Donald Trump had a rotten debate. That was the best part of his week. Here’s what followed:
- He whined about the moderator and the microphone.
- He stirred the pot for a second straight day, insisting that he saved former Miss Universe Alicia Machado’s job.
- His staff basically accused him in background leaks to the New York Times of having an attention-deficit problem.
- He started talking about Bill Clinton’s infidelities (which make Hillary Clinton seem more sympathetic) while saying he wouldn’t.
- He called on people in his audience at a campaign rally who were not evangelical Christians to raise their hands. He jocularly asked, “Should we keep them?”
- He said there is a Google conspiracy to limit bad news about Hillary Clinton.
- Rudy Giuliani (who seems increasingly unbalanced) has begun talking as though he is the candidate — a worse one than Trump. He told a crowd in Wisconsin that if you tax the rich, you make everybody rich. (Even Clinton doesn’t believe that.)
- He reverted to insulting Clinton about her health. (“She can’t even make it to her car!” he said about her bout with pneumonia.)
- Having signaled that he paid no federal taxes in some years, he then claimed that he would have if the money wasn’t wasted.
Is Trump nuts? We are compelled to return to the subject of his temperamental stability and emotional wherewithal. If he is going to freak out, going on a self-destructive rhetorical binge for 48 hours, how is he supposed to be, you know, president? He surrounds himself with people equally erratic (Giuliani), which only heightens his paranoia and anger.
You don’t have to render a medical diagnosis to see what is going on. Trump cannot bear to lose. He cannot stand to be attacked, especially successfully! He has to make himself feel in control and superior, so he claims that the fix is in. He was politically bloodied by Clinton, so he has to insist that she is frail and weak. (How did such a delicate flower beat him so decisively, then?) To make himself feel better, he must belittle everyone else. This is the personality of an 8-year-old bully.
None of this is rational, and Trump — contrary to his claim — does not have a “very good brain.” He couldn’t study up for the debate, let alone for the campaign as a whole or the presidency. He is a prisoner to his own impulsiveness and lacking any sense of self-awareness or empathy for others.
All of this we have seen before — when he attacked Judge Gonzalo Curiel, when he went after the Gold Star parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, when he lost to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) in Iowa (and went on a tear over Cruz’s alleged cheating) and so on. Once you puncture Trump’s enormous ego, the mean, little man who remains turns on others, acts out and makes a perfect fool of himself. After days of this, other Republicans usually prevail upon him to settle down and get back to the script. (Ah, remember the new, more disciplined Trump!)
We have no idea how long it will take for Trump to compose himself — or if he will before the campaign is over. The impression from Monday, however, has now hardened: This is a seriously damaged person who shouldn’t be allowed near the Oval Office.