In every US election campaign there is a moment where the paper skin of spin and theatre is broken, and the pomposity and hubris, the outright fakery of political life bursts through. More often than not, it spells the end of a candidate’s ambitions. It was Al Gore rolling his eyes and sighing while debating George W Bush in 2000. It was an overexcited Democratic primary candidate Howard Dean bellowing like a heifer trapped in a grate on stage in Iowa in 2004. In 2016, it was Jeb Bush tweeting a picture of a personalised handgun with the one-word caption: “America”.
For Donald Trump, still leading the field in the Republican primaries, it could have been that QVC moment when he shared a stage at a press conference with a mound of gleaming Trump steaks and bottles of Trump wine. It could have been when he talked about the size of his penis in a televised debate, breaking the fourth wall of testosterone-fuelled, hotdog-and-cheesesteak all-Americanism to just outright tell the world that this was a pissing contest he was best equipped to win.