In the last twenty-four hours, Donald Trump has accused U.S. soldiers in Iraq of stealing money intended for Iraqis and doubled down on his innuendo that Barack Obama somehow personally supports ISIS.
He has also tweeted his support for the proposal (backed by Barack Obama) to take away the right to buy a gun for those on government watch lists. For those trying to figure out what this means: it means he has caved on gun control. So much for the argument that he’s better than Hillary on Constitutional issues that go before the Supreme Court.
Poll numbers released this morning indicate that 70 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump, and that he is underwater among whites without a college degree—those voters he’s meant to be bringing back into the political process.
At the moment he should be unifying his party and reaching out to independents for the general, he is tanking. At the moment he should be enjoying a natural advantage because of the Democratic Party’s poor handling of terrorism, he is squandering his chance. So much for the argument that the nation would rally to him if terrorist attacks occurred on U.S. soil.
The summer is when candidates are defined by their opponents and the media. Donald Trump is being defined in the most negative terms of the modern era of presidential elections. At this rate he is going to lose the general election very, very badly.
What case is there to support Trump? There is none based on principle. There is hardly one based on the calculation that Clinton is worse, because nominating Trump practically ensures she will win. The senior party figures who back him must think he will lose, and that they are merely trying to prevent his followers from leaving the GOP.
But isn't Trump himself proof that the rift has already opened? The notion that Trump is going to go away after November, and that his voters are just going to wander contritely back into the fold, is fanciful. Supporting Trump only delays the reckoning, and tars the GOP for a generation as the party of a chiseling narcissist and conspiracy theorist with a soft-spot for white identity politics.
This is only going to get worse. He is not going to change. And the worst part is, the Republican officials who have endorsed him don't seem eager to change, either.