trump into breaking with NATO, or Angela Merkel trying to bait Trump into isolating the United States before a key vote at the United Nations, or China trying to bait Trump into giving them an excuse to assert their claim over Taiwan…

Trump didn’t listen, or perhaps he didn’t care. He sprung the trap anyway. He is more passionate about proving his dominance and humiliating his perceived foes than about following his strategy. As unpredictable and uncontrollable as he is to his allies, he is exactly that predictable and controllable to his enemies, and to America’s enemies. [emphasis mine]

Image result for bait

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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