I suspect whole platoons of NYT editors descended into head-scratching palsy when their Saturday edition sported the above-the-fold headline, "Supporters Rally Around Trump in Spite of Reversals," just as Politico was more perceptively blaring, "Trump's base turns on him." The juxtaposition was both jarring and immensely amusing — the latter even more so this morning. For within 48 hours, the Times has traveled from Trump supporters rallying around him to "Wonder[ing] When the 'Winning' Will Start."
Wondering isn't rallying. Neither is it a sign of mass defections in progress, of course. "Wondering" is, however, a germ of disillusionment that seems to be working its way to a rampant, delightful disease of antipathy. The Times's lead quote, from a former Trump supporter in a "swing county of a swing region of a swing state" — Bucks County, Pa. — portends the sweeping defections: Trump is "just like any other damn president," said Theresa Remington, who's already had enough of her man's con artistry and "political bluster."
Not quite joining Ms. Remington in her disgust but sympathetically sidling toward her are Trump supporters who "wonder why his deal-making" is going nowhere, who are "baffled by his tweets," who "suggest gently" that Veep Pence is the only competent one between the two, and, "perhaps most forcefully," are far from being "sick and tired" of winning.
Among Trump's endless string of empty campaign promises, that of endless "winning" is already haunting him, here and there, through its emotionally deflating gut punch of Baghdad Bobism. Trump is closing in on 100 days of uninterrupted failures, and there's just no way to hide that from any but the most epistemically closed down. Hence the haunting and gut-punching will spread beyond the purple ill majesties of Trump-deluded congressional districts.
In fact it already has. "Across the country," notes the Times, "Republican officials have grown anxious at their standing on even ruby-red turf." Kansas's 4th C.D. election last week was indeed a 7-point squeaker, considering that Trump had won the district by a whopping 27. And as Nate Silver observes of Georgia's special election tomorrow to replace the ultraconservative Tom Price: "If the polls are right, then Democrat Jon Ossoff will receive by far the most votes." The combined conservative vote in a runoff could put an end to Ossoff's ascendence; but still, a Democrat is, for now, leading in a bastion of Trumpism.
Thus does it seem that, however clichéd this may be, the writing is on the wall. And for the GOP it is scrawled in blood: Not only are Trump and Trumpism doomed, both are taking their party down with them.
I'd be less giddy at this somewhat conspicuous development if I thought Trump capable of agreeable change. But after his 70 years of unremitting contemptibility, that's a (happily) difficult thought to conjure.