Carl Hiaasen

Maybe Trump really wants to lose

Trump: ‘Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails’

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump urges Russia to find his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's emails during a news conference on Wednesday, July 27, 2016, at Trump National Doral.
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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump urges Russia to find his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's emails during a news conference on Wednesday, July 27, 2016, at Trump National Doral.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

The easiest job in politics belongs to the people who are producing Hillary Clinton’s attack ads against Donald Trump. All they’ve got to do is wait for this bumbling gasbag to open his mouth, and he basically writes their commercials for them.

Every few days brings a new Trump gaffe, and a new gift to the Democrats. Never has a presidential candidate willingly provided so much damaging material for the opposition to use.

Last week, while Clinton was being celebrated in Philadelphia, Trump asked the Russians to hack into the emails she sent and received as U.S. Secretary of State.

Incredibly, he was suggesting that a foreign superpower overtly hostile to American interests launch a cyber-attack against a former U.S. Cabinet member.

Even if it was sarcastic (as Trump belatedly claimed), the notion of inviting Vladimir Putin’s spy goons to interfere in a U.S. political election was so reckless that it raised an unavoidable question: Is Trump trying to sabotage his own campaign?

Many Republican leaders are said to be outraged by his Russian hacking comment, and at this point they must be wondering if Trump secretly doesn’t want to be president.

It’s almost as if he lies awake late at night thinking of things to say that are either shockingly stupid, or stupidly shocking. Then he purposely chooses the worst possible time to say them.

A recurring theme of the Democratic convention was Trump’s instability and lack of foreign-policy knowledge. Instead of trying to counter that impression, he validated it by asking Russia’s espionage apparatus to go after Hillary — and then suggested that as president he might even recognize Russia’s military “annexation” of Crimea.

The Democrats are right, Trump seemed to be crowing. I’m just as clueless and dangerous as they say I am.

Nobody who seriously hopes to get to the White House cozies up to a guy like Putin.

Why would Trump make himself look like a gullible patsy only days after presenting himself to the GOP convention as a wily tough guy, the nation’s self-proclaimed savior?

The possibility must be considered that he doesn’t really want to win the election. There are several reasons why he wouldn’t.

Being president is a grueling and frustrating gig, much harder than running a beauty pageant or starring in a TV reality show.

You’ve got worry about complicated things like the global economy and terrorism, which means you actually have to read detailed briefings from experts every day.

This would be a major adjustment for Trump, who reads Twitter but not much else. He says he gets his information from television, which is not how the CIA and NSA prefer to disseminate top-secret intelligence.

Becoming president means taking a huge pay cut, too, which would be problematic for a businessman with as many heavy expenses as Trump — all those lawyers to pay and court judgments to settle, not to mention the costly leases on his planes and helicopter.

A president’s salary is only $400,000, peanuts to a high-flying billionaire. And the yearly spending allowances would severely cramp Trump’s style — a $50,000 expense account, $100,000 for travel and a pitiful $19,000 for entertainment.

For 19 grand you couldn’t possibly get Tony Bennett to sing at your inaugural ball. Heck, on a budget like that you couldn’t get Tony Orlando.

This is the grim reality facing the Big Orange Trumpster. Also weighing on his mind is the prospect of leaving his glamorous Manhattan life and moving to Washington, D.C., where there are far fewer celebrities to hang with.

Will Melania be happy hosting a state dinner for the prime minister of Bhutan when she could be back on the couch in her Fifth Avenue penthouse, watching Netflix with Tom Brady and Giselle?

One has to wonder if Trump has been haunted with second thoughts from the moment he decided to run. Early in the campaign he showed signs of self-sabotage, gratuitously insulting Hispanics, Muslims, women, even American POWs.

It’s possible these slurs erupted like toxic little geysers from Trump’s subconscious, some selfish core that really has no appetite for living under a public microscope, spending the next four years fighting Congress, or trying to remember the difference between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

That might also explain the creepy speech he gave at the convention in Cleveland, a doomsday portrait of America designed to stir up conservative white voters and alienate everyone else.

It’s a formula for disaster in November.

There are more subtle ways to throw an election, but Trump’s not a subtle guy.

The next time he says something mind-blowingly idiotic — and it could happen again today — ask yourself why he keeps doing this.

Is it because he can’t help it, or because deep down he wants to lose?

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