Donald Trump is on some kind of streak. For the third straight week, he just had the Worst Week in Washington. (I didn’t say it was a good streak!)
Trump’s big fail last week came in the third and final presidential debate, held Wednesday night in Las Vegas. Needing a big moment to change the course of an election that looks increasingly hopeless for him, Trump proved incapable, yet again, of pulling one off. Instead he made two major errors – both of which turned into story lines for the remainder of the week for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
The first was his refusal to say that he would concede the election if he loses, a break with roughly 240 years of peaceful transitions of power in the country. Trump’s cavalier “let’s just wait and see” attitude on the idea of conceding led every major news website in the country within minutes and was roundly condemned by lots and lots of Republicans.
Then there was Trump’s decision to interrupt Clinton to note that she is “such a nasty woman” – an interjection that turned into a rallying cry for women across the country within hours. Trump’s limp defense that “no one respects women more than I do,” which came after Clinton hammered him on his history of impolitic comments about women, didn’t help matters.
Trump, as he does, spent the next day insisting that he had won the debate – citing polls that, um, are not real polls. Then he returned to New York for the quadrennial Al Smith dinner, a gathering of political and media elites at which presidential candidates, traditionally, poke fun at themselves – a rare moment of bipartisan levity in the hurly-burly of the campaign.
Except this year. Trump seemed to miss the self-deprecating part of the evening – skipping right to attacks on alleged corruption involving Clinton. The crowd booed. “At charity roast, Donald Trump delivered what might as well be a campaign eulogy” was the headline of a Washington Post report about the event. Gut punch.
Then Trump put the cherry on top of his terrible week. At a much-touted speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Trump was expected to roll out plans for his first 100 days in office. Which he did, sort of. But in between that recitation of largely warmed-over proposals, he also pledged to sue every one of the women – 11 in total now – who have alleged that he made improper sexual advances on them over the past three decades.
Another disastrous week. And this one was even closer to the election. The only question now is whether Trump can break his streak of bad weeks before Nov. 8.