Is The Donald Trump Implosion About To Begin?

The fallout from Donald Trump's debate performance, and his comments afterward, continues, and it's leading some to wonder if we may finally be at the end of this ridiculous charade.

Donald Trump Hair

In the wake of his debate performance, two days of comments about Megyn Kelly, and getting uninvited from this weekend’s conservative gathering in Atlanta, Donald Trump has parted ways with the man that many believe has been a big influence on how Trump’s campaign has been conducted so far, and it’s leading to speculation about whether or not Trump’s seemingly inevitable downfall is about to begin:

Donald Trump’s campaign says they have fired Roger Stone, the self-described political “hit man” who has long advised Trump. Stone, however, told msnbc he was not terminated and instead resigned over Trump’s behavior.

Trump announced Stone’s departure in an interview with The Washington Post‘s Robert Costa, although he suggested Stone may deny his version of events. Stone caused a stir this week after he called Republican strategist Ana Navarro, who is Hispanic, and commentator Roland Martin, who is African American, “quota hires” on Twitter.

According to a purported letter of resignation provided by Stone, he left the campaign on Saturday because Trump derailed his message of “restoring national pride and bringing jobs back to America” with his constant public feuds.

“Unfortunately, the current controversies involving personalities and provocative media fights have reached such a high volume that it has distracted attention from your platform and overwhelmed your core message,” Stone wrote. “With this current direction of the candidacy, I no longer can remain involved in your campaign.”

Trump’s campaign accused Stone of exploiting the campaign for personal gain.

“Mr. Trump fired Roger Stone last night,” a spokeperson said in a statement. “We have a tremendously successful campaign and Roger wanted to use the campaign for his own personal publicity. He has had a number of articles about him recently and Mr. Trump wants to keep the focus of the campaign on how to Make America Great Again.”

Politico has more, including news of Stone’s comments on Twitter about what happened:

Donald Trump made the surprising announcement Saturday afternoon that he was firing his top adviser, Roger Stone, but hours before the political consultant’s friends told POLITICO that he was actually quitting.

“Sorry @realDonaldTrump didn’t fire me- I fired Trump. Diasagree with diversion to food fight with @megynkelly away core issue messages,” Stone, referencing Trump’s battle with a moderator of Fox’s Republican debate Thursday, said just before 3 p.m. on Twitter.

Earlier in the day, Stone’s friends told POLITICO that he sent an email to Trump announcing his decision to leave the campaign. More than an hour later, Trump told a Washington Post reporter he fired Stone. The news coincidentally hit Twitter about 15 minutes after Stone told a Fox News TV show that he couldn’t appear Saturday because he was no longer affiliated with the campaign, friends say.

“I can’t believe Roger got out-Trumped, that he got out-Stoned,” one of Stone’s friends said. “Roger’s mistake was trusting Donald and not establishing a clear record that he was resigning first.”

Regardless of who resigned or was fired first, the campaign shakeup was the first sign that Trump’s election effort was seriously damaged from within after his Thursday night debate performance and his subsequent comments in which he attacked one of the Fox debate moderators, Megyn Kelly.

Hours before Stone was planning to quit, conservative Erick Erickson disinvited Trump from his RedState gathering on Saturday because of Trump’s increasingly misogynistic attacks on Kelly.

Stone would not comment to POLITICO, but his friends shared a copy of the email he sent Trump in which he expressed gratitude concerning their longtime relationship, which dates back to the 1980s.

“I was proud to have played a role in the launch of your presidential campaign. Your message of ‘Make America Great Again’ harkened back to the Reagan era. Restoring national pride and bringing jobs back to America – your initial and still underlying message – is a solid conservative message. In fact, it catapulted you instantly into a commanding lead in the race,” Stone’s email said.

“Unfortunately, the current controversies involving personalities and provocative media fights have reached such a high volume that it has distracted attention from your platform and overwhelmed your core message,” Stone wrote. “With this current direction of the candidacy, I no longer can remain involved in your campaign.”

Though longtime friends, Stone and Trump have clashed before – in part because the two men share such similar combustible personalities. Both men are from New York; Stone lives in Fort Lauderdale now and Trump owns the Mar-a-Lago mansion to the north in Palm Beach. A longtime Republican operative, Stone became a libertarian. Trump has flirted with leaving the GOP as well.

The two clashed after Stone – known universally in political circles as a Nixon-era “dirty trickster” – helped bring down Trump friend and New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer in a prostitution scandal. But soon Stone and Trump were back and working together.

Roger Stone Jr., of course, has a long history in American politics that goes back to his times as a Young Republican working for the Nixon campaign and continues well into the current day. More recently, Stone has made a name for himself in ways such as writing a book in which he essentially claims that Lyndon Johnson was behind President Kennedy’s assassination and he’s also been rumored to have connections to Matt Drudge, Andrew Breitbart, and other conservative bomb throwers that have come and gone over the years. In many respects, this first month and a half of the Donald Trump campaign has many of the earmarks of a classic Stone campaign in its bombast and appeals to controversy and populism, but to a large degree much of that was a function of Trump himself so it’s unclear just what impact, if any, his withdrawal from the campaign will actually have going forward. We’ll get some preview of that tomorrow when Trump appears on four of the five Sunday morning talk shows (right now, he is not scheduled to appear on Fox News Sunday, but that could change). No doubt, this latest incident will be among the first topics discussed.

Leaving aside the issues about Roger Stone himself, though, what has happened here seems to be indicative of what is going on inside the Trump campaign. Just over the past week, the campaign has had to fire two advisers when it was discovered that both of them had a long history of making racist and other inflammatory statements on social media. In both cases, the campaign tried to spin the event by downplaying the relationship that they actually had with the individuals involved. In one case, though, the person fired was someone who had worked for Trump on the business side for quite some time, and in the other case the person fired was someone who had been brought on to run the Trump campaign in Arizona. Those two men were minor functionaries, though. Stone was one of Trump’s closest advisers and arguably the only one with any real campaign experience, and the break seems to have happened because of what happened on Thursday night and the Trump has acted since then:

The next morning, Stone had to fight Trump’s handlers to meet with him for 15 minutes, prompting the following exchange that both of Stone’s friends tell POLITICO happened:

Stone: “Donald, stop with the Megyn Kelly shit. It’s fucking crazy. It’s killing us.”

Trump: “What do you mean? I won the debate. People loved it.”

Stone: “You didn’t win the debate.”

Trump: “Yes I did. Look at the polling. Look at Drudge.”

Stone: “The Drudge Report poll isn’t a scientific poll. You won’t give me the money to pay for a scientific poll. And you’re off-message.”

Trump: “There are other polls.”

Stone: “Those are bullshit polls, Donald. They’re not scientific polls. We need to run a professional campaign and talk about what people really care about.”

Trump: “We’re winning.”

After the meeting, Trump did the opposite of what Stone had recommended by going on CNN and trashing Kelly. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her — wherever,” Trump said, a comment perceived by many to be a reference to a woman’s menstrual cycle. Trump’s campaign later denied that interpretation, but by then Stone was consulting his friends about quitting.

“He is losing his grip on reality,” Stone told them. “He has these yes-men around him. And now he’s living in a parallel world.”

If this is an accurate representation of what is going on inside Trump’s world right now, then it’s safe to say that everything those of us who have been laughing at this man for the past month and half believed is not true, but that it’s actually even worse than that. There have been some other indications of what’s been going inside Trump Tower in recent days that paint a similar picture. Gabriel Sherman in New York magazine, for example, paints a picture of a campaign that is basically being run out of Trump’s business offices in Manhattan with his campaign manger Corey Lewandowski attempting to fend off any efforts form other to take control away from him while Trump’s daughter Ivanka tries to intervene to get her father to dial back on thinks like his anti-Mexican comments at the start of the campaign.

Similar reports of campaign discord have appear elsewhere in the media, and all of them paint a picture very similar to the exchange between Stone and Trump quoted above. Here we have a man who apparently wants to run for President without actually running for President. By all accounts, he has very little in way of on-the-ground campaign staff in states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. His campaign has rebuffed efforts from state and local GOP officials to coordinate campaign events as is ordinarily the practice. His campaign website contains no “Issues” section, and he has never set forth any policy proposals in event the broadest detail. Everything that comes out of his mouth is either an insult, a comment on how horrible the condition of the United States is, or some vague comment about how he will “Make America Great Again,” a campaign slogan he stole from the 1980 campaign of Ronald Reagan. Despite all of this, he has ridden his bloviating to the top of the polls. The question now is whether he has finally gone to far. We won’t know that for sure until new polling starts coming out some time next week, but just based on my observations of the rantings of his supporters in various forums, one does get the impression that the end may be near for this bizarre little phenomenon.

If it’s not, and if Trump actually rises in the polls after all of this, well then that just says something very bad about a very large segment of our country.

Update: The Washington Post’s Robert Costa has a copy of Stone’s letter to Trump:

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2016, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rafer Janders says:

    “He is losing his grip on reality,” Stone told them. “He has these yes-men around him. And now he’s living in a parallel world.”

    How, again, does this make Trump any different from the rest of the Republican contenders?

  2. An Interested Party says:

    If it’s not, and if Trump actually rises in the polls after all of this, well then that just says something very bad about a very large segment of our country.

    Look at the cheers he got at the debate–that already says something very bad about a segment of our country…remember, these are Republicans, these are conservatives…these are the folks that people like you and James have thrown your lot in with…you and others continue to wait for Trump to crash and burn, but it hasn’t happened yet, but Republicans better hope it happens soon, for their sake…

  3. Gustopher says:

    Does any headline question ever have an answer other than “no”?

    Trump is more of an explode kind of guy than an implode kind of guy. But, more than that, he’s more of a slow moving train wreck, seemingly self-sustaining as he does until damage.

    He’s great.

  4. Senyordave says:

    Trump is sticking it to the liberals, and for much of the Republican base that is the only thing that matters.

    Racist pig? Big deal, he just says what many think.

    When the candidate pool includes Carson and Cruz, and your “serious” candidates include Christie and Walker, there is no need to apologize for Donald Trump.

  5. charon says:

    Here we have a man who apparently wants to run for President without actually running for President. By all accounts, he has very little in way of on-the-ground campaign staff in states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. His campaign has rebuffed efforts from state and local GOP officials to coordinate campaign events as is ordinarily the practice. His campaign website contains no “Issues” section, and he has never set forth any policy proposals in event the broadest detail.

    Is Trump the only one like this? How much of this can also apply to other candidates Carson, Cruz, Paul etc.?

  6. Davebo says:

    Keep dreaming the dream Doug. What is this? Your fourth “surely this will do him in” post?

    Don’t worry, you’ll still have Derrick Michael Reid and his rather unusual uniform.

    But I think we all know that’s unlikely.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    I predicted right after the debate that Trump would begin a long, slow decline. We await the polls.

  8. Davebo says:
  9. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    I haven’t looked very hard, but so far, I’m not seeing any fallout outside of the people who we already opposed to Trump, so I will say no. Losing an experienced campaign operative is a setback, but I’ve never been a fan of Trump being “in it to win it.” I’m not sure why he is running but don’t think he intends to do what he will have to with his holdings if he does win. It’s only about the benjamins–I just don’t see where they are.

  10. grumpy realist says:

    And supposedly half of the people over at RedState want to tar and feather The Eric for not being sufficiently respectful of The Donald.

    Do any of these idiots ever realize that Donald Trump is nothing more than the equivalent of a geek at a carnival show, and that if you insult people enough, pretty soon you’re going to run out of clients?

  11. PJ says:

    I still hope that a lot of Trump’s followers will vote for him as a third party candidate if he goes independent or end up refusing to vote at all.

    Trump would have eventually faltered even without Fox News trying crucify him (compare the questions given to him with the questions given to Rubio), but now he will be able to scream about the establishment trying to pick its preferred candidate instead of letting primary voters do it.

  12. Rick Almeida says:

    @Senyordave:

    “Sticking it to the liberals”? The man has nothing of substance to say about anything. A quarter of Republicans want what Trump is – pure id. Nobody else finds his increasingly unhinged rants appealing.

  13. Paludicola says:

    Maybe it is. My guess had been that after Jon Stewart signed off for the last time Trump would say, “my work here is done. Now I must return to my home planet.” That didn’t happen, so I’m stumped.

  14. jukeboxgrad says:

    Doug:

    just based on my observations of the rantings of his supporters in various forums, one does get the impression that the end may be near for this bizarre little phenomenon

    Really? At Breitbart, the main thread on this topic has attracted about 7000 comments in about 7 hours. That’s extraordinary. The top-rated comment has over 300 upvotes, also extraordinary. Here is the key content from that comment:

    Erick Erickson (what dumb parents would give their kid this name anyway?) … TRUMP 2016

    You can guess what the rest of the comment says. As someone else mentioned, Erickson is also being slammed at his own site. So where is your evidence contrary to this?

  15. JohnMcC says:

    It’s amazing to visit breitbart’s where the Trump tribe seems to be assembled. A story about Erickson dis-inviting Mr Trump has drawn over 7,000 comments with a uniform message that Red State has now joined the liberal elite, that political correctness is the source of all the world’s trouble and that true conservatives like them are on the march. Another story about GOP candidates ‘piling on’ has over 9,000 such responses.

    If Mr Trump wishes to make an independent run he’s definitely got a crowd behind him. His mismanagement may totally ruin it but the potential is there.

  16. JohnMcC says:

    @jukeboxgrad: Imitation is the highest flattery.

  17. jukeboxgrad says:

    It’s amazing to visit breitbart’s where the Trump tribe seems to be assembled.

    I think this is a really good way to assess the health of Trumpism, and so far I have never been disappointed.

  18. Tyrell says:

    “After the debate, Trump was reported to be making some changes – a new hair stylist !”

    “Scientists now think they have figured out the cause of global warming – Trump’s hair dryer !”

  19. jukeboxgrad says:

    A long, messy, personal battle between Trump and Fox is in the best interest of both parties. It’s good for Fox because it will help ratings, and that’s all they care about. It’s good for Trump because Fox is going to be slamming him continuously (possibly for many months), and now he gets to say ‘they’re continuously distorting the facts because I continuously make Megyn mad.’ This kind of rationalization will sell well with his fans.

    So Trump wants you to think he’s being spontaneous, but I suspect he’s being strategic.

  20. Pinky says:

    I was saying that I expected Trump to be picked apart in the debate by his fellow Republicans precisely because he’s not a conservative. That happened. My guess is that his campaign will collapse functionally, although his decline in the polls will be more gradual. The pockets that support him will grow smaller but louder, and the press will even give up on the show.

  21. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    You’re missing the point. I don’t blame you, because it eluded me for a long while. Trump’s fans don’t love him for his ideology; they love him because he’s a boor and a bully. They identify with that.

    Trump’s fan base is the Palin fan base. They loved her because she was a yokel with a dysfunctional family, mirroring their own circumstances. They loved Ted Cruz for a while, because he had the makings of an oaf and a bully. And now they’re enraptured with Trump because he’s a bigger oaf and bully. And that’s what they to be.

    These are people who are very, very angry that they’re excluded from the corridors of powers by “the elites,” Republican or Democrat, “the elites” being people who are reasonably civilized, who read the occasional book that isn’t a religious tract or something written by Rush Limbaugh, who might enjoy a glass of good wine, who don’t think that Chic-fil-A is the ultimate in haute cuisine.

    They’re people who think Charles Krauthammer is a liberal Communist. But not because of Krauthammer’s political positions. Krauthammer’s a liberal Communist because he went to Harvard, probably eats in nice restaurants, lives in a city (the hotbed of all evil) , and doesn’t think NASCAR is the crowning achievement of western civilization.

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Doug? for a more thorough review of this dust up, may I suggest a quick read thru of these twits tweets?

    Including these hits:

    Erickson is lobbying hard for a show on Fox News. A guy who calls people “Abortion Barbie” & “goat f*cking child molester” isn’t offended.
    and
    Remember five minutes ago when Conservatives mocked disinviting speakers as Liberal speech-code fascism?
    and
    Erickson blocked me, so I can’t retweet this, where he refers to Dem convention as The Vagina Monologues
    I know you want to keep this about Stone and the Donald, but it’s a whole lot bigger than that right now.

  23. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pinky: And Pinky reestablishes his skill as an ace selective listener again. Well done.

  24. Tony W says:

    I have said it before Doug, and I know it’s hard to hear, but this is your preferred party. A huge percentage of Republicans – including many people I know and otherwise respect – are completely off the rails crazy when it comes to politics. Sticking it to the liberals resonates with these people – even if it would mean we’d all be speaking Russian 50 years from now.

    These people are without ideas, other than hate for those who embrace change.

  25. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: I agree with all that you say–I’m just surprised that the “Boo-YAH!” population is such a high percentage of the Republican Party at present.

    And of course the Business Republicans are swallowing their back teeth because although this population is very easily pointed towards an enemy, they’re also scaring off all the reasonable people who will stampede elsewhere.

    I’m not exactly sure what to call this crew–the idiots? The 27%? The lumpenproletariat? The short-fingered vulgarians?

    They certainly love them some Trump, because he’s loud, swaggering, a foul-mouthed racist and sexist, and acts just like they would like to while being rich as Croesus. The fact that The Donald has gone through four bankruptcies and would have made even MORE money had he taken his inheritance and just dumped it in some ETFs is of course carefully avoided.

    The funniest aspect of this is watching Rod Dreher over at TAC trying to applaud Erickson for his defense of the blonde damsel in distress and get a) gleefully reminded of all the nasty, sleazy, sexist stuff Erickson has said about OTHER women, and b) stampeded over by the Trumpions in his own ranks.

  26. Pinky says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: Selective listening? That’s an odd accusation. Trump is like one of those bad Elvis impersonators who seemingly has never heard Elvis, so he tries to sound like the impersonators. Anyone who’s heard the original can tell the difference. You guys are so committed to your impression of what conservatives must be like that you hear an obnoxious rich person and assume he’s a conservative. You’re so convinced that Canadian-style health care is the way to go that it doesn’t sound weird to you to hear a conservative impersonator endorse it. To me the whole thing sounds like an Elvis impersonator singing Tainted Love. Drunks in a casino will listen for a while and laugh, and then move on.

  27. jukeboxgrad says:

    The whole thing is intensely hilarious, and it’s just going to keep getting better.

    Next up, we need to hear from Palin. I would advise her to make a statement roughly as follows: ‘It’s pretty obvious Kelly was on the rag, so I don’t see any problem with pointing that out.’

  28. Tony W says:

    @Pinky:

    You guys are so committed to your impression of what conservatives must be like that you hear an obnoxious rich person and assume he’s a conservative.

    Trump is leading in the polls of our self-proclaimed Conservative Party. His message resonates with “conservatives”.

  29. Gustopher says:

    @Senyordave:

    Trump is sticking it to the liberals, and for much of the Republican base that is the only thing that matters.

    Is he really sticking it to the liberals, though? I mean, the liberals are laughing at him, and his supporters. The longer he is in the race, the more fun it is.

    I would say that he is sticking it to the Republicans.

  30. jukeboxgrad says:

    And this is my favorite little detail. I haven’t noticed anyone focusing on this:

    In an attempted clarification, Mr. Trump’s team tells me he meant “whatever”, not “where ever.”

    I lack enough sophistication as a speaker of English to see how that makes any difference. Can anyone explain the nuance I’m missing?

  31. gVOR08 says:
  32. Hal_10000 says:

    I knew Trump would be a disaster when he reacted to the roasting at the WHCD with a stone face and whining. He is fatuous and has no sense of humor about himself. That’s a dangerous combination.

  33. An Interested Party says:

    You guys are so committed to your impression of what conservatives must be like that you hear an obnoxious rich person and assume he’s a conservative.

    Umm, no dear…the support the Trump is getting in the polls from conservatives is what links him to them…it has nothing to do with the impressions of anyone around here…

  34. Kylopod says:

    @Pinky: I remember a report I did in BIO 101 about scientists who introduced a robotic honeybee into a hive, and the bees actually accepted it as one of their own.

    That’s sort of how I think of Trump. The point isn’t that he’s for real, it’s that so many conservatives act as though is–which says something about today’s conservatives, and it ain’t a compliment.

  35. JohnMcC says:

    @Pinky: You are selectively listening to Mr Trump. Since he is saying nothing of actual value I am listening instead to the large number of people who support him. They are the ones saying he is the conservative who will carry their flag.

    Pay closer attention.

  36. Todd says:

    We’ve all been waiting a long time for the Conservative movement to truly “jump the shark”. I don’t know, but when it gets to the point where Fox “News” and RedState are accused of being part of the “liberal media”; even if the jump hasn’t actually taken place, the boat is certainly racing towards the ramp.

  37. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod:

    The point isn’t that he’s for real, it’s that so many conservatives act as though is–which says something about today’s conservatives, and it ain’t a compliment.

    This, a thousand times. I don’t know any liberals who are doing anything other than pointing and laughing at the antics of Trump and even more so at the antics of the entire GOP in reaction to him.

    Pinky, we are laughing but no, we aren’t laughing with you.

  38. grumpy realist says:

    @Hal_10000: Anyone who runs around emphasizing how RICH he is obviously has some doubts on the matter….

    And the combover. Dear God, the combover. If The Donald had as much belief in himself as he claims he has, he’d shave his head and stop insisting that whatever it is that he’s trained to live on his head be forced to act like a wig.

    Even tribbles have rights, too!

  39. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I’m a bit surprised that Trump hasn’t told us how “really, really” big his penis is. Metaphorically he has, of course, but why not literally?

    He must be a bundle of insecurities and inadequacies.

  40. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pinky:

    You guys are so committed to your impression of what conservatives must be like that you hear an obnoxious rich person and assume he’s a conservative.

    Ah, the “No True Conservative” fallacy.

  41. Tillman says:

    @Rafer Janders: Fallacies are funny things. Found an imgur album full of “Fallacy Ref” macros. Might start using ’em. Pinky got this penalty as you noted. Mr. Reynolds earlier in the week obviously got this one.

    (Debated whether what you posted counted as this, but I’m fairly positive a laconic sentence doesn’t make an argument.)

  42. Tillman says:

    After the Trump-McCain fiasco (which I’m going to lobby local historians hard to name it as), I’m going to judge slowly. Very slowly. Time horizon for my judgment is the next poll that comes out at which point if I see something I don’t like I’ll continue suspending judgment till the world makes sense.

  43. stonetools says:

    @CSK:

    Im sure it’s YOOOOGE-at least in his imagination.

    According to the latest polls, Trump continues to reign supreme. I see no signs of an implosion-whic is great for the Democrats, and bad for Doug’s preferred party. .

  44. JohnMcC says:

    @Tillman: Just un-skew those polls if you don’t like ’em. It was easy back a couple of years ago.

  45. Pinky says:

    @Rafer Janders: No, that’s not the case at all. There are conservatives, and some of them can be boneheads and jerks. Ted Cruz is a true conservative within the generally accepted range on social, international, and fiscal issues. He’s also a jerk. But not every jerk is a true conservative, and not everyone claiming to be a conservative is true. Supporting Clinton, supporting Canadian-style health care…there’s one issue on which Trump sounds like a conservative impersonator, and that’s immigration. As I said, though, he just can’t get the tune right.

  46. jukeboxgrad says:

    not everyone claiming to be a conservative is true

    You are pointing that observation at Trump, which is missing the point.

    The phoniness of Trump’s conservatism is not interesting, because it’s obvious to the sane. What’s interesting is the phoniness of his supposedly conservative followers. If they weren’t phony conservatives themselves they wouldn’t be so easily seduced by a phony conservative.

    he just can’t get the tune right

    The “tune” his followers want to hear is something he understands and you do not.

  47. LWA (LIberal WIth Attitude) says:

    @CSK:
    Well written, but its also good to see what this really is, which is the age old strategy of the elites to distract the rage of the commoners away from the elite, towards some marginalized group.

    As the saying goes, the misery of the people is never the lord in the manor, its always the Gypsy, the Jew, the witch, the foreigners a town over, somebody, anybody but never, ever the lord in the manor.

    And there is a percentage of the rubes who fall for this, every single time.

  48. David M says:

    @Pinky:

    “Conservatives” aren’t criticizing Trump over his deviations from acceptable policy positions, they are criticizing him for being an a-hole to their own group.

  49. Pinky says:

    @David M: That’s not what I’m seeing.

  50. Tillman says:

    @Pinky: so you missed the stuff reported on CBS this morning, over Trump claiming Megyn Kelly was hormonal (the exact words were a vague allusion to menstruation) and every single candidate and the orgs supporting those candidates putting out a press release saying his remarks were wrong? Or you missed the week before with Trump saying McCain wasn’t a war hero, and the resultant backlash there? Or is your contention that this is all lamestream media hype?

    Where are you seeing the policy differences being drawn out for inspection derision by other candidates? Trump in the past has certainly backed anathema positions to the base (you keep referencing Canadian-style healthcare), but has he come out since starting a campaign with a policy proposal? I thought it was all trolling so far.

  51. Davebo says:

    Post-Debate Poll (NBC)
    Trump 23%
    Cruz 13%
    Carson 11%
    Fiorina 8%
    Rubio 8%
    Bush 7%
    Walker 7%

  52. DrDaveT says:

    @Pinky:

    he just can’t get the tune right

    His tune may not appeal to you personally — and for that, God bless you — but you can’t deny the fact that it has appealed, and continues to appeal, to huge numbers of self-described conservatives. People who would never, ever, vote for a Democrat. People who care deeply who the GOP nominee will be. Republicans.

    The important question is not “what are Trump’s policies, and are they conservative?”. Trump has no policies, other than being pro-Trump. The important question is “what the tofu are all of these conservative Republicans smoking, that makes them susceptible to the siren song of Trump?” (Or, for the more pessimistic, “What happened to American education that…”)

  53. DrDaveT says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Trump has no policies, other than being pro-Trump.

    Riffing on this, my first comment back when this article was first posted should have been to point out that Doug’s question is ill-posed. It’s a category error to ask whether a marketing campaign is about to implode. Marketing campaigns can fail, or fizzle, or end — it’s hard to imagine what it would look like for one to ‘implode’.

    Mistaking a marketing campaign for a political campaign… well, that would be an even sillier mistake.

  54. michael reynolds says:

    I consider Trump to be proof of my belief that politics is far less about policies than emotion. The dominant emotions on the right are resentment, self-pity and incoherent rage. Trump isn’t a conservative, he’s a bully. His supporters want a bully.

    Trump’s voters want a belligerent, charismatic thug to lead them. They don’t really care where he wants to lead them, they only need to know that he’s angry and has a scapegoat in sight.

    That said, I still think he’ll poll around 15% a week out. Trump’s show has no middle and no real final act, it’s all opening scenes. He’s a Duce with no ideology, no party, no plan. Even the morons will tire of it and start looking for some new rage-o-holic. Presumably Cruz.

  55. Davebo says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Haven’t we known all along that after the circus tent is broken down and the car drives off into the sunset it’s going to be Jeb and Hillary just as expected?

  56. Pinky says:

    @DrDaveT: As I’ve said before, his appeal is the same as Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack against Jeb Bush’s Ted Knight. In my circles, the most positive statement I’ve heard about Trump is “it’s too bad that immigration wasn’t brought up by a real candidate”. To a lot of people, a vote for Trump is like two votes against Jeb – in the polls, at least. By election time, between his absurdity and his policies, he’ll be a nothing. The thing is, you guys all seem to realize that he’ll be a nothing by then, but you’re going to interpret it as all about his personality. It’s his personality (obviously) but also his policies.

  57. Davebo says:

    @Pinky:

    In my circles, the most positive statement I’ve heard about Trump is “it’s too bad that immigration wasn’t brought up by a real candidate”.

    Yes, because lord knows there’s been total silence on immigration from the rest of the pack.

    That certainly reflects poorly on your circle.

  58. PJ says:

    @Davebo:

    Post-Debate Poll (NBC)
    Trump 23%
    Cruz 13%
    Carson 11%
    Fiorina 8%
    Rubio 8%
    Bush 7%
    Walker 7%

    I don’t believe that one.

    And since it’s not on NBC News, but all over Breitbart and Free Republic, I don’t think anyone else should either.

    Where did you find it?

  59. Davebo says:

    @PJ:

    Balloon Juice

    They have a screen shot but I suppose it could be photoshopped or taken from the past.

  60. Davebo says:

    Looks like a survey monkey online poll so skepticism is warranted.

  61. DrDaveT says:

    @Pinky:

    It’s his personality (obviously) but also his policies.

    What ‘policies’? Seriously. “Build a wall” (with or without a “big, beautiful door”) is not a policy. “Make America great again” is not a policy. What are these alleged policies of his that you think people are responding to? If he’s actually articulated one, and I missed it, I’d like to know.

  62. PJ says:

    @Davebo:
    There’s an update about possible bad methodology.

  63. Pinky says:

    @DrDaveT: Come on, read what I said. I didn’t say that people are responding to his policies, I’ve said the opposite. I’ve said that no one’s responding to his policies. I said that once people start to realize what his policies are, his popularity is going to come crashing down.

  64. michael reynolds says:

    If that were a real NBC poll it would be tagged as NBC/WSJ. That’s just an online survey, I believe.

  65. PJ says:

    NBC/Survey Monkey ……

    edit: has already been pointed out

  66. michael reynolds says:

    @Davebo:

    I still think that’s the likely outcome. My guess is that the likeliest outcomes are Hillary v. Bush, followed by Hillary v. Kasich, Hillary v. Walker, Hillary v. Rubio and finally Hillary v. Fiorina.

    But that may be my worries talking.

    I think in the end the GOP establishment – Roger Ailes, Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge and variou ex-Lehman employees – will manage to corral the crazies. The question is how bloody that civil war will be.

    I think the true Conservative Messiah is not Trump but Cruz and that’s where the Trumpites will land once The Donald finds his excuse to exit. If Cruz can grab the crazy banner he’ll be harder to get rid of than Trump, who may be an asshole but isn’t so stupid as to imagine he could actually win, and in the end believes in nothing but his own reflection in a limpid pool. Cruz is an opportunist able to channel the hate and the rage of the right-wing while mouthing all the obligatory absurdities.

    Right now the GOP seems split between the Clown Car Caucus and the Banker’s Delight caucus, each with about 40% of the vote. The remaining 20% will support the Bankers eventually, they’re just playing the field for now. But will the CCC let themselves be used and abandoned yet again?

  67. Davebo says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I’d never put Hillary v. Kasich at number 2 but I’d love it if that was how it al washed out.

    Fiorina couldn’t win a senate seat against Feinstein at a time that Feinstein should have been vulnerable.

    Though that would be a fun election. Once Fiorina’s alleged business prowess was decimated by facts (not even HP but the train wreck she engineered at Lucent) it could be a blood bath.

  68. wr says:

    @Davebo: “Fiorina couldn’t win a senate seat against Feinstein at a time that Feinstein should have been vulnerable.”

    Actually, it wasn’t Feinstein, it was Barbara Boxer. And then, as now, the pundit class went Krazy for Karly, announcing breathlessly that Boxer was just too darn left to win against this formidable opponenent who had not only run a company (albeit into the ground) but was rich!!!

    And in the end, Boxer not only won, but won by ten points — 52% to 42%. Because not only does Boxer appeal much more to voters than she does to the punditocracy, real voters were able to see Fiorina as a cold, entitled, unpleasant person whose sole accomplishment in life was firing tens of thousands of workers and sending their jobs to China.

    None of that mattered to the pundits then, and it won’t this year, either. And they will be just as unwilling to admit how wrong they were this time around, either.

  69. JohnMcC says:

    @PJ: I also had my eyes bug out when I saw (on BalloonJuice as you did) the NBC/SurveyMonkey poll. So I did what I never, ever do and watched Meet the Press. (It was apparently a MTP poll.) They had no explanation of methods or internals (which should raise suspicions more than ratings!) but had a companion set of numbers generated by the question ‘who lost the debate’. Amazingly, Mr Trump had the highest numbers there too! Like you I wait to see the details before trusting the poll and like you I read a comment somewhere that it is an ‘on-line poll’.

    In some ways the NBC/SurveyMonkey numbers are similar to an ‘instant poll’ following the debate by the Garvis Marketing folks for the “One America News Network” (whoever they might be) that was apparently a telephone poll of Repubs and R-leaners. Not a duplicate (Carson won in the Garvis poll) but of course the actual questions were different. But similar enough to make the NBC/SM poll seem reasonable.

    http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ben-carson-scores-big-win-at-the-first-gop-debate-followed-by-marco-rubio-300125436.html

    Predictwise has not moved. (Jeb! 40%/Walker 15%/Rubio 14% — and — Dem 61%/Repub 39%)

    FiveThirtyEight and Princeton Electoral Consortium are observing radio silence.

    And at breitbart’s the Trump tribe is exultant; they’re sure they have a winner.

  70. JohnMcC says:

    @michael reynolds: At this astonishingly early moment in the race every prediction depends on chance as much as skilled, in-depth analysis as I’m sure you agree. But having exposed myself to the comments columns of more RWNJ sites than is good for one’s health (I felt like soaking my eyeballs in Chlorox.) I have to say that Mr Trump won’t go away until he decides he’s no longer having fun. And endless ‘phone-ins’ to national news shows, crowds meeting him at the airport and police motorcades just seem to me like crack for him. I don’t see him dropping out soon.

    Which is a convoluted way of saying that there’s a big segment of Repubs who will be just thrilled to have a chance to vote for someone other that Jeb!, Kasich, Walker or Rubio. They are aware that an independent Trump campaign will put Ms Clinton in the WH and they don’t care. They have been lied to by the Repub ‘establishment’ and want revenge. The anger there is something I haven’t experienced since my divorce.

  71. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @jukeboxgrad: No, you’re not missing a thing. In the context, both are pretty interchangeable.

  72. michael reynolds says:

    @JohnMcC:

    They are aware that an independent Trump campaign will put Ms Clinton in the WH and they don’t care.

    Your lips to God’s ears. I’d love to see Trump go third party. It would elect Hillary and perhaps finally convince whatever is left of the GOP that they need to reverse the disastrous and immoral path they took in 1968.

  73. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pinky: Consider what you are saying (and hearing):

    the most positive statement I’ve heard about Trump is “it’s too bad that immigration wasn’t brought up by a real candidate”.

    Is that statement really from someone who is hoping that the GOP is going to break out with some sort of sensible reform position or is it about hating the messenger that delivered the message?

    Your friends are fine with the message, they just wish someone other than Trump had said it!

  74. Pinky says:

    @Davebo:
    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:
    Immigration was going to be an issue in this campaign. Due to Trump it’s going to be more of an issue. That’s a good thing. Due to Trump it’s been framed in a way that’s both offensive and nonsensical. That’s a bad thing.

  75. Davebo says:

    @wr:

    Thanks for the correction WR.

  76. wr says:

    @Davebo: That was the same year Meg Whitman ran against Jerry Brown for governor, with the same disastrous results. But at least Whitman has had the common courtesy to go away…