Cit­i­zen Trump

He ran an out­sider’s cam­paign. But D.C. is an in­sider’s town

Toronto Star - - FRONT PAGE - Rosie Di Manno

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.

DAMON WIN­TER/THE NEW YORK TIMES

Don­ald Trump ad­dresses sup­port­ers in Raleigh, N.C., on Mon­day, the last day of cam­paign­ing.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Don­ald Trump is man­i­festly and mon­u­men­tally un­fit and un­qual­i­fied to be pres­i­dent, writes Rosie DiManno.

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