Trump Time Capsule #17: ‘30 Ways He Is Committing Political Suicide’

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.
Republican Senator Mark Kirk, in a difficult race for re-election to the seat Barack Obama once held in Illinois, announcing today that he was withdrawing his support for Trump.

#17, June 7, 2016. ‘30 Ways Trump is Committing Political Suicide’

As I was about to push “publish” on this item, news arrived of a significant official defection from Team Trump. Republican Senator Mark Kirk, in a very difficult race for re-election in Illinois, withdrew his endorsement of Trump and said he “cannot and will not” support him. His rationale could have been taken straight from Hillary Clinton’s speech last week. Ie, that Trump was temperamentally unsuited to control the nuclear arsenal and unfit for the job. Hmmm.

Meanwhile: the title of this item is taken from a column in The Hill today by John LeBoutillier, a former Republican congressman. LeBoutillier was famous in the early Reagan era as the youngest person elected to Congress in the Reagan wave of 1980 — he was 27 then. He lost after one term, via re-districting, but he stayed active as a commentator, broadcaster, and writer. He was an early version of the “thoughtful young reform Republican” — a type that reached its most genuine and admirable form with Jack Kemp, and that Paul Ryan obviously has been aiming for.

Today LeBoutillier offers a kind of time capsule of his own, with a list of the things Donald Trump is doing that no viable candidate could or would do. It’s worth reading in full, but it builds to this:

20. Trump does not talk to anyone; nor does he listen.

21. Instead, he watches TV and then criticizes anyone who dares to critique him.

22. The case of Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the judge handling the Trump University case, has thrown all these other GOP candidates into a sense of panic. […]

25. You will start to read leaks of Republicans musing that “we are committing political suicide if we keep going down this road.” … [And “pledged” delegates might look for ways to bail out.]

29. It is also possible that he will figure out that things are not working, and will self-correct; if so, he will indeed be officially nominated on July 21.

30. With six weeks to go until the GOP convention in Cleveland, it is up to Donald Trump: He must either pull himself together and lead the Republican Party in a responsible manner, or else be prepared to have a major mutiny on his hands.  

Again this is offered as real-time evidence of how, when, and why the GOP is processing emerging knowledge of the man it has been preparing to support. At the moment, this looks bad for Trump. So if he does manage to come, items like this will be markers of how big a hole he managed to get out of.


After the jump, a pop-culture version of the “ways he is committing suicide” analysis, from Seth Meyers.

More analysis of this spot on Salon.