So far in this wild political season, Donald Trump has been wielding his Twitter account like a battle-axe, pounding opponents with wickedly unforgettable nicknames, and raging across the country like a Viking berserker. He laid waste to more than a dozen experienced Republican challengers, and with the Democratic nominee still not officially settled, he has nonetheless been ripping into Hillary Clinton on a daily basis.
In short, when it comes to slash and burn politics, there is no doubt Trump can dish it out. But this week began a grand experiment to see if he can take it, too.
The New York billionaire was attacked on almost every front. Stories of seamy dealings at Trump University brought his business acumen – not to mention, his ethics – into question. How Trump handled fundraising for veterans spurred an avalanche of skeptical headlines, and more followed after he lit into the media. Angry protestors continue to swirl around his events. And to top it all off, Clinton lambasted him as fundamentally, wholly and hopelessly unfit to hold the Oval Office, calling his ideas “dangerously incoherent.”
The last time I heard that phrase was when one of our CNN editors looked over a story I’d written about the Brexit. But heck, they say that about all my stories.
In any event - Trump’s response? Another flurry of tweets. Clinton had not even finished talking before he teed up “Crooked Hillary no longer has credibility – too much failure in office.” But that does not answer some of her charges about his limited experience and, for some voters, his alarming worldview.
Of course, anti-Trumpsters will welcome the weekend by hoisting glasses in an impromptu festival of schadenfreude, because this is undeniably the roughest patch for Trump since his race began.
But will it last? I doubt it. The latest polls still show him running hard and steady with Clinton. He has proven remarkably skilled at counterattacks. And even in Judith Viorst’s great children’s tale we learn that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad times seldom stay that way for anyone.
(CNN’s Tom Foreman is the author of My Year of Running Dangerously)