In the end, the majority of Americans could be persuaded not to vote for Trump, as the candidate not complicit in the decline of America these past 20 years, only if they were so horrified by his vulgarity that they overlooked the poor performance of the Bush-Clinton-Obama regency and the ethical frailties of the Democrats. Trump’s offenses are matters of taste, not indictable transgressions, and the revolt of the FBI against the sleazy straddle of Director James Comey’s verbal condemnation of Mrs. Clinton as a perjurer while declining to indict her has blown the race open. Mrs. Clinton has tried to ignore the revelations that her chief aide, Huma Abedin, may have perjured herself, as she has ignored the FBI director’s assertion that she herself lied under oath. She merely “short-circuited” her FBI interrogators. Rabid partisans like James Carville and Tim Ryan have claimed a conspiracy between the Kremlin, the FBI, Trump, and nameless hobgoblins. It was like Alexander Haig’s conjuration of an “unknown spirit” that erased Rosemary Woods’s Watergate tape in 1973. Trump’s manager, Kellyanne Conway, accurately explained why what has occurred is more odious than Watergate. Richard Nixon, an outstanding president, was crucified, though he never lied under oath and there is no convincing evidence that he personally broke any laws. It is time to write history, including current history, straight.

The sadness of Peggy Noonan that the country has been let down by inferior candidates is understandable, but fails to credit Trump for unerringly following a trail no one saw: First he was Archie Bunker, then a lightning rod for excessive abuse, then impresario of the revelation of intolerable ethical strains in the Clinton campaign. Less creditable are the intelligent commentators like Daniel Henninger, who denounced the Hillary Clinton administration as if recounting history, Franklin Pierce or Warren Harding — implicitly expressing anger that Trump wasn’t a respectable enough Republican candidate to deny the move into the White House of the Clinton pay-to-play casino. And most distasteful of all are the sanctimonious conservative intellectuals who departed Trump to legitimize the Clinton sleaze factory, with the feigned majesty of those who felt entitled to name the Republican candidate, and whose public twitches and reflections were bound to shape the intellectual conscience of America. The friendship of decades with many of them prevents my mentioning names. The worst of them are those who accused Trump of fascistic tendencies and even of anti-Semitism. Everyone upon whom the country had the right to rely has failed: the traditional party elders, the national media, the conservative intellectuals, the engineers and conductors of the great liberal gravy train.