Really, this couldn’t have happened to a nicer, more decent guy

What has happened to Donald Trump in this political campaign could not have happened to a nicer, more decent human being. I mean that literally, and with the utmost sincerity.

Not so long ago, remember, Republicans were boasting that they couldn’t wait until the presidential debates finally arrived and Trump faced off against Hillary Clinton in front of the American people. They believed that once on the same stage, their designated alpha male, the man who had dominated “the deepest GOP field in history,” would force the sickly, frail, “no stamina” Clinton to melt under an unrelenting 90-minute assault.

Benghazi, emails, Vince Foster … finally, she would have to answer for everything that the right-wing hated about her. Before the first debate back on Sept, 26, Newt Gingrich even went so far as to call Trump the best debater he had ever seen, a veritable “Babe Ruth of debating.”

From there, it got humiliating. That first debate went horribly for Trump, yet the sycophantic Gingrich somehow called it an “enormous, historic victory” for the GOP nominee, concluding that “the Intellectual Yet Idiot class is so out of touch with America that they don’t even realize how badly they are doing and how well Trump is doing.”

Newt was right … kinda. The Intellectual Yet Idiot class that he himself epitomizes was indeed out of touch with America, because Trump not only lost that debate badly, it marked the beginning of the near-total collapse of his campaign.

Before that “enormous, historic” debate victory, Trump had closed the race to within a couple of percentage points. The two national polls released Monday, just three weeks later, put the current margin at 12 points and 11 points.

There’s a pattern at work here. As long as Republicans are able to gin up their outrage machine against Clinton, pushing a cartoon image of the Democratic nominee, they do OK. But when Clinton herself appears before the American people — at the televised, marathon Benghazi hearing in which she coolly dismantled her Republican accusers, at the Democratic convention, and now in the debates — that cartoon image becomes harder to sustain.

As Politico warns, the current polling numbers put Trump at 38 to 40 percent of the electorate, “perilously close to a historic rebuke from American voters for a major-party candidate.” (Barry Goldwater got 38.5 percent; George McGovern got 37.5 percent.) Arizona is in play. Utah may be in play. Possibly even Georgia. It’s also worth noting that a Trump defeat by any margin would be the sixth time in the last seven presidential cycles in which the GOP lost the popular vote.

And already, the post-defeat civil war within the Republican Party is beginning to take shape. Sean Hannity has gone into perpetual whine mode about Paul Ryan and the GOP establishment stabbing Trump in the back and costing him the election. “Win lose or draw, we need a long conversation about whether he should be speaker of the House,” Hannity says.

And at Breitbart, former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo is complaining about “overt sabotage” and “treason” by GOP leaders, predicting that “Whether successful or not in denying Trump a victory on Nov. 8, it undoubtedly is the opening shot in a civil war that will erupt full scale on Nov. 9.”

Meanwhile, we have one more debate to endure.

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