Donald Trump has virtually stopped trying to win this election by any conventional metric and is instead stacking logs of grievance on the funeral pyre with the great anticipation of setting it ablaze if current polls turn out to be predictive.
There is something calamitous in the air that surrounds the campaign, a hostile fatalism that bespeaks a man convinced that the end is near and aiming his anger at all within reach.
As his path to victory grows narrower, his desperation grows more pronounced.
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Last week a steady stream of women stepped forward to accuse Trump of some form of sexual assault, abuse or inappropriate behavior. Trump’s response has been marked by a stunning lack of grace and dignity, let alone contrition or empathy, a response much like the man himself.
Instead, he is doubling down on sexism.
On Thursday, Trump said of the People magazine reporter who accused him of forcibly kissing her: “Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”
He said Friday of the woman accusing him of groping her on an airplane: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.”
He also said of Hillary Clinton, “When she walked in front of me, believe me, I wasn’t impressed.”
His response to these charges has been surprisingly – and perhaps, revealingly – callow. He has mocked, whined, chided, bemoaned and belittled. It’s as if the man is on a mission to demonstrate to voters the staggering magnitude of his social vulgarity and emotional ineptitude. He has dispensed with all semblances of wanting to appear presidential and embraced what seems to be most natural to him: acting like a pig.
Furthermore, everything is rigged against him, from the media to the election itself. He’s threatening to sue The New York Times. He says he and Clinton should take a drug test before the next debate.
These are the ravings of a lunatic.
Trump is back to carelessly shooting off his mouth and recklessly shooting himself in the foot.
It is sad, really, but for him I have no sympathy. He has spent this entire election attacking anyone and everyone whom he felt it would be politically advantageous to attack. Trump, now that you’re under attack, you want to cry woe-is-me and have people commiserate. Slim chance, big guy.
The coarseness of your character has been put on full display, and now the electorate has come to cash the check you wrote.
Trump now looks like a madman from “Mad Men,” a throwback to when his particular privileges had more perks and were considered less repugnant. He looks pathetic.
He is a ball of contradictions that together form a bully, a man who has built a menacing wall around the hollow of his self. He is brash to mask his fragility.
But in a way, Trump was authentically made in America.
America has a habit of romanticizing the playboy as much as the cowboy, but there is often something untoward about the playboy, unseemly, predatory and broken.
For years, Trump built a reputation on shuffling through women, treating his exploits with jocularity and having too much of America smiling in amusement at the bad boy antics.
But he’s not a kid; he’s a cad.
And he seems constitutionally incapable of processing the idea that wealth is not completely immunizing, that some rules are universally applicable, that common decency is required of more than just “common” folks. He seems genuinely offended that he should be held to the same standards of truth, decorum and even law as those less well off.
Trump is in fact the logical extension of toxic masculinity and ambient misogyny. He is the logical extension of rampant racism. He is the logical extension of wealth worship. He is the logical extension of pervasive anti-intellectualism.
Trump is the logical extension of the worst of America.
With him you get a man who believes himself superior in every way: through the gift of fortune and the happenstance of chromosomes. He believes the rules simply don’t apply. Not rules that govern the sovereignty of another’s body, not rules that dictate decorousness.
And the Republican Party was just the right place for him to park himself.
When you have a political party that takes as its mission to prevent government from working instead of to make government work, a party that conflates the ill effects of a changing economy with the changing complexion of the country and is still struck by fever over the election of President Barack Obama, Trump is a natural, predictable endpoint.
Furthermore, Trump is what happens when you wear your Christian conservative values like a cardigan to conveniently slip off when the heat rises.
Trump is fundamentally altering American politics – coarsening them, corrupting them, cratering them. And America, particularly conservative America, has only itself to blame.
Republicans sowed intolerance and in its shadow, Trump sprang up like toxic fungi.