Chapter 6. Peak Trump.
Oil embargoes in the 1970s by OPEC, a group of totalitarian governments that wanted to hold at their mercy the free nations of the world, created fear in the West of running out of oil. President Carter stoked those fears by dusting off the idea of peak oil, a time when the production of oil would begin to decline as reserves ran out.
In 1919, David White, chief geologist of the United States Geological Survey, predicted the United States would reach peak oil in 1922.
In 1953, Eugene Ayers, a researcher for Gulf Oil, predicted peak oil would reach the United States by 1960.
In 1956, M. King Hubbert, a geoscientist for Shell, predicted peak oil would reach the United States by 1971.
In 1977, Carter predicted the world would reach peak oil in 2011.
Each prediction failed because experts overlooked the incentive for capitalists to develop new fields and new technologies, which expanded the world’s reserves of oil. George Phydias Mitchell’s company developed hydraulic fracking, which led to a glut of oil on the market by 2011.
Learning nothing from this, conservative pundits began talking about peak Trump from the day he announced he was running for president.
We reached peak Trump on June 16.
“On Tuesday, Donald Trump laid out the most entertaining campaign launch in presidential history. The stagecraft—descending his elevator in his tower behind his sexy wife—was magnificent. The Donald knew that the crowd expected The Donald, and thus he gave them Peak The Donald,” Ben Shapiro wrote in Breitbart News.
We reached peak Trump on July 9.
“On Wednesday, we reached peak Donald Trump, with two national TV interviews, including one by NBC News’ Katy Tur. We also learned on Wednesday that RNC Chair Reince Priebus called Trump and asked him to tone down his rhetoric on immigration—yet another acknowledgement of how the New York real-estate mogul is hurting the party. But here’s a fairly safe prediction: Trump’s poll position in the GOP race is going to go down. It might not happen tomorrow, or next month before the first debate, or the month after that. But it’s going to happen. And it won’t be due to immigration, but instead past statements on a slew of important issues to the GOP base,” Chuck Todd of NBC wrote.
We reached peak Trump on July 21.
“Trump reached peak Trumpness during his speech today,” the Week reported.
We reached peak Trump on July 22.
“Memo to Donald Trump: We are past PEAK TRUMP! Sell-by date approaching. Plan EXIT STRATEGY before Iowa! ADIOS amigo! #ArtOfTheWithdrawal,” Bill Kristol wrote.
We reached peak Trump on August 19.
“Though Donald Trump is maintaining a healthy lead in polls for the Republican presidential nomination, there is mounting evidence that he has already peaked,” Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner wrote.
We reached peak Trump on August 20.
“Donald Trump’s ‘Time’ Magazine Cover Lets Us Know We’ve Reached Peak Donald Trump,” Alicia Lu of the Bustle headlined her article.
We reached peak Trump on August 20, for a second reason.
“Trumpmentum has been losing steam ever since the debate. I hopped over to RealClear Politics this morning to take a look at their latest poll averages, and it shows something interesting: Donald Trump may have hit his ceiling. On August 5, he hit a peak at 24.3 percent. He then plateaued for a few days and has been falling ever since. He now stands at 22.0 percent,” Kevin Drum of Mother Jones wrote.
We reached peak Trump on September 16.
In an article titled, “The Five Reasons That ‘The Donald’ is Done by December,” Jeff Wald of the Huffington Post wrote, “On Wednesday September 16, 2015 at 4:23 p.m. EST, I tweeted that we had just reached ‘Peak Trump.’ I believe that was the moment ‘The Donald’ reached his maximum appeal to the American public. I could have added something along the lines of, ‘and our long national nightmare shall soon be over’; although you only get 140 characters.”
We reached peak Trump on September 24.
“Trump may have passed his peak, polls indicate,” wrote David Lauter of the Los Angeles Times.
We reached peak Trump on September 30.
“As a card-carrying member of the media, it has certainly felt to me, starting around the second debate, that the limits of Trump’s candidacy have come clearer: He’s out of his depth on policy, his campaign is progressively less inventive and unusual, and fear of Trump is leading to consolidation around his most politically talented challengers—namely Rubio and Fiorina. But Trump still leads in the polls, and the level of media coverage he’s getting now is about the same as before he peaked in the polls,” Ezra Klein of Vox wrote.
We reached peak Trump on October 23.
“I said before that we’d reached Peak Trump, and the polling since has borne that out. Improbably, Ben Carson is on the way up. But the race is getting nuanced, and technicalities might play a big part in the early race momentum next year,” Neil Stevens of Red State wrote.
We reached peak Trump on October 27.
“There’s buzz this morning about a new CBS/New York Times national poll that shows Ben Carson leading Donald Trump by 4 percentage points. It’s the first time since mid-July that a pollster that puts out results regularly has shown anyone but Trump leading the Republican primary nationally. ‘Peak Trump’ has been declared, erroneously, almost as many times as ‘peak oil.’ Is there reason to believe it’s real this time?” Kyle Wingfield of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote.
We reached peak Trump on January 14, 2016.
“Trump’s Rant about the ‘Son of a Bitch’ Who Installed His Microphone Last Night Was Peak Trump,” ran the headline to a Jack Holmes’s piece in Esquire.
We reached peak Trump on March 5.
“I think we may have passed peak Trump, as it will be known. I don’t think Mr. Romney was under any illusions that he was going to talk Trump’s supporters out of supporting him. I think he knows the axiom that you cannot reason people out of a position they have not been reasoned into,” George Will said on Fox News.
Trump had more peaks than the Himalayas. But the peak Trump cliché did inspire Jonah Goldberg of the National Review to write one of his best paragraphs in the campaign on August 11, 2015.
“While Rasmussen and other allegedly reputable polls suggest that we may have hit peak Trump already, I’m not buying it. Every time reason and logic suggest Trump’s moment should start winding down, he surges ahead. Well, I’m not taking the bait this time. I’m only going to predict success for Trump from now on, on the theory that reality will prove me wrong. So Trump will win the Republican primaries. Even his opponents will vote for him. Even his opponents’ mothers and children will vote for him. Humans shall rise from the grave to pull the lever for him. He is unstoppable. He shall be president for life. You can take that to the bank,” Goldberg wrote.
But four days later, he took off the curse and wrote, “It’s obviously too soon to tell for sure, but I think we’ve reached Peak Trump.”
The conservative commentariat would rather be in agreement than be right.