Peggy Noonan, perhaps the greatest Republican presidential speechwriter of our time, says voters are beginning to believe Donald Trump is “nuts” and a “total flake.”
“I think this week marked a certain coming to terms with where the election is going,” wrote Noonan in a column in the Wall Street Journal. “Politics is about trends and tendencies. The trends for Donald Trump are not good, and he tends not to change.”
Noonan knows her presidential history. She was a Republican speechwriter who penned some of the greatest presidential speeches of our time. In 1984, Noonan authored Ronald Reagan’s “Boys of Pointe du Hoc” speech on the 40th anniversary of D-day. She also wrote the unforgettable address that Reagan made following the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, using poet John Magee’s words about aviators “who touched the face of God.” She also helped George Bush deliver an unforgettable acceptance speech in 1988 which popularized the phrase, “a thousand points of light.”
Noonan says the recent controversy surrounding Trump has been “self-afflicted” by the candidate who expresses himself “thoughtlessly and carelessly” on every issue.
“By the middle of the week the Republican National Committee was reported to be frustrated, party leaders alarmed, donors enraged,” wrote Noonan. “There was talk of an ‘intervention.’ Here is a truth of life. When you act as if you’re insane, people are liable to think you’re insane. That’s what happened this week. People started to become convinced Mr. Trump was nuts, a total flake.”
The Trump campaign could use someone like Noonan soon to help steady a seemingly out-of-control campaign. But Noonan says that Trump, 70, may be beyond help.
“The mad scatterbrained-ness of it was captured in a Washington Post interview with Philip Rucker in which five times by my count—again, the compulsion—Mr. Trump departed the meat of the interview to turn his head and stare at the television. On seeing himself on the screen: ‘Lot of energy. We got a lot of energy.’ Minutes later: ‘Look at this. It’s all Trump all day long. That’s why their ratings are through the roof.’ He’s all about screens, like a toddler hooked on iPad.”
Moving forward, Noonan says the campaign is likely to get worse.
“Mr. Trump is not going to get serious about running for president,” wrote Noonan. “He does not have a second act, there are no hidden depths, there will be no ‘pivot.’ It is not that he is willful or stubborn, though he may be, it’s that he doesn’t have the skill set needed now—discretion, carefulness, generosity, judgment. There’s a clueless quality about him.”