Last June, the political and pundit class was busy dismissing the just-announced Republican presidential candidacy of Donald Trump.
Some said it was a stunt. Some said it was to advance his reality TV career. Few took it seriously.
Then all summer and into the fall leading up to primary season, Donald Trump traveled all over the country speaking. With each passing week, the size of the venue needed for his speeches grew – until it finally became necessary to rent arenas to hold the crowds.
By the time the primaries began – arenas would fill up and leave thousands standing outside.
Many times on this odyssey it was said that Donald Trump had finally done it. He had committed the fatal error – the end-of-campaign gaffe. The pundits just knew, time and again, that it was over for Trump.
But then the primary voting started and in state after state – Texas being a notable exception – Trump racked up victories. As primary season moved toward its conclusion, the margins of those victories grew.
One by one the other Republican candidates dropped out. The best-funded and most recognized name in the Republican field – Jeb Bush – was finished in February, having never gotten out of single digits anywhere. Marco Rubio dropped out in mid-March.
When the voting was finished in the Indiana primary on May 3, the last viable man standing – Ted Cruz – was also forced to call it quits.
All of which led to this moment last night here in Cleveland in which Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama formally put into nomination the name of the most unlikely presidential candidate since – well, none even remotely as unlikely comes to mind.
At no time in our history has someone without so much as a school board election on his résumé risen to become a major party presidential nominee with a legitimate chance of winning the general election.
As we noted here yesterday, it’s still not a cakewalk and many in the Republican Party still have major reservations about Donald Trump.
But Thursday night here in Cleveland, Donald Trump will again do what he has been doing since last summer. He will, by formally accepting the Republican Party’s nomination, prove the high priests of the political and pundit classes wrong.
As someone that I spoke to reminded me yesterday, Hillary Clinton is a political professional and Donald Trump is not. The Clintons are experienced, disciplined and ruthless. They will exploit to the maximum degree any error committed by the Trump campaign. That Melania Trump’s speech Monday night at the convention apparently contained text lifted directly from a speech given by Michelle Obama eight years ago is evidence that the Trump campaign is still capable of making big mistakes.
However, if we have learned nothing since last summer, we have learned that much of what used to matter in a presidential campaign doesn’t seem to matter in this campaign – particularly as it applies to Donald J. Trump.