Letter: How could Trump get any worse?
Donald Trump goes through political overseers like a golfer with a high handicap frantically searching his bag for the club that will help him break 90. First there was thuggish Corey Lewandowski with his penchant for roughing up reporters, protesters and other naysayers, whom CNN unaccountably took on as a commentator. Up next was Paul Manafort, who has interesting ties to Russian interests and especially to a pro-Russian Ukrainian nabob. And now Steve Bannon of Breitbart, a bunch so far to the right that the line between conservatism and fascism has long since been breached. I hesitate to say that this succession is a matter of bad, badder, baddest, because everything Trump does he does to the same degree. He doesn’t clarify or add nuance, walk it back or reconsider. He doubles down. This gives Trump’s pronouncements an eternal quality: No matter what developments, Trump is unchanging. He doesn’t get worse, because he started out as bad a you can get. The advent of Bannon, with the hiring of the malignant toad Roger Ailes, the former Fox News perpetrator who got tossed for multiple sexual harassments — a hideous lecher handling attractive flesh — certainly means continuing nastiness. Whether it’s going to be nastier than previously depends, again, on whether you think there’s room for Trump to get worse.
Political observers think the Breitbart-Ailes elevation means that, within the Trump campaign, the let-Trump-be-Trump camp has beaten the get-him-to-focus camp. A metaphor for this is whether Trump freewheels or reads off the teleprompter. This is both good news and really quite terrible news. It’s certainly good news that Trump being Trump can’t win the presidency of this old democracy. But the Trump phenomenon has already caused great harm to the republic and will cause it through the depredations of Breitbart and Ailes. People feel freer to vent their hatred than before, and there have been reports of Hispanic, immigrant and Muslim baiting among schoolchildren, who, of course, say what their parents say. As an explanation for this nasty business, some say the Trump base is suffering economically. The hell you say. Trump and the Trumpians are all about racial bigotry. Their political leanings are not conservative or libertarian or toward a democratic form of populism. Their creed is an anti-democratic authoritarianism. They like the unchanging sameness of the Trump line and dislike the necessary gray areas and multiple contingencies of political liberty. After Nov. 8, the bigger challenge will be to counter this developing enormity.
Meanwhile in Aspen: a private fundraiser for Trump. $25,000 will get you in. Disgusting, of course, but is it any more disgusting than the Trump norm?
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