STATESBORO, GEORGIA – It was the mosquito.
“Ooh, there was a mosquito,” the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party said at 7:27 pm last night. “I don’t want mosquitos around me. I don’t like mosquitos! I don’t like mosquitos and I never did.”
The tangent, which ended with Donald Trump comparing his general election opponent Secretary Hillary Clinton with the pest after he swatted it, was only one of many in a head-scratcher of a “speech” last night in Cincinnati that did little to prove his mettle for the Biggest Job In The Land but succeeded in raising a few eyebrows and furthering the question we’ve all been asking: what the hell is wrong with this man?
Looking at my notes from the hour-plus disaster, I have a hard time remembering anything of substance. He spent much too long praising Jack Nicklaus for his finishes in the U.S. Open. Bobby Knight for winning three NCAA basketball championships. Called the press “horrible human beings.” Defended his use of an anti-Semitic meme that’d been created by an alt-right racist website. Spent god knows how long defending his trip to Scotland to open his new golf course – going so far as to have his son come up and tell the crowd he loved them and his father IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAMN SPEECH – and touted the support of Don King and Mike Tyson, a convicted murderer and a convicted rapist.
I don’t know. I really don’t. I’ve been to a few of these rallies now and I’ve seen how sidetracked Trump can get. It happens especially when he gets going about polls or his old primary battles. He has a tendency to rehash the whole narrative as if he’s explaining the news to somebody who’s spent the last year camped out in a secluded cave. And usually the crowd will leave in the middle of it and he’ll be left speaking to a half-filled arena by the time he yells about his wall and making American great again, the those left screaming and hollering like their favorite rockstar just praised their hometown. But this is different. This is cumulative.
In Raleigh on Tuesday I watched him lose the crowd even as they were screaming for Clinton to be hung and the FBI Director and Attorney General to be fired. They were streaming for the exits by the dozens at one point when he was prattling on about whatever it was he was prattling on about. And that’s the interesting thing in this. The weapons that have served Trump most in this campaign so far are crumbling before our very eyes.
Think about the estimates that he’s gotten over two billion dollars worth of free advertising because the media can’t look away. Last night the outlets cut away from his disaster of a program because it slid too far off the rails. If these speeches keep following this trajectory and only get stranger, where does that leave Trump or his “movement”?
And the crowds. Surely there have to be some in the throng who are going to turn away. The rhetoric might excite them, but I can only imagine that the more unhinged Trump grows eventually a few are going to have that “a-ha” moment and realize they’re following a cheap suit straight into hell.
If that happens, pretty soon we’re just going to left watching an old bigot swatting mosquitos at a podium. Or, maybe not watching at all.
Image source: Donald Trump caricature by DonkeyHotey