Turn back, not too far, to July of last year. An online website that measures public opinion laid out the odds of various candidates winning the Republican nomination.
Front-runners Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio were all between 20% and 30%. And Donald Trump, who had thrown his coif into the ring a month earlier, was given a 1% chance.
One in one hundred!
Those were the same odds faced by the Boston Red Sox after they fell behind the New York Yankees three games to none in the 2004 ALCS. But at least the Sox had Big Papi and Curt Schilling.
Donald Trump had no political experience, just an uncanny knack for tapping into America’s anger at standard issue politicians.
Trump’s instinct has enabled him to stun the political world. And now he has to decide how much to soften his rhetoric. Too much Mr. Nice Guy and he is no longer the defiant one who attracted the disaffected. Too much Mr. Tough Guy and he risks alienating Democrats and independents that he badly needs.
Between now and July, when the GOP holds its convention in Cleveland, Donald Trump will need to channel Goldilocks.
Part of the answer will be picking cabinet members who will give establishment Republicans a thrill up their legs. How about Chris Christie at Justice, Ben Carson at Health & Human Services, Rudy Giuliani at Homeland Security? And there has to be a vice presidential pick with impeccable conservative credentials.
We saw Trump make a pivot this week that would have induced whiplash in any mere mortal.
One day after implying that Ted Cruz’s father was an accomplice of Lee Harvey Oswald, Trump was hailing Cruz as a great competitor. The Texas Senator, in the course of a few hours, went from ‘Lyin’ Ted’ to ‘Ted the Lion-Hearted.’
But no matter how much he pivots, there are Republicans who will never, ever back Donald Trump.
Charles Krauthammer, during a Tuesday night appearance on The Factor, doubted whether he would be capable of voting for Trump, questioning Trump’s conservatism and temperament. Charles even went all nuclear, implying that Trump was not to be trusted with weapons of mass destruction.
The next day both Presidents Bush said they will not endorse Trump, perhaps not surprising after Trump hammered Jeb Bush mercilessly and accused George W. Bush of making the greatest blunder in U.S. history.
On the other hand, Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh concedes that Trump’s economic message and promise of jobs could help him win industrial states that went for Obama, among them Michigan and Pennsylvania.
The truth is, no one knows what will happen between now and November, so bet at your peril.
Will Hillary Clinton be indicted? Will Donald Trump say something so outrageous that even his supporters will walk away? Will the candidates throw dirt or take the proverbial high road. That is usually the road less traveled in politics, but this is the most bizarre year in any of our lifetimes.
On the media front, you can expect many reporters, anchors, columnists, and editorial boards to launch full-scale assaults on Trump. They despise the man, his policies, and his wealth.
And finally, what about violence?
The far left has been on a rampage, even dispatching little children to drop ‘f bombs’ on Trump supporters. Some Americans may vote for Clinton just to avoid the potential for mayhem; others will be so sickened by the protesters that they will move into the Trump camp.
Right now Donald Trump remains an underdog. Bookies in London and the USA give him about a 30% chance of beating Hillary Clinton in November. Not great, but then again, it’s a whole lot better than 1%.
All this brings to mind an adage known as The Chinese Curse, which says this: ‘May you live in interesting times.’ We most certainly do, for better or worse.