Gaffes or Negotiating Tactics?

Bloggified by Jake on Wednesday, August 3, 2016

George W. Bush's 2000 campaign would have come to a screeching halt if he'd dismissed opponent John McCain's war record and suggested the American people would be better off with a guy who "didn't get captured."

Barack Obama's 2008 candidacy never would have gotten off the ground if video from an old national TV interview existed where he speculated on how nice and big newborn Malia's breasts would be when she grew up.

Walter Mondale might not have even gotten 13 electoral votes in 1984 if he'd followed up his famous "Where's the beef?" debate line by pointing at his crotch and telling Gary Hart, "It's in my pants. Lotta meat in there if you know what I mean. I guarantee it."

But what would have been called "gaffes" in any election prior to Donald Trump using his presidential campaign launch announcement to declare Mexicans who come to the United States are rapists and criminals who bring drugs are now so commonplace they fail to stand out. It's become impossible to make up satire about Trump. If you saw any of the following quotes attributed to Trump in the coming week, none would immediately jump out as bullshit:

"Yeah, but we're talking about Russia here, George. This is the real world, not some made up place like Westeros or Morocco or Oz."

"What a beautiful crowd. I get the best crowds. Crooked Hillary, you go to see her speak and people are a mess. They're terrible. Ugly, terrible people. The worst. It's sad."

"We're sending our Olympic athletes to Brazil. Brazil! The Olympics have always been America's game but Obama is too weak. It's sad. You need someone strong who's going to tell the Olympics they're staying where they belong. In America!"

"The Chinese are killing us on trade. The Chinese know they're not going to come into a Trump White House and say,
(pushes corners of eyes upward and sticks out buck teeth) 'Bing bong ching chong, we gonna take-a all you job and you buy from us. Pay beeeeg money.' I've dealt with the Chinese before."

But the past 72 hours have seen an increased amount of outrageousness from the Republican nominee, even by post-Trump era standards. Most notably, he's attacked the parents of a Muslim American who died protecting his fellow soldiers, claiming he's read the Constitution and that they have no right to criticize him publicly. But beyond that, he's refused to endorse McCain or House Speaker Paul Ryan in their upcoming elections, alleged a conspiracy by fire marshals to limit the size of his rallies, suggested women who get sexually harassed are weak for not quitting and getting new jobs, mocked the mother of a crying baby, ate KFC with a metal silverware on his private jet, spouted Putin propaganda about Crimea, and very likely leaked naked photos of his wife to The New York Post.

It's led to speculation on the parts of many people that Trump may be actively trying to lose the election. Conspiracy theorists have floated the idea that Bill and Hillary Clinton are secretly behind Trump's candidacy. Others think he got into the race to help promote what would have been the upcoming season of "The Apprentice," things got out of hand and now he's trying to get out of a four-year commitment to having to learn policies and being diplomatic. Stories that he offered John Kasich the vice presidential nomination with the promise that the Ohio Governor would make all foreign and domestic policy decisions while Trump "made America great again" lends some credence to that idea.

Trump's real motivation may be found in something he tweeted after Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton at last week's Democratic National Convention:

The key words: "nothing to show for it!"

In June, shortly after Trump clinched the Republican nomination, two former campaign advisers speculated that Trump might be willing to surrender the nomination for $150 million. Trump shot down the idea, but billionaire Mark Cuban chimed in that was likely less about ethics and more due to the price being too low.

Trump holds something that many may consider precious and priceless. He may very well control the very existence of the Republican Party. But it's meaningless to him. Unlike any of the other 16 candidates he bested in the primaries, Trump has no more loyalty to the GOP than he has to a business he might buy out in a hostile takeover. Trump is a stranger holding a ceramic urn of your grandmother's ashes on the edge of the Grand Canyon. He can drop it and walk away without a twinge of loss, but he knows you'd be devastated. So he begins tossing it from one hand to the other...

I made a prediction a few days ago that by the end of August, Trump will resign his nomination due to business or health reasons, and Paul Ryan would "reluctantly" accept his party's nomination the way he did when he "didn't" want to be Speaker of the House. Reports this morning indicate RNC Chair Reince Priebus and other party leaders are calling for a meeting with Trump to discuss his behavior and how it damages the party. Further reports are indicating the party is exploring its options for replacing Trump on the ballot.

Trump will accept a buyout large enough that he might actually be able to finally call himself a billionaire and mean it. His refusal to endorse Ryan and McCain along with the fact neither was a primary candidate sets the stage for the two of them to form a ticket that symbolizes a complete reversal from the ugliness of the 2016 campaign. And they will crush Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.

The Democrats are narrowly leading the presidential race right now against a ticket of comic book villains and are opting to reach out to disenfranchised Republicans rather than to the 46% of primary voters who supported Bernie Sanders to shore up their lead. A Ryan/McCain ticket will sell its party members a message of unity (which the Democrats failed to do), and while a portion of Trump voters will refuse to be swayed, the majority will be revealed as either GOP loyalists happy to be back on familiar ground or ardent "not Hillary" voters who don't care what name is on the ballot as long as it isn't "Clinton."

Ryan and McCain will offer the same terrible policies and stances the GOP has offered for decades. But in comparison to the bile spewed by Trump for the past year, it will sound reasonable and comforting.

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