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Opinion: Trump has himself to blame for his historically bad week

Opinion: Trump has himself to blame for his historically bad week
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the South Florida Fairgrounds and Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Thursday. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, The Times’ letters editor, and it is Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016. With such a slow news week behind us, it’s difficult to think of what pithy Opinion punditry to serve up here, so bear with me through this newsletter.

Fooled ya. In fact, Republican Donald Trump’s campaign has collapsed so quickly, threatening to destroy his party or at least change it permanently, that it’s hard to know where to begin. The Times’ editorial Friday assessing the damage caused by repeated allegations of groping and lewd, demeaning comments about and toward women provides a good vantage point from which to look back at arguably the worst week for any nominee in the history of presidential politics.

The editorial board says Trump isn’t helping his candidacy by engaging in petty fights with his fellow Republicans or attempting to smear his accusers rather than making the case for his election:

Trump mostly has himself to blame for the declining fortunes of his campaign, engaging in one pointless and distracting fight after another rather than making a persuasive case for his election. And it was Trump who decided that sexual misconduct — Bill Clinton’s, that is — was a salient issue in the campaign, to the point that his campaign paraded a group of the former president’s accusers before the news media just before the last presidential debate. Now, of course, Trump and his beleaguered band of television surrogates object that the media and public are being distracted by the “extraneous” issue of Trump’s behavior toward women.

Trump is correct that the disturbing accusations against him have coincided with the release of emails from the account of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, which do contain information embarrassing to the Clinton campaign — as would the ventilation of the private communications of any political campaign — but no bombshells.

Even if the emails were purloined by hackers associated with the Russian government, as U.S. intelligence officials believe, the contents shouldn’t be off-limits for discussion any more than were the Trump tax returns surreptitiously provided to the New York Times. Clinton already has been pressed to explain comments she made at a speech to a housing-industry group that public officials need “both a public and a private position.” She likewise should respond to other details from the emails — for example, Chelsea Clinton’s fear that associates of the Clinton Foundation were trying to capitalize on their government connections to aid their clients.

But the fact that voters are more interested in Trump’s obscene comments about women captured on tape — and troubling allegations that he acted the way he talked — isn’t surprising. Nor is it a result of a conspiracy. Trump trained this spotlight on himself.

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Thanks, Donald — no, really. Editorial writer Mariel Garza says that Trump’s, um, frank discussion of what he thinks about women might finally provide that “Ferguson moment” for us to start seriously examining what half the population has put up with since, well, forever. Garza writes: “The Trump groping story is unfolding not unlike the Bill Cosby rape train wreck. After one woman came forward, it empowered more women to tell stories as well. There’s power and cover in numbers.” L.A. Times

Trigger warning: Trump’s about to talk. There’s a constituency of millions, writes Robin Mather, for which the 2016 campaign has aggravated the post-traumatic stress caused by sexual assault. And survivors of sexual abuse can expect the trauma to continue long after Nov. 8: “Those of us who have endured debasement and dehumanization will vote, too. The difference between us and you, however, is that neither ‘I'm with her’ nor ‘Make America great again’ will bring us peace.” L.A. Times

#NeverTrumpers need to get over themselves and vote for Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump threatens freedom of the press and declares he might throw his opponent in jail if elected. He wants to ban all members of a particular religion from entering the United States. He believes more countries should have nuclear weapons. Hillary Clinton does none of these things, notes James Kirchick, so the conservatives who courageously fought against Trump during the primaries and now feel uneasy about a Clinton presidency should do the right thing and vote for the only candidate capable of beating the Republican nominee. L.A. Times

Muslims don’t need Donald Trump to tell them to report terrorist activity. Many of them have stepped up already as allies of law enforcement and either helped save American lives or tried to alert authorities to terrorist plots, writes Salam Al-Marayati: “Paradoxically, even as immigrants and refugees are invaluable in the fight against terrorism, they are subject to anti-Muslim bias and stereotypes that see all Muslims as potential terrorists. That image is projected on refugee and immigrant communities by violent extremists in the Middle East and xenophobes in the United States, and it is based on a false narrative — that Islam and the West are at war, and always will be.” L.A. Times

How about some positive words for Hillary Clinton? Meghan Daum praises the Democratic nominee for staying strong during Sunday’s debate when Trump was acting every part the bully, lurking ominously behind Clinton, threatening at times to imprison her and bringing along her husband’s accusers in some hypocritical ploy to intimidate his opponent. “Anyone else would have had steam coming out her ears, if not her lunch making a backward trip up her esophagus, but Clinton was made of steel,” Daum writes. L.A. Times

There’s more on the ballot than just Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — a lot more. The Times’ editorial board researched nearly three dozen races — interviewing candidates and holding the ballot initiatives’ fine print under a microscope — and made recommendations for contests ranging from president down to local measures and judges. Find a complete list of endorsements here.

Bob Dylan, Nobel laureate? It's not so strange, really. The Times’ editorial board welcomes news of Dylan’s Nobel Prize in literature, lauding the Swedish Academy for recognizing the literary pedigree of poetry set to music: “Dylan demonstrates that pop can be art, yet remain pop. It can have broad appeal to a mass radio audience of adolescents and young adults and still have something to reveal to those same people in their later years, and to the generations that come after them.” L.A. Times

L.A. gets recognition for trying to cut out fossil fuels — from the New York Times. Its editorial board is hopeful about the city’s exploration of completely cutting out coal and natural gas in favor of renewable energy sources: “Los Angeles, the nation’s second-most-populous city, has the potential to serve as an especially powerful role model for other cities, just as California has served as a model for other states and, indeed, the nation as a whole. It has taken a crucial first step by committing to study the issue.” New York Times

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