Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had a baby thrown out of his rally in Virginia Tuesday night. No, really, he did. “Don’t worry,” he said, “the mom’s running around, don’t worry about it. It’s young and beautiful and healthy, that’s what we want. Actually, I was only kidding. You can get the baby out of here. I think she really believed me that I love having a baby crying while I’m speaking.”
You’re supposed to kiss the babies, jackass, not have them bodily removed. That was, by far and away, the least weird thing to happen on Planet Trump in the last 140 hours.
Khizr and Ghazala Khan’s tectonic appearance at last week’s Democratic National Convention transmuted Trump into a national punchline, again, for many prospective voters. He picked a fight with a Gold Star family and they ate his lunch on national television. The simple fact of the Khan family and the fallen soldier son they honor daggers home the lesson: Mess not with the righteous, lest you be shredded like cheese in the medium you thought you commanded.
This is especially true for someone who needs a platoon of servants to tie his shoes in the morning. In the immortal words of Foghorn Leghorn, Donald Trump is about as sharp as a sack of wet mice, and the Khans exposed that fact with a calm grace that was lethal in its efficiency.
Like an inebriated bowling ball, Trump and his surrogates rumbled on over the next several hours and days. “Trump then suggested that Khizr Khan doesn’t have a right to say Trump has not read the Constitution,” writes Olivia Nuzzi of The Daily Beast, “which is a rather convincing piece of evidence in favor of Khan’s argument.” Trump adviser Roger Stone coughed up a hairball about Khan being affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Then it was Russia is not intervening in Ukraine, which they have been since 2014. Fire Marshals are bad people who support Hillary Clinton. Clinton, by the way, is solely responsible for Pennsylvania’s manufacturing decline somehow, and also “She’s the devil.” It went on and on.
And then it got good.
Remember that line they used to put on checks and other important documents back in the day? “Do not fold, spindle or mutilate.” Well, Donald Trump on Tuesday folded, spindled and mutilated his relationship with the party that nominated him by throwing hot public shade at Paul Ryan, John McCain and Kelly Ayotte. “Donald Trump is refusing to back House Speaker Paul D. Ryan in his upcoming primary election,” reported the Washington Post, “saying in an interview Tuesday that he is ‘not quite there yet’ in endorsing his party’s top-ranking elected official. Trump also said he was not supporting Sen. John McCain in his primary in Arizona, and he singled out Sen. Kelly Ayotte as a weak and disloyal leader in New Hampshire.”
Yeah, wait, what? These aren’t back-benchers. We’re talking about the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, The Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a Republican senator from New Hampshire who is locked in a nip-and-tuck race with Gov. Maggie Hassan. The GOP desperately needs Ayotte to win in order to maintain majority control. Trump even went so far as to praise Ryan’s opponent, Paul Nehlen. Why? All three scolded him over the Khan debacle.
That is simple political suicide, a backflip dive off the roof of party headquarters. It has not gone unnoticed by Trump campaign staffers. John Harwood, chief Washington Correspondent for CNBC and a contributor for The New York Times, tweeted, “Longtime ally of Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager: ‘Manafort not challenging Trump anymore. Mailing it in. Staff suicidal.'” NBC News reporter Ali Vitali, reacting to the Harwood statement, said, “A Trump campaign source, in reax to this, tells me ‘it’s all true’ and ‘way worse than people realize.'”
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “cognitive dissonance” as a “psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously.” Loyal Republicans seek his ascendancy even as he tears their party to shreds before their very eyes. “Freedom loving” Republicans with AR-15s strapped to their backs have hitched their wagons to an unbalanced authoritarian strongman who will crush their freedoms if he wins because it’ll be great folks, trust me. Alleged “sensible” Republicans have signed on with a man who asked his senior foreign policy adviser three separate times why we can’t use nuclear weapons; we have them, why not use them?
Clinton is now surging in the polls; FiveThirtyEight has her chance of winning at 68 percent. Don’t get me wrong, Trump may still win, and this danger is chillingly ever-present. However, if he loses, we may all someday be grateful for Donald Trump and his Howling Id Tour of 2016. It’s good to know how low you can go, so you never go there again. A large number of Republican voters and GOP office-holders sat this morning at the breakfast table ignoring the newspaper in front of them with a cup of cold coffee clutched in a trembling hand. What have I done, they asked themselves. The answer is plain: They stared into the abyss, and the abyss stared back.
Let’s not do this again, yeah?