Since Friday, Donald Trump has:
- Persistently attacked a gold star family
- Publicly said he will not support Paul Ryan, John McCain, and Kelly Ayotte in their reelection bids, reportedly making Reince Preibus “apoplectic”
- Accused two fire marshals of deliberately sabotaging his campaign
- Said Russia is not currently involved in military operations in Ukraine
- Accused the Obama administration of knowingly letting thousands of terrorists into the country
- Made fun of a baby
It’s no accident that this series of events has coincided with Hillary Clinton’s post-convention bump: Whenever Trump is down in the polls, he starts to act up and lash out. But this time it does seem to be different. Unable to justify Trump’s attacks on military families or their party’s leadership, higher-profile Republicans are starting to break with Trump—Clinton won the votes of GOP congressman Richard Hanna and former Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman this week. And Trump’s campaign itself seems like it’s starting to crack.
So are we at a turning point?
It’s possible that, two weeks after the Republican convention, Trump has finally done it and that the establishment is either going to refuse to back him or find a new candidate for president. But we have been here before, albeit with more than 97 days before the election. The leaks are damaging and suggest that some people in his campaign may be planning to leave soon. But time and again this election Trump has called fence-sitting Republicans on their bluff—throwing Ryan, McCain, and Ayotte under the bus on Wednesday was Trump reminding the GOP establishment that he still controls their fate. The Republicans are definitely jumpier than they were before the convention, but historically speaking these leaks have tended to signal the end of a period of turmoil rather than the beginning.
More importantly, the chaos surrounding the campaign is not, by any measure, exceptional for Trump. The density of dumb shit may be higher, but it’s still in keeping with the last 13 months. (Trump’s May and June were not that different from the past ten days.) Trump’s campaign may be on fire, but being on fire is its normal state.