No More Teflon Don
The rules of politics do apply to Donald Trump.
By Peter Fenn | Contributor USNews & World Report
Aug. 15, 2016, at 4:10 p.m.
It was quite extraordinary. Throughout the summer of 2015, into the fall and on through the primaries and caucuses, Donald J. Trump was saying the most outrageous things and yet he kept winning and rising in the polls.
Calling immigrants rapists, wanting to build walls that Mexico would pay for, banning those of the Muslim faith from entering the U.S., denigrating the service of Sen. John McCain, directing schoolyard insults at his opponents, leveling attacks against our NATO allies, producing tweets and language that made the average reader cringe – Trump was seemingly impervious to the consequences of his actions.
He was viewed as Teflon Trump. His infamous statement in Iowa in January that “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, okay, and I wouldn’t lose any votes, okay?” became just one more over-the-top comment that seemed to bounce right off.
It gave rise to the notion that Trump was such a different kind of candidate the rules did not apply to him, that he was given a pass by a large segment of Americans, that “speaking his mind” – even if he was off-base, – was acceptable.
The trouble with this analysis is that it was made during a crowded primary season, when Trump was getting about 13 million votes, less than half of those cast in Republican contests. He brags about this total (Obama and Clinton each got more in 2008), but the fact is his voters account for about 10 percent of the total votes that will be cast in November. In other words, he has a long way to go in a general election.
Now that the contest is beyond “Celebrity Apprentice” and Twitter wars, now that voters are focusing on who will sit behind that Oval Office desk, and now that the day-to-day campaign is exposing Trump’s true beliefs, lack of knowledge, untruthful statements and scary temperament, we are in a whole new ball game. Those who believed that Trump was the Teflon candidate were dead wrong.
What appeared to be an invulnerable candidate in the winter and spring has turned into an unacceptable one for many voters. This has become a real choice between two candidates. It was inevitable that Trump would wilt under this pressure, that the power of the microscope would be turned up on his flaws, that his inability to act like a president would create unease, even among his supporters.
Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight now gives Trump only an 11 percent chance of winning; the Real Clear Politics average lead for Hillary Clinton is about 7 percent; Charlie Cook’s latest tally of Electoral Votes shows an extremely difficult path for Trump. Once he got the nomination, once the stakes were clear in this election, once the windows opened and voters could get a clear view of Trump, the veneer of his candidacy began to get peeled away.
Donald Trump, pure and simple, is an unacceptable candidate for president and any notion that he was a Teflon candidate who could say or do anything, or that nothing mattered, has been shattered. No one is Teflon, least of all Trump.
Once the light of day had been shone on this man, there was very little left to say. The bottom line: the words Trump and president should never be uttered in the same sentence.