Well, Donald Trump held on. He held on by the skin of his teeth. You knew it was coming. You knew it was inevitable. But it was glorious to watch him barely control himself.
This morning at around 5am EDT, the dam broke loose. Trump finally went on the tirade he'd been holding back for four days. And the subject of his ire wasn't, of course, the woman who had shellacked him in the debate, but another woman, a Latina, a former employee, who had dared to speak out against him.
Nothing Trump says or does shocks any longer. And that's a grave problem. The outrageous, the outright evil, has been normalized. It's become routine. We've been deadened to the lies, the vitriol, the incitement. Now Alicia Machado is the target of his rage. But next week it will be someone else. There's always someone to blame for his failures. He never fails; those around him fail him, or conspire against him. He is the great, virtuous knight, sent to save a fallen America from itself. Anyone who gainsays him is a subhuman to be crushed.
Imagine if Barack Obama went on a tirade like this. Hell, imagine if George W. Bush did. Our politics have become so debased in only eighteen months that we barely notice this. It now seems normal that a presidential candidate goes on Twitter rampages, releasing his dark id for all the world to see. Any half-decent media would have mocked Trump off the stage at the inception of his campaign. And, at first, he was mocked. He was seen as a joke candidate.
It's only when his hateful message gained traction that the media took notice. And it took notice not by being aghast, but by seeing ratings gold. It mainlined Trump like the worst junkie. It rode him to its highest ratings in years. Trump was good for business.
Sure, now, after one humiliation too many, the media has turned against the golden goose. And I don't think it's too late. But we will have to live with the consequences of a Trump campaign for years. Nazis and fascists have crept out of their dark rocks to take almost center stage in Republican politics. A polarized electorate is even more polarized now. White voters have been given a succinct language of grievance which will resonate for several election cycles. The commonwealth will be rent before it can be sewn back together. All because ad space had to be sold.
I salute Alicia Machado. It takes courage to take on a sociopath, especially one who has the power Trump has. Her courage will be an asset to Hillary Clinton in her campaign as the national salvation candidate. But a large part of me wishes Mrs. Clinton were facing a more typical Republican opponent. That opponent might have a better chance against her; but I wouldn't feel as if the Republic were on a precipice.
Donald Trump repeatedly shows us who he is. And a large subset of our citizenry sees no problem with that. That is the damage we must undo.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Here is Alicia Machado's response to Trump's rage tweets. A needed antiseptic to the virulence.