One thing became painfully clear for the Republican Party at last night’s inaugural debate in Cleveland: They are facing a gigantic obstacle to any success in 2016, and that obstacle takes the form of one Donald John Trump.
Despite doing his boorish best to talk himself right out of relevance, I am personally betting that his performance will only raise his poll numbers. Why? Because the voters he is trying to appeal to don’t care if he insults Fox host Megyn Kelly or all the women on the planet. Their thinking is this: So he calls a woman ugly, but he’s gonna build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. Hell yeah!
The Failure to Attack Trump
No one else on the stage with Trump last night really went after him, and that was a huge mistake. In a political debate, you are never hurt when you punch upwards, in the direction of the candidate who has higher poll numbers than you do. Christie could have gone attack dog on Trump, but he saved his fire for Rand Paul, which was a missed opportunity. Neither Christie or Paul has a chance in hell of winning the nomination, so their dustup was nothing more than two men with virtually no political stature staring each other down.
Jeb Bush could have taken some swipes, but he was too busy trying not to offend anyone or make another of his patented verbal miscues, such as when he said Medicare needs to be phased out. He smiled and talked in platitudes, which is boring.
Maybe the other nine sharing the spotlight with Trump feared what he would say about them if they aimed a barb at him. But hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and no one made any hay last night except the Donald.
Trump’s Third Way of Destruction
Some simple political mathematics: If Trump wins the GOP nomination, he loses to whoever is the Democratic nominee. The polls show this. And he doesn’t just lose, he loses in historic landslide fashion. Think he can carry his home state of New York? Please! He might not even win Texas, which has been a lock for Republicans. My personal projection is that he would lose 42-45 states to either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.
And what happens if Trump doesn’t win the nomination? As he noted last night, he will not rule out running as a third party candidate. If he does, he hands the election to the Democrats. This is the nightmare scenario for the GOP.
What Trump Wants
What does Donald Trump want? He simply wants to be the most famous man in the world, and he can think of no platform higher than the presidency.
The powers-that-be in the GOP are terrified of what Trump represents, and they are watching as the 2016 election passes them by. They had a chance to take Trump down last night and failed to even make an attempt. And as Trump has repeatedly shown already, what does not kill him makes him stronger. After last night, he is the 800-pound gorilla in the room, and no Republican has a plan for how to deal with him.
As a Democrat, I see Trump as a gift from the political gods. No matter what he does, it strengthens the hand of the Democratic nominee. I may even have to send the Donald a thank you card when this is all over with.
This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org.