Donald Trump

For Trump, the Beginning of the End Has Begun


National Library of Australia Commons/

This is, from everything I have been able to gather this week, the beginning of the end of Donald Trump.

The New Yorker and Slate, longtime impartial observers of our 45th president, declared the man who "could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters" has been done in by nothing more than the Comey memo.

The memo that no one, including The New York Times, which reported its existence, has seen but is sure to bring about impeachment proceedings.

"A Presidency of ideological meanness and unsurpassing incompetence has moved into another, more recognizable realm," New Yorker editor David Remnick opined gravely. "The usual comparison is with the Watergate era."

And we all know how that turned out.

Why, it was only last week the firing of the author of the phantom memo, former FBI director James Comey, was the beginning of the end of Trump and his administration.

"The White House," a sanguine Frank Rich speculated, "will be outwitted and outmaneuvered at nearly every turn by the events to come. Let's not forget the good news that came out of the Comey firing: It turns out that Trump, who has no idea of what is required to be a competent president sitting on top of the vast federal government, also turns out to have no idea of how to be a competent gangster sitting on top of what increasingly seems to be a somewhat-less-vast Trump-Kushner family criminal enterprise."

Last month, it was the Russians and their possible meddling in the presidential election that marked the beginning of the end and so much more for Robert Mueller, the new special counsel digging into that Russian relationship, has some pretty important questions to answer.

"The questions will be answered in due time, but the situation could be worse than an illegitimate president," Jason Easley wrote. "It is now possible that Donald Trump is a ticking time bomb that was put in place by Putin to destroy democracy from within.

"The United States of America can't have a literal Manchurian president."

But if this beginning of the end of Donald Trump was followed in order by two discrete beginnings of the end, when, exactly, might the beginning of the end have begun?

To find out, you must go back to June 16, 2015, the day Donald Trump announced his intention to run for president. While current technology makes it nearly impossible to trace to the minute the first declaration of the beginning of Trump's end, it was clear by early July eminent journalists and politicians were warming to the task.

I'd like to thank Judd Legum, editor-in-chief of Think Progress, for doing my legwork for me. Between July and October of 2015 no fewer than 33 people predicted Trump's end had just begun.

"Since the day that Trump's presidential campaign started, pundits from across the country have declared the "beginning of the end" of his run," Legum said. "So far, they've been wrong every time."

Being wrong has deterred very few.

Entering primary season in 2016, Daniel Drezner, professor of international politics at Tufts University was certain Trump had enough of the right stuff to become the Republican nominee, but never president.

"The man remains a spectacularly unpopular presidential candidate," Drezner wrote. "Within a crowded GOP field, Trump's jerk persona and heterodox ramblings clearly draw enough support for him to do well. In a general election, he's such an undisciplined, unmitigated disaster that there's talk of Democrats retaking the U.S. House of Representatives."

In June it was Trump's insensitive comments about the mass shooting in Orlando that were sure to do him in. A month later it was the speech he gave accepting the Republican Party's nomination for president. Not only was Trump soon to be finished but it was the start of the demise of all of conservatism, according to the dispassionate Salon.

Something as simple as an insensitive comment to a mother about her baby in Ashburn, Va. could bring Dana Milbank to the conclusion that "Maybe this is how it ends for Donald Trump: not with a bang but with a child's whimper."

Six weeks before the election, the estimable Arianna Huffington said historians would mark the moment of the beginning of the end with Trump's non-committal answer to a question at a town hall meeting

"There are few things as absolute in damning a candidate as a refusal to acknowledge simple reality — especially a candidate who says he'll be tough with our enemies but refuses to even stand up to his own supporters," Huffington huffed. "Refusing to acknowledge that Obama was born in this country is the equivalent of refusing to say that the earth is round."

And just two weeks before the election, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin, in a sort of pre-postmortem, wrote that as things turned out, she knew all along the preamble to Trump's history had been written with his performance in the first presidential debate.

Give it a couple more news cycles and you can be sure someone will author another beginning to Trump's end. Should there actually be an end, premature or otherwise, the line to take credit for the beginning will be endless.

But maybe the lesson with this president, to cadge from Ben Stanley just before the inauguration, is that none of this is the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning.