To borrow from Marco Rubio, let’s dispel with the notion that Donald Trump’s possible plateauing—and the concomitant coalescing of the anti-Trump vote—is due to his suddenly becoming more unhinged. Yes, last week saw Trump take at least five different positions on the right-to-life issue, saw his thuggish campaign manager get charged with assaulting a female reporter, and saw the continued fallout of his sophomoric playground bullying of the lovely Heidi Cruz. But so what? This is a man who literally launched his demagogic campaign last June with a vitriolic tirade against Mexican rapists, continued in July by scurrilously doubting John McCain’s war hero bona fides, and in August accused Megyn Kelly of menstruating during the first televised debate. I was there at the RedState Gathering when Erick had to disinvite Trump due to the lattermost comments, and I remember it well.
The Trump campaign has been a substance-less carnival act since day one. There is nothing at all new here under the sun, says Ecclesiastes.
A more viable theory is that of sheer media overexposure. Flashy, shiny new objects have a way of dulling over time, and the same might be said about the Trump appeal. Trump’s “mammoth advantage” in free media—which has included almost all the ratings-hungry networks bending the normal rules to allow him to “phone in” interviews from his cushy Fifth Avenue Trump Tower playpen—may finally be catching up to him. The sheer insanity of this clown car spectacle may finally be starting to wear on voters. It doesn’t help that the mainstream media, whose showers of free media have been complicit in the catastrophically unfavorably viewed Trump’s rise, have more recently shifted from “abet Trump” to “protect Hillary” mode—thus turning on the very monster they helped create.
With few exceptions for extraordinarily gifted rhetoricians and messengers—Ronald Reagan, and to a lesser extent, Bill Clinton, come to mind—media overexposure tends to breed contempt. As a friend texted me last night, we have now essentially lived through eight years of a Trump presidency in only eight months, and we are now already as tired of him as we are of Barack Obama. That the ceiling to Trump’s support is now starting to solidify, and that the anti-Trump force are finally showing signs of unification, is less due to him now finally crossing some imagined “line” (remember when he literally went Code Pink at the South Carolina debate?), but instead due to his shtick finally getting old.
When you have a vile, mean-spirited, violence-inculcating candidate who is also willfully ignorant on all areas of law or policy, rationality—not to mention an abiding faith in the American electorate—demands that it must only be a matter of time before the cracks start to emerge. The Donald’s incredible free media spectacle may have finally reached the point of diminishing marginal returns.