“What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time,” said reality show star-turned-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump last night in answer to the moderator’s repeated question about his willingness to concede defeat in November. “I’ll keep you in suspense. OK?”
While that moment has been hailed as the disqualifying foul even on Fox News, dominating discussion today, there was another telling moment immediately afterwards as Donald confirmed what Democrat Hillary Clinton was right in the middle of saying about his history of being a sore loser. Transcript via the Washington Post:
CLINTON: Well, Chris, let me respond to that, because that’s horrifying. You know, every time Donald thinks things are not going in his direction, he claims whatever it is, is rigged against him.
The FBI conducted a year-long investigation into my e-mails. They concluded there was no case; he said the FBI was rigged. He lost the Iowa caucus. He lost the Wisconsin primary. He said the Republican primary was rigged against him. Then Trump University gets sued for fraud and racketeering; he claims the court system and the federal judge is rigged against him.There was even a time when he didn’t get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged against him.
TRUMP: Should have gotten it.
Perhaps recognizing the literal fulfillment of Alec Baldwin’s Saturday Night Live caricature of Donald’s lack of self-awareness, the audience laughed. Guffawed, actually. Donald doesn’t like it when people laugh that way at him, and hearing the reaction evidently put him off his game.
We know this because a moment later, when host Chris Wallace moved on to a question about Mosul, Donald spoke in “stream-of-consciousness blather,” as Zach Beauchamp writes, “a nearly indecipherable string of nonsense that jumps from a brief discussion of Aleppo to Russia to ISIS to the refugee crisis.”
Reduced to incoherence, Donald crumbled before our eyes, but kept right on blithering away. By then, Clinton had systematically turned all his own favorite verbal tactics against him.
Major commentators seem to understand now that the objective of the Donald Trump campaign is no longer to win by turning out voters. Instead, in its final three weeks, the campaign seems to be focusing attention and resources on vote suppression. By making the race as nasty, as triggering, as stupefying, and intimidating as possible in these last days, Donald hopes that a disgusted America will simply turn away altogether and give him a closer finish.
And have no doubt that Trump TV, which soft-launched on Facebook this week, will make a great deal of noise about every contrived or alleged irregularity in November — or that Breitbart News will echo those charges ad nauseum to deny the Clinton presidency any legitimacy.
There is no “suspense” about what will happen next. Hillary Clinton’s advantage in polling averages has climbed with each debate and will likely stand at double digits next week. Talk of a landslide puts both the Senate and House in play. “The panic is beginning,” Steve Schmidt said yesterday, sounding even more ominous after the debate. Hoping to salvage their majorities, Reince Priebus said last night that the Republican National Committee would accept the election results, promising a further split within the Grand Old Party after the election.
Which is just fine with Steve Bannon, the Breitbart CEO now running the Trump campaign. He wants a more radical right party that will not simply oppose Clinton, but actively impeach and imprison her, damn the constitutional consequences. One faction of the party will follow Bannon towards the electoral cliffs; the other, smaller Republican caucus will try to find middle ground, the most dangerous place to be in a highly-polarized environment.
Donald Trump will now star in his new role as The Sorest Loser. “I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now. I’ll look at it at the time,” he said testily of his pending electoral defeat. Making best use of his boorish demeanor and brutish talents, the format calls for him to dance on the edge of concession without ever quite admitting he has been beat.
You think he’s whiny now? Just wait: Donald is going to spend the next four years tearing down the Clinton administration as a kind of insult-comic shadow president for profit. “Wait until you see what happens in the coming years,” he said last night in what seemed like an admission of defeat. “Lots of luck, Hillary. Thanks a lot for doing a great job.”
He’ll be back. No matter what the final result is, Donald Trump is not going away.
Featured image via Flickr.
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