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Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Teflon Candidate?

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Years ago, it used to be said that President Ronald Reagan was the "teflon President." It seemed, no matter what happened, no matter what he did or didn't do, rightly or wrongly, for good or bad, nothing stuck to him. The people liked him, regardless, and his ratings stayed positive.

Now, we seem to have a candidate for the presidency in one Donald Trump, who is impervious to negative downturns, to an extent. Things he's said or done that, in the past, if said or done by any other candidate, wouldn't have kept them in the political race.

Presently, we're at a moment when Mr. Trump is recorded as saying horrendous, ugly, sexist, actually exploitative things about a woman and about women, yet there are plenty of people still supporting him. Heck, even Evangelical ministers and leaders have announced in the last 24 hours, since this news story broke, that they're still behind him.

Newsman Dan Rather, today on Facebook, said it well, I think.

What does it take to knock Donald Trump out? You would think that the latest obscene, vile, repulsive audio leak would be an electoral haymaker that has him on the canvas for good. In any other election, with any other candidate, this might well have been the equivalent of a spontaneous combustion. And it might be for Donald Trump, but I have thought that many times before.

Calling Mexicans rapists and murderers? Trump went there and it set him on the path to the GOP nomination. Running over John McCain's war record? Barely a speed bump for the Trump campaign bus. Mocking the disabled? Check that off the list and Trump bounces back. Disrespecting the parents of a fallen American soldier? It seems like in the end it was merely a flesh wound for the Donald. And there were so many more instances that likely would have proven fatal to any other candidate in any other election.

Clearly Trump has a floor of support that would condone almost anything. But perhaps this is different and we will see a chipping away at his numbers. Perhaps we will see more of a free fall, although I doubt it. And yet it is also clear that his floor is not enough for Trump to capture the White House. I can't see this adding any voters to his totals, except maybe the villains of the movies from the 1980s.

If you want to see how this plays out, listen to Republicans running for election this fall. Every one of them is going to be asked this weekend to defend Trump's comments. What will they do? Will the knives come out for the party's nominee from his fellow Republicans? Will they begin to run from him, rather than with him? Will this final wave finally sink the Trump campaign?

I must add that while the severity of the latest audio is particularly disgusting, any elected official who expresses surprise must surely be feigning it. Look at Trump's Twitter feed. Listen to his statements from the past. Did you really think this kind of language was beyond him?

This election is not only about the presidency, but about who will lead in Congress and the state houses. How toxic does Trump become? Can he bounce back yet again, even if the polls seem to be moving against him? Will this doom the GOP in 2016, or even beyond? Will it realign our political system?

So many questions, but we will get answers. And we will be the ones who will give them when we go to the polls. There are few times in my career when I have been more at a loss for what I could expect for the future of my country.

Regardless, at this point, as I wrote and posted yesterday, there is no possible way Mr. Trump is winning this thing. It's just stunning he's still considered a viable candidate.

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