For Trump, awfulness isn’t just acceptable — it’s part of his brand. His vulgarity, his crassness, his anti-intellectualism, his corruption and his bigotries are understood to be part of who he is, if not the whole of who he is. It’s what defines him, so when he displays those characteristics, it surprises no one. Outrage manifests in the gap between expectations and reality, and while our expectations for the office of the president are high, our expectations for the current president are not.
Even Trump supporters — or maybe, especially Trump supporters — are not surprised. When evangelical leaders performed Olympic-level moral gymnastics to justify their support of a twice-divorced atheist with a history of lying, cheating and breaking virtually every commandment in The Book, they characterized him as “flawed.” He was, they said, an instrument who could be used by God to advance a white evangelical agenda. By this logic, Satan himself could get a ringing endorsement. But more important, characterizing Trump’s character deficiencies as “flaws” minimizes his horrifying moral bankruptcy.