For wherever ruthless men conspired together for their own ends, wherever the rule of dog-eat-dog was dominant, there it bred. And wherever one found it, one also found that its roots sank down into something primitive in man's ugly past. ~ THOMAS WOLFE, "You Can't Go Home Again"
Say what you will about Donald Trump. I've said plenty and will have plenty more to say, but he is sorely testing my ability to be outraged over and over and over again over his outrages. Call it outrage fatigue, the bastard cousin of compassion fatigue, which is what happens when you've seen too many news clips of Biafran babies with swollen bellies or the bodies of Syrian refugees washing up on Mediterranean beaches.
So far, neither Trump nor I have hit bottom, although I suspect that his capacity for saying outrageous things may actually be finite (I can't believe I said that), if not his proclivity for hitting back mercilessly if he feels he has been disrespected. It also appears that a corner in voter consciousness finally has been turned in the last few days and this attention craving boy-man will be left to belly crawl among the carcasses littering the Republican fever swamp en route to a well deserved drubbing on Election Day, which although only a mere 97 days hence seems like an eternity.
In the meantime, I will continue to endeavor to be suitably outraged and not take for granted the man with the small hands and peculiar hair, as well as hope that I have plenty of company. Because taking Trump for granted confers an undeserved credibility on him, his demon ideology and the people who enthusiastically sieg heil at his rallies.
A list of Trump's outrages would include swindling students at his university, mocking and mimicking a disabled reporter, his libel of Barack Obama as a Kenyan-born Islamofascist, POW war hero John McCain as a loser because he got shot down, Mexicans as rapists and Muslims as terrorists, his accusation that Hillary Clinton is a thief and murderer, Rosie O'Donnell is "a fat pig," Vladimir Putin is someone to be admired and his intelligence services are to be encouraged to cyberhack the U.S. government, his defense of Roger Ailes' sexual predations while blaming the former Fox News boss's victims, demeaning generals and troops alike despite being a chickenhawk, his characterization of Khizr Khan as a simpering Clinton puppet, Khan's wife Ghazala as an obeisantly silent slave and their son, who sacrificed his life to a suicide bomber on an Iraqi roadside to save his comrades, as a needless casualty of a war that would never have been fought had he been president. Oh, and if Ivanka wasn't his daughter, he'd be acquainting her with his "I guarantee you there's no problem, I guarantee" male appendage.
I have argued that Republican politicians face a choice: Continue to embrace Trump or abandon the Frankencandidate they created when they transformed the GOP into a Welcome Wagon for racists and xenophobes who of course were going to be drawn to him like flies to dung as well as view his outrages as welcome assaults on political correctness.
You aren't hearing much these days from those pols about Trump being an equivalent or even morally superior choice to Clinton as it has become obvious to them that the "pivot" they kept hoping he would make toward becoming a kindler, gentler and more electable candidate was an illusion.
Even the most tone-deaf among them are doing a little calculus when they stand in the shower soaping their own appendages: Is it worth saving their party while losing their souls since the White House will remain beyond the grasp of the GOP for the foreseeable future and holding the Senate may be a lost cause, as well? That continuing to commune with Trump will forever tarnish their images? And in the case of swing-state senators running for reelection, their livelihoods?
Yet I'm not sure that these politicians getting all righteous, withdrawing endorsements, or even understanding that what began as just another presidential candidacy has become a national emergency really matters.§
Nor do analogies of Lincoln spinning in his grave. Or the stampede of conservatively-inclined deep thinkers who belatedly have discovered that Trump is a man with "a disordered personality," as Robert Kagan politely terms it. For one thing, it's not likely that any of those pols have souls and probably spend that camera-ready hour or so in church each Sunday morning picking lint off their Armani trousers rather than pondering the pastor's message.
That Trump is a sadist is not in dispute. Neither is his inability to control himself, although there is a calculated cleverness lurking behind his apparent spontaneity, witness his Twitter tantrums this week about the debates being rigged because of Clinton and the election being stolen from him because of courts overturning restrictive voter ID laws, both products of him stewing over the probability of being on the short end of the stick come November 8. The latest round of national polls show him increasingly falling behind Clinton (an average of seven points in seven polls), while an entire freaking week and then some has elapsed since he has had a semblance of control over the narrative. Is that not a beautiful thing?
Senator McCain called on Trump "to set the example for what our country can and should represent" in a condemnation extraordinary for its length but ultimately pusillanimous, as have been the seemingly strong statements from Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.
This is because of their failure to withdraw their coveted seals of approval while piously explaining that the man should not be confused with their beloved party. Trump, of course, pushed back harder than ever after being dissed, withholding his "support" for Ryan and McCain while summoning additional bile for the Khans. The listless Ryan is deserving of an extra helping of scorn for being a Trump enabler because he fancies himself as the moral core of the GOP.
The mere thought of Trump setting a "good" example is risible. And it is sadly obvious that these pols have come to take him for granted, if only to be able to sleep at night. Let us hope that voters don't do the same because that's the only possible way Donald Trump will be elected.
POLITIX UPDATE IS WRITTEN BY SHAUN MULLEN, A VETERAN JOURNALIST AND BLOGGER FOR WHOM THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN IS HIS 12th SINCE 1968. CLICK HERE FOR AN INDEX OF PREVIOUS COLUMNS.
Photograph by Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post