Payback Trumps All

We’re all gonna need a shower after tonight. It’s been dirty. It’s been tawdry. It’s been lewd. But tonight, it gets worse.

Despite the longstanding theories surrounding a forthcoming “Trump News Network” and whether this candidacy was designed as a guerrilla marketing campaign or whether it simply morphed into that along the way, Trump knows that tonight is his last best shot. Not at saving his campaign and giving those last few Ken Bone-esque undecideds something of substance to vote for, but to say what he wants and have America listen. Trump is obsessed with ratings — he has been since The Apprentice — and throughout the primary he was using them as a yardstick measure of his dominance over his opponents and clout over the networks. He knows that these debates’ ratings are greater by orders of magnitude than his rallies’, rallies whose coverage and viewership is dwindling, despite attendance staying alarmingly high.
 
Aside from a concession speech at around 10PM EST three weeks from yesterday, it is uncertain whether he will ever get to speak to this many people again. Trump’s media empire is surely coming with Ailes and Bannon at the helm, Jones and Hannity hosting, and the Donald himself as special guest number one. But it is still an unknown, and given Trump’s track record with businesses outside of real estate, the obscurity to which failed presidential candidates are generally resigned, the changing nature of media and how it is consumed, Trump News could very easily flop.
 
Trump has plenty of ammo if he wants to stay on message. The recent Wikileaks releases look bad for Clinton and they will surely be brought up by moderator Chris Wallace. But Trump has had trouble with the whole “on message” thing this week and continues to retreat into cryptic alt-right theories that can usually be summed up by “something’s going on, folks.” The seeds of doubt that have long been planted in the Trump base are getting Trump brand water and glorious orange sunshine as conspiracy upon conspiracy is surfacing from the campaign. From the conventional (media is out to get him, Hillary is corrupt) to the bizzare (Obama’s Kenyan brother-in-law?, HRC using debate enhancing drugs…sad!) to the flat out desperate (a new Bill Clinton accuser from 1978).

Under normal circumstances Trump could benefit from the fact that tonight’s is the first ever presidential debate with a Fox News moderator, but the Republicans don’t have much to be pleased with Trump about either. His “rigged” narrative peculiarly involves Republican congressional leadership and isn’t sitting well with any republican up for re-election. While explaining in his Florida senatorial debate that it would be impossible to rig an election in all of Florida’s 67 counties, Marco Rubio was visibly disturbed. And he should be considering he’s in a race where he’s leading by 2 points he has the top of his own party’s ticket essentially telling his base that their vote doesn’t matter.
 
But come on…downballot?? Does anyone even read past ‘Trump’?? This is bigger than congressional majorities or party affiliation or governance. This is about payback. Mr. Trump’s last opportunity to go after everyone who has mocked him, goaded him, laughed at him, accused him, or dismissed him. It’s a long list — probably kept in gold sharpie on Trump Tower stationery. Obama will get it for the White House Correspondent’s Dinner…you know the one that happened SEVEN YEARS AGO. The media will get it for their disrespectful demands of accountability. House Republicans will get it for their disloyalty and complicity. His growing list of sexual assault accusers will get it for not much more than being born women. And of course, Hillary Clinton will get it for her disgraceful campaign of lies, her condescension to Trump from day one, and most of all her audacity to turn Donald Trump into what he hates the most — a loser.

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