Trump's Arizona speech proves his shock-comic act has jumped the shark

Call it the Andrew Dice Clay conundrum: If your entire schtick is based on shock value, eventually the audience grows inured, and the lack of substance becomes embarrassingly plain.

Trump made assertions in Arizona Saturday night that might once have garnered buzz (on Sunday morning, at least). But they’re getting little play. In its writeup of the rally, Politico said Trump “issued a blistering response to Democrats” and that he “opened his speech by falsely claiming ‘proof’ that the 2020 election was ‘rigged.’” A more telling fact is that this “blistering response” was not deemed worthy enough to be the site’s lead story. What might have spawned outrage and wagging tongues a few years prior now elicits a collective chorus of yawns.

Here’s the thing about moving the Overton Window: The process of shifting standards and assumptions matters greatly at the societal level. It’s bad when news consumers become desensitized to a former president erroneously claiming an election was stolen. It also cannibalizes one of Trump’s greatest assets: his ability to shock and awe. His shtick is tired, and that can often equate to a professional death sentence.