Donald Trump has become so desperate for the oxygen flow of media attention, he managed to wear out his welcome on Rush Limbaugh’s talk radio show. Two hours into yet another Trump smorgasbord of grievance and victimhood on Friday, even Limbaugh couldn’t take anymore.
“I know you’ve got a jam-packed day left on your schedule,” Limbaugh offered, as he prepared to pull the plug on the interview.
The day before, Trump called had into Fox News to grouse about his attorney general Bill Barr failing to indict Barack Obama and Joe Biden for crimes he couldn’t explain. “I won’t forget it,” Trump promised. During his Limbaugh extravaganza, Trump lashed out about the fact that Barr doesn’t plan on dropping his much-anticipated report about the origins of the Russia investigation until after the election. “I think it’s a disgrace. It’s an embarrassment,” Trump said of Barr’s failure to deliver a totally bogus October surprise that he hoped would give him a political lifeline.
Trump also engaged in some good old-fashioned diplomacy with Iran during his Limbaugh rant. “If you fuck around with us, if you do something bad to us, we are gonna do things to you that have never been done before,” Trump offered.
In case you hadn’t figured it out, after being locked in his residence for all of four days since his glorious return from Walter Reed Medical Center, Trump is going stir crazy. Congrats, Trump—welcome to the nightmare the rest of America has been living for over half a year based on your ceaselessly incompetent stewardship of the pandemic.
But Trump haranguing conservative propaganda outlets wasn’t the only sign of his distress. On Tuesday, Trump abruptly killed coronavirus relief talks, then later that day offered a list of new demands for a deal, and by Friday he was urgently pushing a supposedly “bigger” deal than either Democrats or Republicans wanted (actually, Democrats latest bid of $2.2 trillion is still bigger than Trump’s $1.8 trillion push).
Trump’s campaign plans were equally erratic. On Thursday, Trump was planning a campaign rally in Pennsylvania; by Friday, it was cancelled. Then came a head-spinning announcement on Friday, for an in-person event Saturday at the White House. Oh, and late Friday a Florida rally was added for Monday. (Apologies in advance for any sudden scheduling changes between the time of this writing on Saturday.) According to his administration’s own public health guidelines, Trump should be isolating until Oct. 21.
And even as Trump resumes in-person campaigning, the White House has spent more than a week stonewalling on the question of when Trump last tested negative for coronavirus—a sure sign that hasn’t happened. “The president can get out there without transmitting the virus and that’s what we’re going to do,” White House spokesperson Brian Morgenstern offered Friday morning, after MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson valiantly cross-examined him for a handful of minutes on the topic of Trump’s last negative test.
Their position, as explained by Morgenstern, is that knowing Trump’s status has no “public health value” in terms of tracking transmission and therefore isn’t relevant. Scout’s honor, that’s what he said in the interview with Jackson. Perhaps the White House figures there’s no need to bother disclosing Trump’s status since they are declining to do any contact tracing following the Amy Coney Barrett superspreader event that now claims a connection to some two dozen coronavirus cases and counting.
Of course, the White House’s failure to share any relevant details about Trump’s health and the progression of his infection should be disqualifying for any candidate seeking reelection. If people plan on casting a vote for a candidate, it’s a pretty simple proposition that they should have the benefit of knowing how likely that candidate is to live or die, and whether they’re being a faithful steward of the oath they took to protect and defend the American people.
Trump is both losing it and losing. His polling is in the tanker both nationally (Biden +10) and at the state level. Trump’s campaign has nearly abandoned the Midwest (pulling ads in Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) in order to salvage the Sunbelt (boosting spending in Arizona, Florida, and Georgia). It’s gotten so bad that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has thrown his own caucus under the bus on the way to securing a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court. Sure, many Senate Republicans not up for reelection are reluctant to vote through more relief spending, but vulnerable Republicans are publicly begging for the stimulus Trump is now pushing.
“Spoke to @POTUS and relayed to him what I’ve heard from folks across the state: Iowans need additional COVID-19 relief,” endangered Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa tweeted Friday. “I’m hopeful Congress can come together once again — Rs and Ds — and provide more support to hardworking Americans.” Sorry, sister, McConnell’s moved on.
All of this is a very long way of saying, the worse Trump is doing, the more he is disintegrating before our very eyes. Still, none of his fantastical melodrama seems to be having much effect, if any, on where the presidential race stands. In a survey conducted Oct. 2-5, almost entirely during Trump’s stay at Walter Reed, Civiqs asked respondents if any of the events in recent weeks had changed their minds about who they planned to vote for. Nope.
- I was going to vote for Biden, and I still am: 46%
- I was going to vote for Trump, and I still am: 40%
- I was going to vote for Biden, but I am reconsidering: 1%
- I was going to vote for Trump, but I am reconsidering: 1%
- I was going to vote for Biden, but I have changed my mind: 1%
- I was going to vote for Trump, but I have changed my mind: 1%
- I already voted: 4%
- I am not going to vote: 1%
- Unsure: 5%
The overall takeaway of that response is exactly what many analysts have been saying for weeks: The cake is baked. The race is fundamentally stable, has been for a while, and will most likely continue to be. And that is very good news for both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris—who turned in a very strong debate performance this week that probably won’t change much, but certainly didn’t hurt the Democratic ticket.
So while we can expect the presidential race to remain pretty stable over the next few weeks, we can also expect more helter-skelter news cycles as Trump continues to unravel. Trump lost another court battle this week to shield his tax returns from the Manhattan DA in a case that is surely headed to the Supreme Court now. Trump’s son Eric Trump was also deposed Monday in the New York attorney general’s investigation into the Trump Organization’s finances. Senate Republicans’ win-at-all-costs bid to confirm Barrett to the high court will be predictably insane. And the coronavirus is still ravaging the country, even as it pulses through the upper echelons of the Trump administration and federal government.
So remember, while these next few weeks promise to be harrowing, they are mostly theater at this point with respect to the presidential race. The only thing that really matters is voting and turning out others to vote to deliver the most stinging rebuke in history to a Republican Party that turned its back on its oath, and on the American people.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.