Beginning to look that way:
Apparently the Trump campaign is hosting a press call this afternoon regarding the Commission on Presidential Debates, which could well be a prelude to officially backing out:
Here I want to revisit something I speculated about back in April:
Submitted for your approval: If September rolls around he’s down by 12 points to Biden, I can see him simply quitting before he’s fired, like he once did with The Apprentice and countless other ventures. He’ll pardon himself and the people who can implicate him most egregiously, he’ll grab everything that isn’t nailed down, and he’ll run away. (In this scenario, he announces that’s he’s already accomplished far more than any other president, the election is being rigged by the Deep State and the media, walking away is really the biggest victory anyone has ever won because no one has ever faced what he’s overcome already, the American people don’t really deserve him anyway, etc. etc.)
If this seems unimaginable, remember that this is a man who has no conception of what the presidency actually is. For him, it’s just another reality TV show gig, just another “deal,” just another increasingly burdensome and boring relationship that he wants to escape. Words like honor and duty are incomprehensible to him (I mean this quite literally).
Again, I’m not saying this will happen: I’m saying if it does happen, it will of course be shocking — but it should not be in any way surprising. At the core of the void where his soul is supposed to be, Trump is a quitter. It’s one of the most fundamental things about him. And if he does quit the presidency of the United States, he’ll do it in exactly the same way he has quit everything else in the vast wasteland that is his life story: in an outburst of narcissistic impulsiveness, that will make a toddler grabbing a handful of Oreos look like a monument to Aristotelian reflection.
. . . Nick never Nick points out that if Trump does it, he’s likely to do it at the moment that does maximum damage to his followers in particular and the GOP in general (As Scott has noted several times, one of Trump’s strongest and most consistent impulses is to screw over his most loyal and obsequious allies in the cruelest way possible):
I think the one thing Paul forgets to mention is that Trump, historically, destroys his partners and supporters. When things are good, he just screws up his competitors (Democrats, voters, America); but when times are bad, you don’t want to be in Lifeboat Trump, because there isn’t enough water for both you and Trump.
That’s where the GOP is now.
I’d put the odds of him quitting before November 3rd at 5%, and the odds of him quitting between November 3rd and January 20th at much, much higher than that.
The walking away from more debates, if that’s what he does, will be a sign either that he’s totally delusional about his actual situation — a candidate who is clearly trailing needs to do everything possible to change the status quo — or that he’s at least beginning to think about bailing altogether. (Of course there’s a lot of evidence that Trump IS just another old white man locked into the Fox News bubble, i.e., he may well be totally delusional about his situation at this point).
Basically nothing this guy does in the next 33 or 112 days could surprise me.
Well that’s not quite true: if he becomes president of the United States on one of those days that really would be surprising, although Dana Bash and Van Jones will let us know that they’ve been expecting that to happen all along. (“Today Donald Trump demonstrated that, despite all his flaws, real or perceived, he is capable of genuine statesmanship. Like Charles II, nothing in his presidency became it like his leaving it.”)