The question is what will be the tipping point with Donald Trump, the incident, large or small, that suddenly causes the scales to fall from the eyes of his so far endlessly tolerant supporters, and cause them to suddenly realize what they are doing, exclaim, “My God! This man is a jerk!” and end this sick romance. The human being behind the ugly mask is uglier still, after all. Sooner or later, a tipping point will be reached.
In 1948, Republican Tom Dewey, who already had given FDR his best battle in an election, was poised to defeat the unpopular President Harry Truman and become President of the United States. It was less than a month from election day when, in Beaucoup, Illinois, Dewey was speaking on the rear platform of a train as a tactic to counter Truman’s 30,000-mile whistle-stop campaign. The engineer accidentally backed the train up a short distance and stopped with a jolt, frightening both the candidate and the crowd. Dewey, flustered, snapped, “This is the first lunatic I’ve had as an engineer. He probably ought to be shot at sunrise, but I guess we can let him off because nobody was hurt!”
Nobody laughed. This was a petulant, privileged, arrogant side of Dewey that the public had never seen before, and was played up by papers as emblematic of a contempt for working Americans. It didn’t help that he wore a fussy, anachronistic mustache mocked by Alice Roosevelt Longworth as making her visualize Dewey as “the bridegroom on the wedding cake,” but whatever his other flaws, the train incident and his unguarded moment of impatience may have cost Thomas Dewey the election.
Yesterday, during an overflowing rally in Pensacola, Florida, the Republican poll-leader for the party’s Presidential nomination became annoyed by a balky microphone and attacked an anonymous sound engineer.
“And by the way I don’t like this mic, whoever the hell brought this mic system, don’t pay the son of a bitch who brought it in,” The Donald ranted. “No this mic is terrible, stupid mic keeps popping…Don’t pay him. You know I believe in paying, but when somebody does a bad job like this you shouldn’t pay the bastard,” Trump continued.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the real Donald Trump!
Sure, it was just a moment and a mic, just as Dewey’s Waterloo was a moment and a train. Small incidents can be regarded as having signature significance, and then they are tipping points in public perception, the unplanned moment that pulls everything together and makes people realize that whatever the limits are to the personality flaws they will tolerate in their national leaders, this exceeds it.
Maybe the popping microphone will be Trump’s Dewey moment, when ordering his staff to throw a protester into the cold without his coat, mocking a reporter’s physical maladies, insulting prisoners of war and other boorish, ugly moments weren’t enough to drop those veils. You never know: tipping points are often cumulative.
I am certain that even if this wasn’t it,Trump’s Dewey moment is coming. The nation can only hope that it happens before the Republican Convention, and not after.