One big reason is that many Americans — not a majority, but many — think, talk, and see the world as Trump does. Focusing on what is aberrant about him — the narcissism, the garish materialism, the fragile ego, the fathomless capacity to lie — threatens to overshadow what is all-too-typical about him. Maybe he’s your uncle, father, or grandfather; surely you’re acquainted with a roughly 70-year-old white American man who plays a ton of golf and watches Fox News Channel. Ask him how he feels about brown-skinned immigrants in general and Haitians in particular. Ask him what he thinks are the root causes of inner-city violence. You don’t need to ask him. You already know. In this respect, Trump ally Chris Ruddy was not wrong to diminish shithole-gate as mere “kitchen table talk.”
Notice what has happened to the average Trump approval rating since the release of Fire and Fury and his vulgar disparagement of entire nations: if anything, a slight uptick. But this shouldn’t surprise us. There is no more leverage over the electorate to be gained by spotlighting Trump’s abhorrent character and common intellect. Blind partisanship is certainly a factor. Yet the simple and depressing fact is that at least 35 percent of Americans hold views on race that are at least as abhorrent as Trump’s. And they are not impressed by the intellectual class’ harrumphing about the president’s every stupid remark and solecism.