GOP In Headlights: This Week In The Trump Campaign

Watching Donald Trump’s campaign unfold is an experience quite like the televised daytime dramas that kept me hooked well into the early 2000s.

I was a big soap opera fan as a kid growing up in the 1980s. Give me a hot super couple romance or a realistically impossible natural disaster and I was all in. Santa Barbara, General Hospital and All My Children – while other youths were catching up on cartoons, I was transfixed by Luke and Laura’s magnificent, on-location wedding.

Watching Donald Trump’s campaign unfold is an experience quite like the televised daytime dramas that kept me hooked well into the early 2000s. Except that there’s no decompression after closing one’s laptop or turning off the TV. There are real consequences besides the sort of anxiety-ridden fugue state that is a burden of all those endeavoring to follow the fire. Party affiliation is inconsequential. If one is a passionate liberal, the prospect of Trumpism in the White House and its associated wrecking ball effect on America as we know it is one kind of panic attack. And for conservatives (whatever that means these days), the specter of electoral annihilation and party irrelevance has many pundits and politicians reaching for the Xanax.

It’s been another fascinating week in Trump World. As our own Justin Baragona wrote earlier today, After Being Replaced And Embroiled In Scandals, Paul Manafort Quits Trump Campaign. The GOP’s answer to Helena Cassadine (is that Roger Ailes now?) achieved very little during his short tenure as campaign leader except supposedly carrying Trump through the delegate process. But was the Donald’s ascension to party nominee ever really in doubt? There was no primary outcome to suggest it.

Anyway, Manafort was on the Russian dole (mystery of pro-Putin planks in the Republican Party platform solved!) and though the Trump campaign’s ability to withstand scandal seems boundless, even the hacks on his staff seemed aware that $12.7 million in payouts was a bit much. As the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin wrote this morning:

“Mr. Manafort[‘s]… news reports were blotting out much of the news coverage of the candidate this week. And they contributed to Mr. Manafort becoming viewed with trepidation by Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and a major force within the campaign, particularly after a number of false starts since the Republican National Convention.”

“False starts” is one way of putting it. Another is to say that Trump’s post-RNC 2016 performance has been an epic disaster straight out of a Lifetime movie (I’ll give you a break from the soap opera metaphors). The crazy bullshit has been going on for so long that a once impossible-seeming Democratic Party dream may become reality. How’s this for a headline? Republicans Running for Congress Struggle With an “Albatross.”

Here’s the fascinating part. Just like the next scene following a Friday afternoon soap opera “cliffhanger” (and I’m back), GOP leadership knew EXACTLY what would happen once they let a petty, racist, misogynist tyrant serve as their 2016 nominee. They just stood there. And a slow motion tragedy is going to restore a Democratic Senate majority. The DNC has barely lifted a finger. I’ve asked before but with the end of August fast approaching, it is too late to Dump Trump? Moreover could the cowards posing as Republican “leadership” find the stones?

Earlier this week Samantha Neal from The Huffington Post wrote Voters From Both Parties Expect Donald Trump to Lose in November. She explained:

“Clinton led by 12 points on the expectations question in mid-July, expanding her lead to 20 points in late July. The most recent YouGov/Economist poll has Clinton up by 25 points on this question, showing a 13-point increase in just two months in people who believe Clinton will win the election. Clinton’s lead extends across party lines.”

Everyone has given up on Trump – except the only people positioned to do something about this crap fest. It’s absolutely mystifying. The RNC Can Legally Dump Trump. There’s a precisely small window of time – not to salvage the election. Oh no my conservative friends, the time for that has passed. But some of you once had integrity. Remember? Wouldn’t it be nice to call yourself the owner of some pride again?

Allowing a madman to hijack the party was the culmination of a mistake metastasizing over decades. This drama is ready to be cancelled. The worst thing the GOP can do at this point is permit Donald the luxury of quitting. He may yet bow out, declare electoral fraud or something else entirely (who the fuck knows what to expect?). Republicans fearing for down ballot races (rightfully so) have two options remaining – oust him or never, ever recover credibility after the biggest campaign farce in history.

Becky Sarwate is the current President of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association, founded in 1885, as well as Recording Secretary for the National Federation of Press Women. She is a national award-winning journalist, blogger, newsletter editor and theater critic. Becky lives in Chicago with her partner Bob and their menagerie of pets. Keep up with her at
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