Evan Vucci / AP

As a former reality television star, Donald Trump has to know that what goes up in the realm of fame must eventually be torn down. Last week, several voices from the mass media achieved a rare consensus and made it clear that the laws of celebrity gravity were no longer operating in his favor.

In brief, Trump’s fortunes began to turn as some kind of critical mass was reached in the collective take of the press on his mental state. In the process, his insistence that “all press is good press” was also tested.

To review, a quick Google search—using the term “Donald Trump crazy”—of news articles published over the last seven or so days yielded pages of results. The stories typically referred to a heavily cited chain of events, including Trump’s protracted and relentlessly televised feud with the Khan family, his breezy appropriation of a supportive veteran’s Purple Heart and his confusing exchange with a disruptive baby.

Figuring among them were these headlines:

● “Mark Cuban endorses Hillary Clinton, calls Donald Trump ‘bats- – – crazy’ ” (CNN)

● “Is Donald Trump Just Plain Crazy?” (Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post)

● “Donald Trump’s calamitous week leads to questions about his state of mind” (The Telegraph)

● “Donald Trump may be acting crazy, but it’s keeping the news away from the one story he wants to bury” (Daily Kos)

● “The Psychopathology of Donald Trump” (Bill Blum, Truthdig—the basis for this Facebook Live discussion featuring Blum and Truthdig staff members)

● “The Week They Decided Donald Trump Was Crazy” (Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal)

As other prominent conservative commentators—David Brooks, Ben Howe, this panel assembled by the National Review—had done before her, certified Reaganite Noonan did her part to dispel the notion that Trump could still somehow be squeezed into a presidential mold.

“He does not have a second act, there are no hidden depths, there will be no ‘pivot,’ ” Noonan wrote. “It is not that he is willful or stubborn, though he may be, it’s that he doesn’t have the skill set needed now—discretion, carefulness, generosity, judgment. There’s a clueless quality about him.” Worse, Noonan launched zingers like this: “He’s all about screens, like a toddler hooked on iPad.”

On Sunday, Trump took to his preferred medium of publicity in a bid to take charge of the message:

One day prior, Trump had hit out against his presidential rival, again attempting to deflect some of the speculation about mental fitness onto her instead:

For her part, Hillary Clinton took the opportunity to let Trump’s tussle with the press play itself out, focusing instead on local campaign efforts in key battleground states. Clinton’s camp also benefited overall from the fracas surrounding Trump, as it coincided with an uptick in scrutiny and criticism, and an explanation from the Democratic presidential nominee—one that pushed the bounds of plausibility—about her use of private email servers to handle official State Department business while she served as secretary of state and the ensuing investigation into that matter.

It’s going to take more than that for Trump to win over undecided voters or win back spooked GOP loyalists, but then, it’s highly likely that the Republican presidential contender hasn’t tweeted his last statement on the subject.

Questions about the timing and accuracy of the “crazy Trump” narrative will no doubt be considered by a range of sources with varying agendas and loyalties. And although there’s nothing that some news outlets like more than a sensational argument someone else came up with, and upon which they can piggyback, this particular conjecture emerged in part because of the GOP nominee’s own observable behavior.

But no matter what they determine, one takeaway from this object lesson seems clear: Erasing the already faint borders between the worlds of celebrity and politics renders candidates subject to fame’s capricious forces. In other words, for Trump and any other politicians borrowing from the same playbook, their moment of adulation is almost guaranteed to be gone in a flash—without regard to personal fortunes, party affiliations or election schedules.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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