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Trump is Finished…Until He Isn’t

08.02.16 12:17 PM – Andy McDonald
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Boy, Donald Trump really did it this time, pundits say.
In getting into a bilious Twitter brawl with the Muslim parents of a dead American soldier, the Donald has finally done what the political experts have been saying he would do all along: He just couldn’t help flapping his gums until he talked himself right out of the election, according to the conventional wisdom.

Donald J. Trump is finished alright….until he isn’t.
The fact that most politicos are overlooking is the fact that Donald Trump is the hedgehog to Hillary Clinton’s fox. Hillary Clinton knows many things, but Trump knows one important thing that allowed him to slay the entire Republican primary field. To paraphrase Clinton operatives of 1992, it’s domestic security, stupid.

If this was any other election year, Donald Trump wouldn’t even be within shouting distance of Hillary Clinton. She’d be cruising around the country, kissing babies, playing it safe, and sitting on a 20-point lead. But Hillary Clinton’s problem is that she’s not just running against Donald Trump, she’s also running against the global terrorist movement called ISIS, which is all too happy to deliver attacks that can change the national political dialogue in an instant.

For the moment, moderate Republican strategists are dancing on Trump’s political grave, asserting that he has been drawn inexorably into another tasteless and ill-advised public tantrum that proves he lacks the temperament to be president of the United States. Voters will never pull the lever for that vulgarian now, they say.

That calculation might just be true as long as there is not another shocking terrorist attack. If there is another mass killing in the name of radical Islam, however, Hillary Clinton will be inclined to follow the Obama playbook, talking around the periphery of a tragedy, trying to make it about the need for more gun control and generally calling for an end to the hate while avoiding referring to said attack as radical Islamic terrorism. That will open the door for Trump, because it gives new life to his argument that the current administration is more concerned about political correctness than insuring the security of ordinary Americans, and that he’s the only guy who has the guts to stand up to terrorism.

If terrorism experts are correct, agents of ISIS will be pulling for Trump to become president because he elevates their efforts to the level of a global threat, the credibility of which will facilitate their campaign to bring about a final showdown with the West. ISIS is about promoting fear, and it just so happens that Trump is all too willing to capitalize on that fear if it will help him win the presidency. There will likely be more attacks between now and Election Day, and that will play to the strongest case Trump has made for himself. When that happens, the pundits will be left scratching their heads again, wondering how, after all the outrageous things Trump has said, he could possibly have a chance to win the presidency.

They’ve already forgotten that Trump’s two main issues, immigration and radical Islamic terrorism, helped the billionaire reality TV star leave a trail of well-funded, better organized, vastly better informed Republican candidates in his wake, and those two issues just may come through for him again against Hillary Clinton come November.

Back when Hillary Clinton’s husband was running for president in 1992, the Clinton campaign captured America’s choice in a single catchphrase that Bush operatives could not counter: Change, or more of the same. Bush operatives were counting on the fact that George H.W. Bush’s superior experience was self-evident, and that voters would choose accordingly. It didn’t work out that way. Voters made a gut decision and chose change over experience.

On the issue of radical Islamic terrorism, if Hillary Clinton plays it safe and leans toward more of the same, and if more terrorist attacks occur, it will keep Donald Trump in the game. She has superior experience, but when it comes to domestic security, she has to worry that voters might just be inclined to make a visceral choice. If it comes down to who will be tougher in the area of domestic and national security, voters may be inclined to pick what they perceive is a chance for change.

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