The basic story is this: CNN reports that Donald Trump broke debate rules by constantly reaching for the intellectual and political support of Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski during the Fox debate’s commercial breaks. The other candidates, being emotionally stable adults who don’t need mobile woobies, were of course functioning without a constant stream of advice. And while the aforementioned adults in the room took the opportunity to note that they no longer felt obligated to follow the rule that Trump had just frantically broken, you get the feeling that it was mostly a pro forma gesture. After all, no amount of Lewandowski’s regurgitation of talking points into Trump’s quivering, wattle-marked beak could stop Trump from still being a blithering idiot in Thursday’s Fox debate.
But let us be clear about what the actual implications of this are. Will it affect today’s election results? Don’t be absurd. I didn’t know about this rule before five minutes ago, and neither did you, and neither did the Republican electorate (and they may still never really hear about this story). What it does do, however, is provide more confirmation of the distressing fact that the current Republican front-runner would be the weakest, most feckless, and simply incompetent general election candidate in my lifetime. Yes, I know Trump’s winning plurality decisions in primary/caucus states. Trust me: his most loyal Internet supporters care about literally nothing else. But the man cheated, yet still lost that debate so badly that his campaign had to shamefacedly correct Trump twice: once on Trump’s inexplicable double-back on his ‘core issue’ of illegal immigration, and once on whether Trump is an out-and-out fascist. If you can’t win even when you cheat, how do you expect to win a general election against the Democratic party, which has one of the finest collection of political cheaters that the world has ever seen?
Spoiler warning: you don’t.
Via @jpodhoretz, who later asked why Fox News didn’t break this story first. …What an interesting question. Why, indeed.
PS: We will now pause while Trump supporters desperately try to find past examples of an actual Republican doing something similar. But Trump still lost, even though he cheated. Or even a Democrat. But Trump still lost, even though he cheated. Or possibly just declare this to be a non-issue because he wins and debates don’t matter and lines around the state. But Trump still lost, even though he cheated.