Politics & Policy

After Wisconsin, Is Donald Trump Unraveling?

Trump speaks at a campaign stop in Wauwatosa, Wisc. (Scott Olson/Getty)
As usual, the Donald has misplayed his cards.

Donald Trump is a loser.

Trump’s huge loss in Wisconsin, combined with his drop in national polling, fits his career-long pattern perfectly. In a large number of Trump enterprises, the initial rollout is breathtaking, with Trump’s unique brand drawing attention from investors and consumers — only for it all to fizzle, or even implode, once the time finally comes for substance to replace sizzle.

The litany of Trump’s business failures is by now well-established among those who pay attention, although it’s not clear how thoroughly it has been understood by the voting public. Trump’s “university,” his steaks, his vodka, his airline, his pro football team, his water, his magazine, his mortgage company, his “Success” cologne, and, of course, four iterations of his casino-related businesses have all gone belly-up and/or been discontinued. Many of them, and even his vaunted hotels, have been savaged by consumer online reviews.

And in all of this, it often (or usually) has been the proverbial Ordinary Joe who has been left holding the medicine bag for Trump’s snake oil. The very workers and vendors for whom Trump pretends to speak are the people he has treated the worst.

Again, this record is clear for all who don’t intentionally blind themselves to it. What’s new here is the evidence that Trump’s political trajectory is mirroring his dreadful record in almost every business undertaking besides his personal branding and reality-TV stint. If upcoming primaries continue the trend (Trump has won no more than seven of the most recent 103 available delegates), it will further demonstrate that Trump is like histrionic baseball pitchers known for big wind-ups but powder-puff deliveries.

RELATED: The Anatomy of a Trump Defeat

Trump’s repeated problem is that he’s not actually very good at the details, and he doesn’t build stable organizations around good people. (See, e.g., the chief executive at Trump Mortgage who was advertised by the company as a “top executive at one of Wall Street’s most prestigious investment banks” but whose prior experience actually amounted to what the Washington Post described as “just six months” as a stockbroker for Dean Witter Reynolds.)

Thus, it is no wonder that news reports suddenly are describing Trump’s campaign as being in “disarray,” poorly staffed, and seriously lacking not just in organizational muscle but even in understanding the organizational requirements for selecting delegates. If past is prologue, Trump will continue his propensity to create a lot of covering smoke for his growing disasters.

#share#First he’ll complain that everybody is being unfair to him, or that the lay of the land was unexpectedly and uniquely tough for him in ways nobody could have anticipated. Then he’ll invent ever-more-ludicrous, but ever-more-entertaining, scapegoats. Finally, he’ll scurry away, or re-brand his enterprise, while leaving behind a slew of improvised explosive devices in the form of lawsuits (or at least threatened legal action).

Before he does, though, he’ll make one big final effort to save his scalp. His gambit so far has been to hire an insider’s insider, ethically suspect and with a checkered success rate, to do the detail work for his campaign that heretofore has been so nearly nonexistent. Paul Manafort, Trump’s new hired-gun delegate hunter, is no conservative, and no wonder-worker. (He also once stipulated for the record that he actually saw one of his jobs as one that could be called an “influence peddler.”)

EDITORIAL: Cruz’s Big Win in Wisconsin

Sure, Manafort was part of a successful effort to block Ronald Reagan from the Republican presidential nomination in 1976 (Boo! Hiss!), but that wasn’t a tremendously heavy lift considering that he entered the 1976 convention as a delegate hunter for Ford with a 100-delegate lead and the power and perks of the White House behind him, not to mention the strategic brain power of the famously competent James Baker directing his efforts.

In 1986, Manafort was part of the consultant team whose ineptness was blamed by many conservatives (myself among them) for costing Republicans their six-year control of the Senate by insisting on cookie-cutter, negative-ad-heavy, grassroots-volunteer-eschewing strategies in what turned out to be a series of agonizingly close losses.

#related#And — perfectly in tune with the Putin-loving Trump — Manafort accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars to do the bidding of the thuggish Putin puppet Viktor Yanukovych against more West-friendly leaders in Ukraine. This is very much part of Trump’s modus operandi: When in doubt, hire the heavy.

But this is what losers do: They talk big, fail to produce the right results, lay blame, and then hire fixers and lawyers to bail them out or cover their tracks.

In terms of Trump’s pursuit of the presidency, it all will fail, sooner or later. When the late-night comedians shift from poking fun at Trump’s hair or bravado to lampooning his loser-ness instead, the tycoon will be toast.

The only question is whether conservatives will succeed in taking Trump down soon enough that he won’t bring our cause and country down with him.


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