THAT UNPREDICTABLE EVENT THAT SINKS A CANDIDATE

One of the things I’ve come to expect in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary is the surprise incident that erupts with unanticipated force to derail a candidate’s aspirations or propel him to the nomination. It’s something that happens in the day-to-day test of face-to-face encounters. Sometimes it’s a comment that’s overheard or maybe even recorded. You can never predict where or when something that sticks might pop up. This year, alas, Donald Trump pretty much evaded the face-to-face vetting the process presents, choosing instead to fly over it with nothing but slickly packaged large-scale performances. When he did meet “regular folks,” rather than the screened supporters, incidents followed that were troubling, but nothing seemed to stick – look back, though, and the evidence is there. He can’t take criticism, especially from women, as a confrontation at St. Anselm College demonstrated.

Instead, what everybody seemed to overlook as the campaign rolled on is that Trump’s hard-core believers don’t care about facts. Contrary to the slogan, their real motto is Screw Everyone! And you wonder why they seem deaf and blind to reality? Consider a recent survey that found 70 percent of Republicans think Russia is America’s “friend” – an ally or friendly nation. How do you fight that?

Well, you can fire up outrage in selected camps. Forget Trump’s core – nothing will faze them. It’s the independents who need to be swayed.

Think of courageous Khizr Khan and his wife, Ghazala, the Gold Star parents who took the spotlight in late July and defended immigrants, the military, the Constitution, and religious faith against Trump’s bombast. Trump’s attempts to weasel out of their blast clearly revealed how petty, ill-informed, and cruel-hearted he is. Still, that was a while back in the news cycle.

The newly released videotapes, however, essentially confessing his sexual attacks on married women, followed by revelations of his creeper actions around underage teens, hit as the kind of campaign-killing event that should have happened back in the primaries. There’s no hint of mutual consent here, folks. No respect for anyone or anything. He can’t deny he said what’s on tape, and no evidence he’s changed the least in the years since it was made. If anything, there’s a lot more on tap. And this, finally, has struck a public nerve.

And his response? Wild allegations of a “rigged” election! You’ve got to be kidding! Coming from someone who has failed to build anything resembling a national campaign structure, who has failed to prepare for the debates, who has failed to work with the party leaders with the know-how and grassroots connections, he’s blaming everyone but himself for the survey results we’re seeing. As Salon headlined a response: “It’s the Republicans Who Rig Elections, Donald: The GOP Suppression of Black Voters Goes Way Back.” And that’s without getting into the Florida chads of George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign or the Ohio voting machines that lacked verification of results that ran counter to exit survey results in 2004 – both incidents tilting the election to Bush – and we Democrats have every reason to worry about “rigging.” Just where is Karl Rove these days, anyway?

And that’s even before we get into possible interference for Trump’s so-called “poll watchers.” Or should we say the Creeper’s poll watchers?

~*~

All this, of course, came before Trump’s unprecedented boast in last night’s debate that he won’t accept the election results — unless he wins, according to a point he amplified today. Even conservatives are seeing that as the nail in Trump’s coffin.

If this were locker room talk, with his whining, “You cheated! You cheated!,” everyone would be labeling him a sore loser. As I recall, nobody willingly plays again with a sore loser. You’re ostracized from the circle. No, you play by the rules instead. Or else.

Of course, this scene gets compounded when the sore loser has never learned the rules of the game in the first place, never trained, never practiced, never worked up through the ranks, and done nothing but loud trash talk — yet still expects the championship trophy.

There’s another locker room term for that kind of person: rich spoiled brat.

Well, it ain’t over yet. Or is it?

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