It’s become almost impossible to look at this race from any perspective other than: “Can you imagine this person as the actual President?”
The answer with Trump has been “no” for quite some time. Yet even with the terrible 48 hours he experienced following the release of his vulgar remarks, the opportunity existed for him to at least win a big campaign moment by delivering a very different kind of performance in the debate.
Trump actually survived the agonizing start – the harsh scolding from Hillary – and the necessary relentlessness from both moderators on his vulgarity and cavalier boasting of sexual assault. But when it was time to move on he simply could not break out of #TheDonald mode.
The prowling of the stage and the sniffling sounds and the frowns and furrowed brow and other various looks continued to betray a candidate with no self-control, and no ability to disguise his emotions – qualities that one does not value in a head of state.
As one colleague of mine put it: “It would be good to play poker with Donald Trump.”
The thumping defeat Trump suffered in the first debate outweighed the more subtle loss he sustained in the second. There was so very much he needed to do to even make a dent with a single voter who wasn’t already absolutely devoted to him. It was too big a hill to climb. He did little or nothing to win back the Republicans who have fled his cause like a listing ocean liner. And if he was able, perhaps, to stabilize his stalwart “base” – it’s with the knowledge that it won’t alone be enough to win the presidency.