Sell your stocks, hide your housekeeper, lock up your daughters, cover your kids’ ears –Donald Trump just won the presidential election.
Say it three times, “President Donald J. Trump.” Now say it again.
In a stunning upset – well, stunning if you’ve been an avid reader of news coverage of the election and the polling – the former reality TV star was zooming toward 270 Electoral College votes when Dem nominee Hillary Clinton called him to concede at about 11:40 PM PT.
“Sorry to keep you waiting. Complicated business,” Trump told followers as he took the stage to take his victory lap.
“I’ve just received a call from Secretary Clinton,” he said. “She congratulated us on our victory, and I congratulated her and her family on a very, very hard-fought campaign. Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I mean that sincerely.”
Trump’s campaign placed a winning, long-shot bet that a shrinking demographic – white working-class voters — would join with rank-and-file Republicans to make up a majority of the electorate.
On the issues, he hung his hopes on two hot-button issues — immigration and international trade — that served him well in the primary season but seemed unlikely to pay off in the general election.
Just to lengthen the odds, Trump insulted Hispanics, Muslim Americans and physically challenged Americans and boasted about groping women in comments caught on tape on a certain bus heading to a certain infotainment show. Then, he publicly insulted women who came forward to claim he’d groped them too, saying some of them weren’t sufficiently attractive for him to have done that.
No matter, in the end. Trump hit millions of voters on a gut level, with macho talk about a “rigged system” and building that wall, and one catch phrase “Make America Great Again” that, combined with promise to bring back coal, steel and manufacturing jobs, enveloped voters in a cloud of nostalgia.
In his victory speech tonight, Trump said it was “time for Americans to bind the wounds” and “come together as one united people.”
Trump got lucky in his opponent, Hillary Clinton the Untrusted, who, in the end, could never polish up her image — though a last-minute FBI investigation would pretty much kill off any politician’s image, even if it were withdrawn at the very last minute.
Communications majors will replay the video for years to come of the moment of dawning awareness on the news channels when anchors began to speak the words out loud that a Trump victory was possible, shortly before the polls closed on the West Coast. Over at Fox News, the crew was a model of not gloating, starting at about 10:45 PM ET, when Fox called North Carolina for Trump. If you’re Trump’s handlers, “You’ve got to say this night is going directly according to plan,” Megyn Kelly said, with rising but controlled astonishment.
Cut to Brett Baier and Bill Hemmer at the touch-able map of the states.
“You look at the map — it’s starting to line up,” said Baier, on about the same note as Kelly.
“It’s not far-fetched. It’s quite rational,” said Hemmer, his voice rising to a slightly higher range. “…I’d put my focus on Michigan. And if that happens, he’s the President of the United States. “
Meanwhile, Stephen Colbert’s live late-night election special on Showtime, kicking off at 11 PM ET, quickly became a wake:
“I’m not sure if it’s a comedy show at this point,” the CBS late-night host told The Circus’ Mark Halperin, when Florida was called for Trump. “I think we’re in the middle of a documentary right now. Am I in your f*cking documentary?”
“He’s now in the doorstep of 270 [Electoral College votes],” Halperin offered, turning the knife, on the now un-ironic Democracy’s Series Finale: Who’s Going to Clean Up This Sh*t?”
“Wow, that’s a horrifying prospect. I cannot put a happy face on that,” a stricken Colbert said.
“For Trump voters,” this is porn, Colbert added, sadly, as results trickled in, continuing the candidate’s march to the White House.
“We all now feel the way Rudy Giuliani looks,” he concluded.