Accept for a moment that polls more than a year out accurately reflect how any segment of the national electorate might actually vote. That puts Donald Trump in the lead for the Republican presidential nomination by double digits.
How does that fit, GOP voter?
What, not you?
Well, someone is telling pollsters he would pick Trump from at least 17 candidates. The New York real estate magnate and former reality TV star claims a $10 billion personal fortune and poll numbers as high as 26 percent. Only two other Republicans, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, even scrape the teens.
So it is to those Trump backers that we offer this friendly advice: Get serious. If you’re still onboard after what you’ve seen the last few days, you’re either only pretending to be a Republican or you’re happy to skip down the Whig Trail to nowhere.
One debate in (with fallout), and this phenomenon, for lack of a better term, has ceased to be about Donald Trump. As in years past, it’s now more about the people who say they support him, hell (quite possibly) or high water (undoubtedly).
What Trump drives home through ill-considered remarks about Mexican immigrants, former Vietnam POW John McCain and now Fox News host Megyn Kelly is that he’s no plain-spoken candidate of character. He doesn’t even pretend to play one on TV.
What his remaining fans support is someone willing to mouth in public the words of the proudly xenophobic, ignorant and misogynistic. That he believes there’s a market for that among actual Republicans is unfortunate — for Republicans.
Look, we understand his mile-wide, inch-deep surface appeal. He insists he’s the one anti-political-correctness candidate. “He tells it like it is,” instead of offering stereotypically squishy, over-focus-grouped talking points. He sounds so fearless because he’ll say anything to anybody.
Except he’s not. He whines and complains when a debate moderator asks him pointed and perfectly within-bounds questions about things he has done or said. When that questioner is a woman, he steps down from the gutter — or wherever — and tries to bully her into silence, then denies what the world understood him to say.
Disagree? Well, “stupid,” that puts you among the “slobs,” “fat pigs,” “idiots,” “dogs” or “disgusting animals.” You don’t have to like Rosie O’Donnell or Megyn Kelly to be repelled by such crassness. All you have to be is a human being with a brain and common sense. We’re confident such Republican voters still exist.
Telling it like it is doesn’t have to mean stooping to the vulgar extremes. Someone actually running for president would know that; someone play-acting as a candidate caricature might not. Or, in Donald Trump’s case, clearly doesn’t.
His chance of winning the GOP nomination is nil, and he won’t even promise to support the nominee. All he can do is drag a party down with him.