In Stage One, the afflicted has decided before 2016 that Donald Trump has serious, even strenuous, character flaws that disqualified him for the presidency or any other public office. Voting for him was never possible. For Stage One sufferers, a second Trump term could have effects that are frightening to contemplate. Stage One patients view the Trump presidency as a blotch in American political history.
In Stage Two, one dwells upon Donald Trump’s looks. One has put a fair amount of thought into the architecture of his hairdo, wondering how much time each morning he must devote to its re-creation and whether he employs a stylist to help. One notices that the length of his neckties covers up his ample alderman as does the way he sits, leaning forward in his chair. Photographs of him in golf apparel are studied for what they reveal of the impressive breadth of his backside. The smugness of his smile is registered, the smallness of his hands always noted.
In Stage Three, one is ready to believe anything—anything pernicious or salacious, that is—about Mr. Trump and to reject anything he has done that might be good for the country, if only because he is the man who did it. One is ready to believe that he diets exclusively on the meat of endangered species, that there is something weirdly illicit about his relationship with Vladimir Putin, that he secretly admires Kim Jong Un’s wardrobe. For Stage Three sufferers, nothing about President Trump can be totally disbelieved.