William Goldman, screenwriter of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “The Princess Bride,” is famous for coining the phrase “Nobody knows anything.” He was talking about Hollywood, but his assessment is far better suited for Washington DC.
This adage doesn’t just apply to the talking heads on cable television who have to fill up a 24-hour news cycle with recycled pseudo-witticisms, stale/obvious observations, and heaps of partisan blather. This principle also applies to the campaigns themselves. Consultants who know no more than you do are paid millions of dollars every election season to flounder about in the dark and make colossal mistakes and watch their candidates go down in flames. Of course, somebody has to win, which means a handful of these people will stumble into doing something right, and they are then hailed as geniuses for getting lucky, until they eventually go on to crash and burn with a loser down the road.
So, that said, allow me to make some predictions that will be as wrong and worthless as anyone else’s. Remember that I know as much as they do, which is nothing.
Keep in mind, too, that I’m of the opinion that America and, indeed, the whole concept of the nation state is on its way out, so I don’t much care who gets the 2016 nod to hold the wheel of the sinking ship. My hardcore cynicism therefore allows me to enjoy the entire Trump spectacle rather than lament about how it is sure to destroy whatever paltry electoral chances the GOP had this time around.
Which brings me to Trump, and the question I asked when he first announced – how does Trump end?
Because when Trump first jumped in, the conventional wisdom/stupidity was that he would flame out pretty quickly, and that he was just this cycle’s version of Herman Cain. But he’s not flaming out – he’s burning brighter, and everyone else is getting scorched. His unfavorables two months ago were in the 60s, which is where his favorables are now. A 60-point shift in two months?! Man, the rules don’t apply to him at all. Imagine if Jeb Bush had made a crack about Megyn Kelly menstruating – he’d be done. (Actually, he is done, although he doesn’t seem to realize it yet.) What would happen if Scott Walker had praised the virtues of single payer healthcare in a Republican presidential debate, as Trump did? We’d still be talking about it, and Walker would be done. (Actually, he is done, although he doesn’t seem to realize it yet.)
The other slice of trite nonsense that’s being fed to everyone is the idea that Trump is simply the logical next level downward in the gloomy Republican Tea Party spiral. But Trump isn’t a Tea Partier, despite ol’ Tea Party Ted cruzing himself all over Trump’s lapels like some kind of demented Donald Mini-Me without the combover. Glenn Beck, one of the Founding Deadbeat Dads of the bastard that is the Tea Party, is apoplectic about Trump during his rare lucid moments between visions from Cthulhu. How many other Tea Partiers brag about bribing Hillary Clinton to come to their third wedding? If Satan’s brother Mike Huckabee had tried that, he’d be done. (Actually, etc. etc. etc.)
No, Trump’s appeal comes from the fact that you can believe in him without really believing in anything. You don’t have to know a lick about policy or ideology – you just have to dig a guy who “tells it like it is,” despite the fact that what he’s telling you is the intellectual equivalent of armpit farts.
Scott Adams, the dude who draws Dilbert, also writes a blog in which he insists that Trump is the most persuasive candidate in the history of the republic, and that he will win the GOP nomination and the general election “by a wide margin.” He says this not as a Trump advocate – Adams is neither Republican nor conservative – but as an admirer of Trump’s considerable people skills. His series of “Trump persuasion posts” are well worth reading, because they’re saying things nobody else is saying, and they’re absolutely correct up to the point where they’re dead wrong.
Which is to say that Adams is right that Trump is going to be the Republican nominee. Because, honestly, who’s going to stop him? Jeb?
My numerous reasonable Republican friends still cling to the illusion that Trump will implode, because, well, he’s Donald Trump, for crap’s sake. But Trump has repeatedly lit the fuse of his own implosion, yet nothing stupid he can say seems to be able to do the trick. For Trump to lose, Republicans can’t rely on him self-destructing. Someone’s going to have to take him out.
Which brings us to the latest Mitt Romney bubble.
There seems to be a percolating sentiment among Trump loathers that the guy to take down The Donald is the old, white Mormon guy who already lost twice. Now, I realize that, on its face, this is stupid. But if you take the time to dig down deeper, you discover that it’s really stupid.
And yet, I can see a scenario where it might work.
If Romney were to get in, it would attract enough attention to spur some kind of snide bile from Trump himself, which would give Romney an opening to hit back. And Romney would have to hit back hard – really go for the jugular. Jeb is running an ad now that nobody is paying any attention to which highlights Trump’s very recent departures from conservatism. Romney could get attention for bringing all that up, and maybe it might sting a little. But it won’t be nearly enough. Romney would have to get personal and dirty, and start calling Trump all the kinds of names that Trump is calling everyone else. Sleazeball. Perv. Blood coming out of his wherever. He would have to get so vicious and nasty that everyone would be shocked into actually seeing Donald Trump for who he really is.
Show of hands, folks – how many of you think Mitt Romney is the best man for that kind of hatchet job? Yeah, me neither.
So Trump doesn’t implode, and nobody can take him out. So he’s the nominee. Then what?
Well, then he loses. And not just loses, but Barry-Goldwater-George-McGovern-Walter-Mondale loses.
Seriously? You think Trump’s reality show hijinks are going to keep Hispanic voters from rising up in droves to vote against the guy who wants to deport 11 million illegal immigrants and their 4 million children who are U.S. citizens? W. got 45% of the Hispanic vote in 2004; Romney got a paltry 27%. What percentage is Trump going to get? My guess is that it will only be measurable with an electron microscope.
As for the other end of the equation, Hillary is going to be the nominee unless this email scandal puts her in jail. Which means she’s going to be president, and Bill will use the Lincoln Bedroom to consummate his contacts from his Ashley Madison account. The Biden thing makes no sense – in the Age of Trump, why would the Democrats turned to a white, elderly Dan Quayle clone who’s been in Washington longer than Ben Affleck has been alive? Literally?
So there you have it. My predictions. And, of course, they will be wrong. That’s what I’m hoping for, anyway. My predictions have been so famously inaccurate that I’m now putting my bad electoral mojo to good use.