Donald Trump, the presidential candidate obsessed with “winning,” is about to be a loser. Unfortunately, he’s a sore loser and coping in ways that are becoming too dangerous to ignore.
The Republican nominee made that clear in a stomach-churning, rambling speech in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Thursday. Using Breitbart-scripted smears and populist grievances, he went the full demagogue, blaming everybody but himself for his campaign’s disintegration.
Democrat Hillary Clinton is now beating him in a number of key swing states, the direct result of fallout from a now-infamous 2005 video in which Trump brags about groping and otherwise forcing himself on women without permission.
Now women are coming out of the woodwork with accusations of sexual assault. As he slides in the polls, even Trump’s staunchest allies have been hedging. Newt Gingrich told Fox Business that “there’s a Big Trump and a Little Trump. The Little Trump is frankly pathetic.”
Never miss a local story.
On Thursday, it was Little Trump who showed up. Clearly miffed, his tone veering from mob boss to tin-pot dictator to petulant schoolboy, Trump whipped up his dwindling ranks of supporters.
“This is a conspiracy against you, the American people, and we cannot let this happen to our society,” he insisted. “This is a moment of reckoning.”
The New York real estate magnate made self-serving claims of corrupt journalists, high-level conspiracies and rigged elections. The reports about him inappropriately touching women were “false smears,” he bellowed, and he was a Christ-like martyr willing to take “slings and arrows” for his supporters and the good of the country.
He assailed FBI Director James Comey for supposedly being in cahoots with the Clinton campaign and refusing to recommend charges over the email scandal.
Then he went after Natasha Stoynoff, a People magazine writer who says Trump forcibly kissed her at his Mar-a-Lago resort in 2005, suggesting she was too ugly to assault.
“Take a look, you take a look,” Trump said. “Look at her, look at her words, you tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”
Trump also blasted The New York Times for publishing accounts from Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks, two women who said Trump touched them without their consent. Indeed, the entirety of the mainstream media was in Trump’s crosshairs.
“They’re a political special interest no different than any lobbyist or financial entity with a total political agenda and the agenda is not for you, it’s for themselves,” he complained, in a widely covered speech aired on most of the TV news networks. “And their agenda is to elect Crooked Hillary Clinton at any cost.”
It was, in short, the scorched-earth response of a weak candidate who knows he is losing – bigly – and is desperately erecting the scaffolding to save face when the inevitable happens. Unfortunately, he has told so many lies at this point that few Americans are likely to believe him.
Although he swears the sexual assault allegations are “pure fiction,” he has, for instance, gone on the record calling women slobs and dogs, and even has talked about the physique of his own daughter on Howard Stern’s show. In a different impassioned speech on Thursday, first lady Michelle Obama denounced him, pointing out that “this is not normal. This is not politics as usual.”
“I can’t believe that I’m saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women,” she said.
Trump promised that his campaign will soon produce evidence showing the claims against him are false. Sure he will – right after he releases his tax returns.
Meanwhile, we can only hope his reckless rhetoric doesn’t undermine confidence in the nation’s political system. Or encourage action as violent and unstable as his words.