Trump picks Clinton's lock on the election
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In the 1982 movie "Diner," the character played by a young Mickey Rourke is struggling with paying off money owed to a bookie on past lost bets. He decides to place a wager on a college basketball game he believes is a sure winner as a way to clear the debt.

An adult friend of his mother learns of the dilemma and offers to have the bet called off. Rourke's character declines the offer. "The game's a lock," he says. The family friend shakes his head and says, "Nothing's a lock."

Replace "it's a lock" with "inevitable" and welcome to Democrats 2016.

To those many, many supporters of Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College Federal workers stuck it out with Trump — now, we're ready to get back to work Biden soars as leader of the free world MORE who gloated each August day about how great the election was theirs and mocked caution, please watch this scene from "Diner." Because as I told you then, the election is a lock in August only when the votes are cast in August. Better yet, just ask Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreKey McConnell ally: Biden should get access to transition resources CNN acquires Joe Biden documentary 'President in Waiting' Former GSA chief: 'Clear' that Biden should be recognized as president-elect MORE and Tom Dewey, who led in the polls on Labor Day — and then recall President Reagan's often used line, "I don't see President Dewey on Mount Rushmore."


The lock that Clinton may have held in August has been deftly picked by Republican nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpVenezuela judge orders prison time for 6 American oil executives Trump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation MORE in a continuation of the most bizarre election that many, many people can recall. He has put together an electoral coalition unlike few in the recallable past: timid Republican presidential opponents, historic level of anger and fury at the federal government, born-again public racism and misogyny, and unprecedented distain and dislike of the major nominees.

All of this is dumped into a political butter churned by media that have been, for the most part, submissive to Trump in an effort to be fair. That left the information door wide open for those purporting to be legitimate media that skew information and events to reframe for attacks.

Once again, Trump has benefited from something sowed by others for a greater agenda, a direct result of a decades-long conservative project to discredit mainstream sources of information as populated by so-called liberal sycophants. (A visit to most newsrooms would disprove that.) This institutional failure, however, rests more on the journalists who know better and have not remembered their oath is to expose those who actually work against the people for their own enrichment.

As written here before, the media craved a great, different election-year story and now the story is out of their coverage control. The legitimate media has Al Gore-ed Clinton, holding her to standards not applied to other candidates and using falsehoods spewed against her as the tee-off points of their framing of reports.

And that electoral lockbox (sorry, Al) has also sprung open for the "certainty" of Democrats taking control of the Senate. Same deal. The almost Niagara Falls-like gushing of a net gain of at least five to seven seats has collapsed quicker than Clinton suffering from dehydration. Today, Democrats are facing the realpolitik of perhaps a gain of two to three seats — essentially fourth-quarter chump change that will not change the dynamics in the upper chamber.

The third-party factor has also shifted. Libertarian Party nominee Gary JohnsonGary Earl JohnsonOn The Trail: Making sense of Super Poll Sunday Polarized campaign leaves little room for third-party hopefuls The Memo: Trump retains narrow path to victory MORE was seen as an alternative for disgruntled Republicans to cast their vote. However, each time he is interviewed, he makes his case weaker and the perceived ability of this presence to hurt Trump diminishes. He is not going to steal any Trump voters.

Meanwhile, Green Party nominee Jill Stein, drawing a smaller percent in polls, is clearly proving to be a safe space for still-fuming supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation Clyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Prepare for buyers' remorse when Biden/Harris nationalize health care MORE and others who feel Clinton is not progressive, candid or nice enough. Those are true lost Clinton votes — and that can hurt.

So Trump wins it both ways with the third-party candidates.

Watching a campaign from both close up and afar, without the demands of writing and reporting each day, provides scope, clarity and face-slap sensibility. Almost every presidential campaign thinks it knows what it is doing. Only the winning team can rightly say it does. While it is incredible to many that Trump is still contending, he is; it may be dumb luck or smart strategy.

Of course, it is not too late and of course, much more can still happen. Nothing is a lock. Yet getting Clinton to change is like trying to turn a battleship; difficult to do and time-consuming. Time now has just become one more Clinton foe.

By the way, the Rourke character loses the bet and faces punishment for not paying up. He is rescued by the same family friend, who pays the debt and then has Rourke work for him.

Of course, that was a movie; this is real life. No one seems there to rescue those who had their locks picked.

Squitieri is an award-winning reporter and communications veteran and an adjunct professor at American University and Washington and Jefferson College.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.