Apart from his facial expressions, his sniffing, and his total lack of preparedness, Donald Trump made three big mistakes in last Monday’s debate: He called it good business to hope for a collapse of the housing market in 2007, he called himself smart because in at least a couple of years he didn’t pay taxes, and he walked straight into the trap Hillary Clinton set for him when she mentioned his sexist, racist and abusive behavior towards a former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado. Since the debate, Trump has not been able to let go of Ms. Machado, calling in to ‘Fox and Friends’ on Tuesday morning to discuss her weight gain, and at 3 am on Friday advising his followers to watch a sex tape she was supposed to have appeared in. During the days in between Trump and his surrogates accused Alicia Machado of having assisted in an attempted murder by her boyfriend. Ms. Machado, however, was never charged, and it turned out that the sex tape didn’t exist. It is mind-boggling why Donald Trump thinks that bringing up his fat-shaming of a woman will help him with the female vote, where he’s lacking, but it appears that he does.
Although Trump’s personality makes him prone to not only take any bait but devour it, there may be another, more ‘rational’ reason for his behavior. As long as the media devote all their attention to what Trump and Ms. Machado did in 1996 they don’t focus on his business dealings, his taxes and his foundation. A first article in Newsweek about the ‘Trump Organization’ showed how easily President Trump could be blackmailed by foreign agents, and a second article showed that Trump violated the Cuba embargo by spending a significant amount of money on the island in 1998. In between those articles the Washington Post revealed that since 2007 Trump operated his foundation entirely with other people’s money, which he used to buy a portrait of himself and a football helmet, and to settle legal cases brought against two of his companies. All of this is perfectly illegal, and to make things worse it turns out that the foundation was not certified to solicit charitable donations to begin with. Trump can run, but he cannot hide. The New York Attorney General is investigating his foundation, and soon the FBI will too.
Next for Trump is an attack on Hillary Clinton for the way she behaved towards her husband’s mistresses, which, implicitly, reminds the nation of Bill’s philandering. This effort is led by Trump, Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani, who, with nine wives between them, were all conducting public affairs with mistresses while married. Newt told one of his ex-wives of his intention to divorce her while she was recovering from cancer surgery, and Mayor Giuliani was thrown out of Gracie Mansion by his second wife.
Before he invests too much energy into this effort someone should tell Trump that women don’t have a lot of sympathy for their husband’s mistresses, and that this attack will probably help Hillary more with female voters than it will hurt her. Revelations that came out after the debate were that Trump has been accused of rape three times, once of a 13-year-old girl, and that he himself played a small part in a Playboy sex-video.
So Trump didn’t have a good week, to put it mildly, and it’s showing in the polls, but it may be too early to speak of a meltdown. In the press he is sometimes compared to Grigori Rasputin, who was poisoned and then shot before being thrown in the Neva River, but took a long time dying. We may see something similar taking place in Manhattan.