Trump hits a bump

Can Donald Trump’s whimpering Republican rivals finally seize their moment?

Donald Trump On His Faltering Campaign
Old Wack Donald Trump ups the volume, lowers the tone Image Picture Scott Olson/Getty Images

Has Donald Trump finally, even in his own parallel dimension, jumped the shark?

Has he gone from cartoon offensive stirrer to deranged pusher of self-destruct button? 

When the belligerent, bewigged buffoon this week urged a “total and complete” shutdown on Muslims entering the United States, even Republican candidate Jeb Bush labelled him “unhinged”.

Senator John McCain, not known for his liberal views, grumbled: “It’s just foolishness”. The Pentagon pointed out that Trump was “bolstering” Isis’ narrative.

Even Dick Cheney came out with: “I think this whole notion that somehow we can just say ‘No more Muslims’, just ban a whole religion, goes against everything we stand for and believe in.”

What meta-level of hysterical irony have we reached when chairman-of-the-waterboard Dick Cheney is defending the rights of Muslims on American soil? Or when Boris Johnson is retaliating haughtily to Trump’s digs at “radicalised” London? Careful Boris, you might – in our worst, cold-sweat nightmares – have to maintain a special relationship with him soon…

 

“What meta-level of hysterical irony have we reached when Dick Cheney is defending the rights of Muslims in America?”

 

 

Trump has denied being a bigot. Talking to Diane Sawyer on ABC last night, he said, “Somebody in this country has to say what’s right.”

When it was suggested to him that many, even in his own party, think his words are putting everyone in greater danger, he growled like someone who’s seen too many performances by Arnold Schwarzenegger, his replacement host on The Apprentice USA.

“I’m the worst thing that’s ever happened to ISIS,” Trump barked. “People in my party understand that. They’re running against me and for the most part they have no poll numbers. I’m leading by a lot, they’re just trying to get publicity for themselves.”

Frankly, if they really are running against him, it’s about time they got some publicity for themselves. Trump has been leading by a lot for a long time. Now, we hear Bush and others creeping out of the woodwork and finally summoning the cojones to call him out.

Why has it taken until now to speak out? It’s not a matter of how crazy it is that his Republican rivals are calling him a basket case. It’s a matter of how crazy it is that they weren’t doing it months ago.

Democrats didn’t want to criticise Trump beyond generic mockery. That’s understandable politics. They’d love him to be the Republican nominee: what a sitting target.

The media, too, were delighted to have such a clown bossing the circus: great for ratings, clicks and sales. They want him in the race as long as possible, like a reality TV show contestant you love to hate. Won’t win; will be the one who’s remembered. Won’t go lacking for panto bookings.

Donald Trump Wigs Out
Image Picture Scott Olson/Getty Images

But why have the Republican candidates who, in theory, want to beat him, stayed so quiet? Conservative extremists have been vocally supporting him because in the echo-chamber circle-jerk world of Fox News they’re the only voices.

But where have the comparatively rational Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina been? Don’t they want even a morsel of the vast Latino vote? Do they even realise that to win you have to have people outside your immediate fan club voting for you?

Essentially, Trump’s competitors have cowered, waiting. After the shift his Route One politics initiated, if they contradicted him, they looked like liberals.

Trump funded himself, answered to no-one, brooked no compromise. If they responded, they had to go through their committee of financial backers first. Now though, he may have lost the dressing room. The aura rattled, he may be revealed to be just Alan Sugar with Bruce Forsyth’s hair. 

“We have to be tough, smart and vigilant”, says Trump, pandering to fear, to hate. “We don’t know what’s happening because we have a President that doesn’t have a clue.” Trump hopes and believes a “silent majority” will see him through. Yet the silent weak may now be finding their mousy squeak.

The scared worms are turning, tentatively. Like the little timid kids noticing that the bully’s power over the schoolyard is waning, that one of his legs is going, they peep out of their hidey-holes wondering if they dare to gang up and give him a push.

Could they topple him in a rudderless coup? This might just be the lunatic’s last roar.

 

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Loaded freelance reporter Chris Roberts has written extensively about music, film, literature and TV. He is also the author of around a dozen books.

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