In part of his excellent work on the seminal 1960 Summer Olympic Games — aptly titled, "Rome 1960: The Olympics that Changed the World" — David Maraniss writes about the cunning strategy of the West German rowing team.
As I remember the story, the German rowing team was something to behold: efficient, strong, unbeatable. But occasionally the Germans would seem to falter. Sensing an opening, the other team would expend great energy in pulling alongside the mighty Germans, building confidence with every stroke.
Then … poof! … the Germans would kick into another gear and easily win. It would be a complete victory, physical and psychological.
The Republican Party of 2016 is the German rowing team of the 1960 Olympics, luring the Democrats into dreaming of a November victory then kicking into another gear. How? The Trump card.
I'll give it to you straight: Donald Trump will drop out of the presidential race, quite possibly within days. I'm increasingly convinced that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are practicing their debate points — and it will be no accident.
With Romney/Ryan (one or both) riding in to "solve" the problems their party created — continuing a standard GOP theme of the past four decades — Republicans will win the White House, both houses of Congress and pick a couple of Supreme Court justices to shape American society for the next 75 years. As no small bonus, they also get to stick a hot pin in inflated Democrats, who have already been celebrating a Hillary victory, and dismantle the Clinton Machine to boot.
Call it a "September Surprise."
But at what price? Certainly some Trump supporters will jump on the GOP ship, but many of them threw in with Trump because he built his whole political image at the summit of anti-establishment. He is the king of the Baby Boomers, feeding off the anti-government anger that Republicans previously harnessed, most recently as the Tea Party, and used to catalyze the so-called conservative movement.
This time, however, the self-destructive energy is loose and, now, it will be rampaging in various directions.
I'm sure Donald will find a way to spin the story to appear that he was forced out. He is prepping this with his dangerous and ludicrous claims that the media is rigged, the debates are rigged, the elections are rigged. And this is the Party of Personal Responsibility?
This chicanery will only fuel the Trump faithful — after all, everything is a C.O.N.S.P.I.R.A.C.Y. with this crowd. (So, of course, I offer my own conspiracy here.)
Trumplodytes are beyond angry, though — they're desperate enough to believe that Donald has their interests at heart, merely because he mocks women, the disabled and the family of a decorated veteran, spits on the Constitution, casts the media as villain for speaking truth, paints Central American-born Americans as rapists and says the civil rights movement (yes, that's what Black Lives Matter is) instigates cop killings.
Trump is their Great White (stress the white, hold the lettuce) Hope. If they believe Donald was forced out — or that he ditched them in the middle of the party, especially if he doesn't run as a third-party candidate — their anger will strike out against him, the Republicans, the Democrats, people of color, immigrants, intellectuals … anyone and everyone not them.
While the Romney/Ryan Republican strategy would be clever and cunning, on the world's most important political stage, it also is dangerous. Republicans can win in November and change the world, but at what cost to the American psyche and, more importantly, democracy?