Donald Trump's greatest escape

Because from the early ‘90s, when bankers and lenders in New York and state regulators in New Jersey could have all but ended him, to his herky-jerky presidential campaign in 2015 and ’16, to his aberrant, hyperactive presidency, Trump has built an astonishingly consistent record of surviving crises, of dodging the comeuppance everyone assumes is coming his way, and then turning seeming calamity into his next great opportunity—and emerging not just intact but emboldened.

He dodged the “Access Hollywood” tape fiasco. He evaded the noose of impeachment over the Ukraine deal. Those might now seem minor compared to the challenge of trying to get reelected during a worldwide health crisis and a looming depression—but if one acknowledges that he has been training in some sense for this sort of a jam for the bulk of his adult existence, then this nightmarish predicament starts to look less like an uncrackable problem than a potential capstone accomplishment.

“He’s a magician that way,” said Jennifer Mercieca, a professor at Texas A&M University and the author of the forthcoming Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump. “Other people would stop and recognize that they were defeated. Or that they should be shamed. He refuses.”

George Arzt, a Democratic consultant in New York, who’s known Trump for going on 50 years, likens him to the world’s most noted escape artist.

“Houdini,” he said.