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Donald Trump’s act goes from sideshow to big tent

Lisa Neff, Staff writer

Donald Trump launched his bid for the presidency in June 2015 with the fibs, distortions and wild boasts he repeated throughout much of 2016.

“I would build a great wall,” he promised. “And nobody builds walls better than me, believe me.”

“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created,” he vowed.

“I know the smartest negotiators in the world,” he said, debuting his plan for foreign policy.

He entertained as he offended in 2016. He smirked as he was mocked. He built a base as his popularity was dismissed as a fad.

He picked off one Republican presidential hopeful after another — including Gov. Scott Walker — until he stood alone.

He waged a hostile takeover of the GOP and grabbed the party’s presidential nomination in July.

Many are still trying to comprehend how it came to pass that the celebrity billionaire will take a seat in the Oval Office after being sworn in as the Offender in Chief.

Hillary Clinton had won a long primary battle against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination and most polls showed her handily ahead in the general election.

Then, in late October, FBI Director James Comey released his letter to Congressional Republicans that was widely — but falsely — interpreted to imply the law enforcement agency was reopening an investigation into Clinton’s mishandling of email while secretary of state.

Before the letter dropped into the news, pollster Nate Silver predicted Clinton’s chance of winning at 81 percent. A week after the release of the letter, Clinton’s chances had fallen 20 points. Late-deciding voters in swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania were shifting to Trump despite his poor performance in debates, his boasts of harassing and attacking women and his inflammatory remarks about blacks and poverty, immigrants and crime, Muslims and terrorism.

Decades ago, in her commencement speech at Wellesley College, Clinton characterized politics as an art — the ability to make “what appears to be impossible possible.”

Trump campaigned as an outsider, as the anti-politician, but he obviously has mastered the art of politics.

On Election Day, Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.7 million but Trump triumphed in the Electoral College.

Trump assumed the role of president-elect and began to nominate a series of right-wing conservatives — insiders in politics, insiders in the military, insiders on Wall Street, insiders in corporate America — for cabinet posts.

Anti-Trump protests took place in many cities, including Milwaukee and Madison. They seem likely to continue for years to come.