Less than twenty-four hours after the Washington Post published a video indicating you wouldn’t want your wife or daughter anywhere near Donald Trump in a singles bar eleven years ago, The Donald’s presidential campaign is in very serious trouble. As I write this I think DT may be the single most hated living person in the history of mankind. Hitler was a bad dude, no doubt, but while he was alive he was mostly just that crazy German with the funny mustache who led a country we were at war with. The crime that justifiably cemented his place as history’s most horrific monster — the Holocaust — wasn’t known to most people until after he supposedly offed himself.
All that said, Trump can still win the 2016 presidential election. His path is a very narrow one, however, and he better get started on it at Sunday night’s debate:
1. He needs to own — but not apologize for — his 2005 comments. If I were him I’d say something like this. “I am embarrassed by those 2005 comments. Not because I didn’t make them — I obviously did. And not because, like at least one other older gentleman in this room, I didn’t act boorishly toward women from time to time back then. I am embarrassed about them — and regret making them — because they do not reflect who I am as a man now. I won’t apologize for my comments — this was a private conversation with one other person that I didn’t know was being secretly taped, and if we all had to apologize to everyone for every bad thing we ever said in private conversations that’s all we’d be doing. All I can say is that I stand before you, embarrassed.”
2. He needs to equalize, or at least close the gap on, the character question. Something like this. “I’m not perfect. The Clintons aren’t either. Former President Clinton’s way with the ladies while married was — and remains — well known. Books have been written about what Hillary did to Bill’s accusers — all because of her personal ambition (remember what Colin Powell said about her “unbridled ambition” in a private e-mail — I’ll while calling her “friend”?). Books, too, have been written about how she treats people she thinks are beneath her — and I’ve witnessed it first hand. To their credit, President Clinton’s ways with the ladies did not translate into anti-women policies; his administration did pass the Family Medical Leave Act and, if elected president, I would build on that. But the truth is that if you were voting for a “Character in Chief,” you might just stay home.”
But you are not voting for a Character in Chief. You are voting for president of the United States — the operative part of that being “of the United States.”
Which brings me to my third and final point.
3. He needs to reframe the question to two words — “open borders.” At this point Trump cannot win with the standard issues. He can’t insist, for example, that his economic plan is “jobs, jobs, jobs,” as he did earlier this week. Hillary is for jobs, too. He can’t win with lower taxes because that’ll be derided in the media as “trickle down.” He has to do what he should have done a long time ago — frame the debate as one of “country” and specifically one without open borders. Something like this: “I understand many people hate me for lots of reasons, not the least of which are those private comments I made in 2005. But when you cast your vote, don’t be distracted: don’t forget that the nation, at least as we know it now, may be at stake. I want to significantly tighten up border security and focus on Americans first. Secretary Clinton wants open borders — something we just learned she said she”dreamed” of in a speech before a Brazilian bank in 2013. She wouldn’t be the only one in the First Bed who thinks that: Bill Clinton has said that America “has great obligations to open our borders” and that establishing a “genuine global community”—complete with an “over-arching system” to regulate it— is the “the great mission of the 21st century.” In other words, Hillary Clinton is not for America first, she is for globe first. She wants to resettle hundreds of thousands of Muslim immigrants not because it would be good for America, but because it would be good for them. If you elect her, you and your children won’t be more safe with her open borders. And don’t be surprised if, within a generation or so, the United States as we know it ceases to exist.”
“Think I’m crazy? Remember: things happen very fast nowadays. Eight years ago opposition to gay marriage was well and fine. A few years later it was “let’s leave it to the states.” Nowadays if you voice any opposition to gay marriage it’s all but hate speech. Remember when three words together “all lives matter” was a sensible proposition? That’s basically hate speech, too. Remember the days when shooting police was the worst thing a person could do? Me, too, because it wasn’t that long ago. Now we’re told we need to understand why people would do such a thing. The country is changing fast, folks, and if you’re not careful, with your vote you can change it right out of existence.”
I’m not optimistic that The Donald can pull this off. He’ll be facing a less-than-moderate moderator, in front of an audience that’ll be hostile (if he’s lucky), coming off 48 of the toughest hours of his life. He needs to do all this without blaming a wildly unfair media. And he’ll need to come off as folksy and contrite, neither of which I’ve seen yet. Still, the path is there. If he doesn’t find it fast, one or more members of a very-much-less-safe Jenkins family may one day pay for it with their lives.
We won’t be the only ones.