Trump supporters believe that Trump critics, especially conservatives like myself, are too delicate. What mattered, we were told, is not what Trump said, not what he tweeted, but what Trump did.
Like Bill Clinton’s supporters in the late 1990s, they invoked the concept of compartmentalization. Trump may have said some unnecessarily provocative things, but the country was doing great under his stewardship—and besides, no real cost was associated with his regrettable words or deeds. On top of that, they believed, Trump was entertaining. Politics had become staid, even boring, before Trump; his presidency brought sparks, energy, excitement…
The day after Trump was inaugurated, I wrote, “A man with illiberal tendencies, a volatile personality and no internal checks is now president. This isn’t going to end well.”
It couldn’t end well. Donald Trump could not outrun events forever. Living in his hall of mirrors would eventually become too disorienting; the United States couldn’t indefinitely escape the costs of his massive misjudgments and staggering incompetence, his mendacity and nihilism, his assaults on norms and institutions.