The parable of the scorpion and the old woman would be relevant if, instead of being a scorpion, she had picked up an overgrown infant.
So, here’s a question for history buffs and people who like strange, arcane, Presidential lore: did you know that at one debate a candidate for a major party rehashed a feud with actress/entertainer Rosie O’Donnell, in what he described as a “celebrity thing”, and concluded that she deserved to be called a fat pig? Isn’t that amazing? Politics used to be so weird, right?
It’s been a little less than 36 hours since Donald Trump turned in the worst debate performance in the history of the Republic. Sure, Ben Carson never knew what he was talking about, and Dan Quayle had some bad moments, and Gerald Ford once said something incorrect about the Eastern Bloc, but nothing was up to this level. It was incoherent, and didn’t offer a single instance of knowledge, depth, or the ability to think through a question. It was clear from the beginning that Trump went into this like he goes into everything: sure that he was the smartest guy in the room and could just wing it.
And that would have been fine if he knew anything. Anything at all! But he clearly did not. The only two times he was sure-footed was when talking about Rosie and about praising his hotel. Maybe when he talked about how being leveraged for $650 million was pretty good considering how rich he was. The rest was conspiratorial and factless blather.
This is not surprising. He has never bothered to learn even the basics of policy, or anything other than skimming the headlines. He couldn’t tell you a single thing about the Iran deal other than they had some of their frozen assets unfrozen. He couldn’t tell you which agencies vet refugees, how monetary policy works, the history of our relationship with any other country, urban-rural relations, water rights, anything. He’s never known a single thing that didn’t impact him materially.
And that’s not even getting into the basics of his personality. He clearly walked in thinking he was going to be calm, and yet he jumped at the bait the first time Hillary offered. You could see in real time that I thought Hillary provoked him way too early, that she should have waited until he started to flag. I was very wrong. He jumped, and it was all downhill from there.
Since the debate he’s gone back to being, well, Trump. He’s been railing about his mic being bad, which I don’t know, it seemed like the yahoos in the crowd could hear just fine (and it wasn’t the mics that made him sound like a giant horse’s ass when he leaned in to bloat out “Wrong”). He’s complained about Lester Holt. He’s talked about how he’s going to go after Clinton’s infidelities, urged on by Rudy Guiliani, who have six marriages between them. And most amazingly (least amazingly, actually) he decided to go on Fox to defend himself for calling one of his Miss Universe winners “Miss Piggy”.
“She was the worst we ever had. The worst. The absolute worst. She was impossible,” Trump said. “… She was the winner, and she gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem. We had a real problem.”
Trump continued: “Hillary went back into the years and she found this girl — this was many years ago — and found the girl and talked about her like she was Mother Teresa. And it wasn’t quite that way. But that’s okay. Hillary has to do what she has to do.”
This is not a serious person. Any candidate, any normal adult, would have said “I regret what I said, it was a long time ago, heat of the moment, and I was wrong.” But this is someone who is incapable of the single moment of reflection that separates functioning grownups from sociopathic children. This is an incredible buffoon, and always has been, and anyone who thinks differently is lying to themselves. That’s why his new debate strategy–practice–is just as hollow.
Sure, maybe he’ll stay on topic. Maybe he’ll even have a couple more fact-sounding things crammed into that rotting pumpkin of a head. But any GOP leader who says “well, he had an off night, but he’ll be more prepared next time” is a cynical and craven fifth-columnist who should be run out on a rail. You can’t suddenly be knowledgeable about things in a week, not when you should have been at least trying for the last 16 months, and not after a lifetime of self-centered ignorance. He might be more prepared for the next debate, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still spectacularly ill-prepared and wholly unsuited to be the President.
So it’s good to be reminded that even with a tiny bit of polish he’s still Trump, a loathsome know-nothing egoist who can never help but pick at the slightest grudge. A month of pretending otherwise doesn’t make a difference.
(This is great, too, because not only might it spare us President Trump, but it will spare us the inevitable fawning Halperin/Heilman book about Kellyanne Conway, probably titled The Professional: How The Trump Campaign Shocked The World. “We’re going to let Trump be Trump, because that’s our single-greatest asset,” she said in a private meeting according to someone who apparently just remembers things like a real champ, “but we’ll also run this like a real team. A team of professionals.”)
Anyway, on this lines, the Times gave us the single best quote of the election, in a story about how his debate performance mostly turned off the suburban women he apparently needs to win over.
Barb Haag of West Chester, a retired teacher of the emotionally disturbed, said Mr. Trump’s interruptions did not bother her. “Kids interrupt you all the time if they have a point to make,” she said.
Really, that’s the entire point.