If your candidate is losing his proverbial marbles, as Donald Trump is, you try to hide him from scrutiny as much as you can. Maybe you even randomly and falsely accuse the other guy of cognitive issues, as Trump’s campaign keeps doing. The trouble comes when you’re seven weeks from election day and your candidate is still eight points down in the polling averages, and so you have no choice but to put him out there and hope he doesn’t flounder.
That’s what brought us to last night’s ABC News town hall with Donald Trump. Many of the questions were harsh and angry, to the point that Trump’s babysitters will try to spin the whole thing as some kind of ambush. The reality is that the majority of Americans are simply pissed off at Trump over how poorly and dishonestly he’s handling things, and the town hall was a rare opportunity for them to tell Trump as much to his face.
There was the Trump 2016 voter with diabetes who now resents Trump for having created such an unsafe environment for him during the pandemic. There was Ellesia Blaque, who eloquently spelled out all that she’s accomplished in life in spite of her severe preexisting conditions, and asked Trump why he’s trying to take away her health care, and then flat out cut him off when he tried to interrupt her to answer.
But it’s not just that so many of the town hall participants were angry at Donald Trump. It’s that as these folks vented their frustrations, Trump sat there like a bump on a log and occasionally babbled about how great he’s been handling things. His performance was lifeless, clueless, and barely human. It was as if his lifelong psychopathy and worsening senility were fighting each other for a front row seat in front of the cameras.
At one point Donald Trump demanded to know why Joe Biden hasn’t instituted a nationwide mask mandate, as if Biden were the current President of the United States. That’s the second time in the past few days that Trump has implied that Biden is the current President. Is Trump so far gone that he actually believes this? Or is he merely so far gone that he’s incoherently botching beyond recognition whatever talking points he got for his handlers?
If Donald Trump’s performance under fire last night was an accurate measuring stick of where his cognitive abilities typically are on any given day, then he’s in no shape to make any additional unguarded public appearances for the rest of the campaign. He can’t do any more town halls, or he’ll embarrass himself further. He can’t do the debates, because he’ll get blown off the stage. And yet he has to do the town halls and debates, because he’s too far behind in the polls not to take the risk of doing them. What Trump faced last night is only the beginning.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report