While a minor example, Melania Trump’s plagiarized speech is an illustration of an inept, understaffed campaign run by a lazy con artist:
Plagiarism offers a window into a different aspect of Trump, one that isn’t integral to his appeal. Trump is a phony. And a lazy one at that. He refuses to put in the work, and if he becomes president the consequences are likely to be disastrous and unpredictable.
Just ask his wife who stood up on a nationally broadcast primetime telecast to vouch for his integrity and decency, and turns out to have been set up for humiliation because Trump couldn’t be bothered to build the kind of professional presidential campaign that would equip Melania Trump with a decent speech.
Once upon a time, Donald Trump was a real estate developer. Then he launched an airline, launched some casinos, turns out to have mismanaged his interest rate risk, and ended up losing nearly all of it.
He emerged from bankruptcy insufficiently creditworthy to get the kind of bank loans he would need to keep doing major real estate projects. But one of the quirks of his old failed businesses was his habit of slapping the name TRUMP on everything, so he had a much stronger brand nationally and globally than other objectively more successful New York real estate guys.
So he started licensing the brand hither and yon.
Steaks, wine, water, a fake university — even the food at the Trump Café is bad. Alongside the Trump University scam he had a second scam called the Trump Institute where the lessons were plagiarized. He also runs golf courses and they seem to be a scam too. He opened his first Scottish course amid great fanfare and many broken promises.
This could all be wicked fun, like a Mamet play from back when Mamet was still in possession of some measure of his talent. But there’s nothing funny about Trump’s political success:
But what is going to last beyond Election Day — whether Trump wins or loses — is the conviction, shared by a deep swath of the American population, that all unauthorized immigrants are (potentially dangerous) criminals; that Muslims, no matter where they were born, are not to be trusted; that it is important to declare that the lives of police officers matter but that to declare that the lives of the African-Americans those officers stop matter is an unacceptably radical and potentially terroristic act.
Those attitudes were on full and ugly display on night one of the convention. They were at the heart of the message of the first night of the Republican National Convention: “Make America Safe Again.” If Donald Trump wins in November, those principles will be enshrined in policy. But whether he wins or loses, they have been established as acceptable things to say in political discourse, and everyday life, to an extent that was not the case when he launched his campaign a year ago.
The Upshot has Hillary Clinton with a 76% chance to win, Wang between 65-80%, 538 62%. I would guess this range underestimates Clinton’s chances, because the models can’t account for Trump’s unusually unprofessional campaign. But, as Paul had said more than once, even something like a 10%-20% chance of a catastrophe is still pretty terrifying.