Communist dictators are bad. Every Republican knows that! Except the Republican at the top of the ticket. At a rally in Wheeling, West Virginia, on September 30, Trump avowed a passionate devotion to the North Korean communist dictator, Kim Jong Un. “We went back and forth. And then we fell in love, okay? No, really, he wrote me beautiful letters, and they’re great letters. We fell in love.”

You can call this “the politics of bad faith,” as many Trump critics do and will. But it’s actually weirder than that. Republicans keep trying to revive themes from the Nixon and Reagan eras—and keep bumping into the truth that not only their president, but also many of their voters, believe exactly the opposite.

Republicans are conscious of Trump’s incitements at the time they occur. Yet they somehow cannot retain the memory of those incitements between the occurrences. “Republicans produce jobs, Democrats produce mobs” has become the party’s closing slogan—even as it urges voters to think of the election as a referendum on the record of Trump, the mob-leader-in-chief. How is this even done? Where does the mind find these resources? It’s beyond hypocrisy—it’s a double-folded state of being, and it will go on so long as the need to make excuses for Donald Trump continues.