He ran an outsider’s campaign. But D.C. is an insider’s town
WASHINGTON— Mingling with tourists at the wrought-iron gates that surround the White House, it remains incomprehensible that Donald Trump could occupy these illustrious premises.
I can’t find any mention in news databases that the Republican presidential nominee has ever actually set foot inside the building, even as an invited guest for a state dinner. (Which would put me one up on Trump: 1985, Ronald and Nancy Reagan gala-fêting the Prince and Princess of Wales, Diana famously dancing with John Travolta.)
A photo does exist of then first lady Hillary Clinton, smiling with Trump and his two older sons, which may have been taken at the White House, though not even the photographer can recall the details except that Trump set up the op-session. Trump did, five years ago, offer to pay for a new opulent White House ballroom “worth at least $100 million,” an out-of-pocket bestowal he resurrected in pre-primaries in January, when his bid for the Oval Office still seemed quixotically absurd.
Trump can throw the money around. It won’t help him here, in the District of Columbia, which has always voted Democrat and always by a wide margin — Barack Obama received 13 votes for every one captured by Mitt Romney in 2012. A mere three electoral votes are at stake.
D.C. is the quintessential company town — 38 per cent of the workforce are government employees. Trump is the quintessential outsider, which he wears like a badge. Certainly it’s a key explanatory factor for his apparent popularity among the restive working class, miserable about sinking prospects. Though billionaire Trump is the antithesis of a working-class hero.
Washington is also middle-class strong, with a highly educated and well-paid workforce that presumably would view Trump dimly. Not half as dimly, however, as the governing class on both sides of the aisle that Trump has relentlessly mocked and attacked.
Gutless Republicans on the Hill and in the Senate may have attached their lips to Trump’s zipper, but he’s no friend of theirs either. That’s a crucial component of his demagoguery, the maverick un-pol, a dark renegade banging at the gates of power. POTUS vox populi. Manifestly and monumentally unfit, unqualified, to be president of the United States and commander-inchief.
Yet here we are — were — one sleep away from the most consequential U.S. election in modern history, with Trump and Hillary Clinton bombarding battleground states on Monday in a final mad dash for votes.
Polls shmolls. The professional pulse-taking that put Clinton narrowly ahead this week are no more definitive than polls which slimly favoured Trump a few weeks ago. It would be foolhardy to take anything for granted in these short-stroke hours, especially in the swing states where both candidates have been furiously campaigning. Trump, it’s generally acknowledged, has no hope of winning if he doesn’t take Florida, for example, and was making like a Mexican jumping bean — you should forgive the expression — pinging around five blue states Monday, straining to turn at least one of them red.
Trump clearly still believes he was gifted a crucial nudge with FBI director James Comey’s astonishing interference last month, publicly disclosing the agency was investigating another trove of Clinton emails, casting a pall of renewed suspicion upon the Democratic candidate. Comey clumsily walked it back over the weekend, telling the Senate the FBI’s review hadn’t found evidence to reverse its July decision, that there should be no charges related to Clinton’s use of a private server while secretary of state. Yet a Trump super-PAC was still running ads Monday accusing Clinton of criminal misconduct as if she’s been indicted. Of course, truthiness — as devastatingly documented by my Star colleague Daniel Dale — has hardly been a hallmark of Trump, his acolytes and his sadly beguiled supporters.
Lost count of how many times Monday, at the North Carolina rally, Trump used the phrase “Crooked Clinton.” And “crooked” is one of the least barbarous terms Trump has flung at his opponent. The Great Vulgarian has single-handedly, single-mouthedly dragged the political process — never noble — into the septic tank. Every time he opens that small pursed mouth, bilge spews.
Advisers plead with Trump to stay on point. But Trump may in fact be smarter, in a grotty way, than the tall foreheads. Trumpists don’t want a rhetorically cautious candidate; that’s the whole pith of his appeal. Saying the un-say-able, going where no rational, non-deranged person has gone before. He’s cracked open unexplored territory, a slimy landscape where misanthropy thrives.
All indications are that Trump has only the narrowest path to victory available in the electoral math. But the butterfly effect remains in play — a sliver of chaos theory whereby the tiniest fluctuation can have walloping impact at another time and place. If not necessarily in the voting booth Tuesday, then in how America will look Wednesday morning, picking up the pieces of a horrendously toxic campaigning season. The damage Trump has wrought, his politics of fear and division, won’t be dispelled by losing this election. Too much bile has been coaxed to the surface. Trump’s Troops, emboldened, have crawled out of the corners and crevices, transforming the extremist into the tenable, the intolerant into the tolerable.
This election is not, as so many have insisted, a choice between the lesser of two evils, the premise primarily advanced by a right-wing commentariat that would rather hold its nose and vote Trump than unstiffen in their pathological hatred of Clinton. There is zero equivalency between the shortcomings of the Democratic contender and the dastard who would be president, who champions walls, who demonizes immigrants, who doesn’t read, who desecrates a slain Muslim serviceman, who smears and slanders women, who mocked a disabled reporter, who slicked five deferments to avoid Vietnam, who’s a fan-boy of Vladimir Putin, who hate-tweets, who wouldn’t release his tax filings, who’s piled up a heap of mendacious campaign promises from returning manufacturing jobs to the Rust Belt to wiping ISIS (what we call Daesh) off the map — just don’t ask him how.
There isn’t a fault line in American society that Trump hasn’t mined for traction, a hurt that he hasn’t picked at and inflamed.
Make America great again, yes, exactly: Citizen Trump instead of President Trump. Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Donald Trump addresses supporters in Raleigh, N.C., on Monday, the last day of campaigning.
Donald Trump is manifestly and monumentally unfit and unqualified to be president, writes Rosie DiManno.