Writing in Vox on January 30, and with much more prescience than me, David Roberts explained “Why I Still Believe Donald Trump Will Never Be President.” Trump’s whole MO turns on dominance, he wrote. What sort of face will he show to the voters when he’s not in a position of total control?
Presidential campaigns are long and intense, with many ups and downs along the way. Once he is no longer a phenomenon, a spectacle, but an honest-to-god candidate in a one-on-one race, Trump will not be able to avoid answering questions about policy or substance. He will not be able to belittle and marginalize everyone who challenges him or skip every debate that doesn’t agree to his terms.
He will not be able to dictate the terms of the contest, as he has so far.
Sooner or later he’ll have to navigate situations where he’s on the defensive, where he’s being asked to defend himself or apologize or treat an opponent with respect. What then? What will arrogant bluster look like in that context?….It’s pathological. And the thing about pathologies is that they cannot be taken on and off like masks. They are pre-conscious; they order incoming experience.
Or what, he might have asked, would happen if he loses a caucus that he really, really thought he was going to win–and that nearly every pollster, media outlet, fellow traveler and determined adversary had assured him he would? Trump’s embarrassing Twitter meltdown this morning makes him look even more deflated than he did on Monday night.
Maybe it really is true, that the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Maybe the whole Trump phenomenon will turn out to have been a fever dream. We’ll soon find out.