Graves Registry: Trump and his bottomless bottoming out

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If it still exists in 20 years, the Republican Party will probably regard Donald Trump the way Chicago regards the fire, as Johnstown recalls the flood, or as San Francisco remembers the big quake. It commanded an awful lot of attention while it was going on, but no one particularly wants to ever go through it again.

More reasonable voices in the GOP are going to attempt some kind of intervention with their loose cannon candidate. You might recall that Mr. Trump promised to transform himself from the idol of the foam-at-the-mouth crowd into something more presidential once he secured the nomination. To the shock of at least a dozen people, that hasn't worked out too well. Mr. Hyde is still Mr. Hyde.

The purpose of an intervention is to bring the fact that someone is engaging in destructive behavior directly to that person's attention. It's shock therapy without actually using electricity. Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich are two of the names mentioned to participate in this dramatic confrontation. Aside from the obvious two pots and a kettle problem, I would speculate that their capacity to shock the imperiously impervious Mr. Trump would be equivalent to the voltage in a couple of flashlight batteries.

People have an endless capacity to fool themselves, as is plainly demonstrated in the amount of support Mr. Trump enjoys in America today. As far as Donald Trump being able to confront, much less understand or commiserate with the destruction of the political party he claims an allegiance to, Giuliani and Gingrich have a better chance of convincing the Motion Picture Academy that Steven Segal deserves an Oscar for his memorable body of work.

And I'm going to use that observation as a clever segue into a paragraph or two about Katharine Hepburn. One of the most respected and honored (four statuettes) actresses in history, Hepburn was also famous for her opinions, which she delivered as if Moses had brought them down as addendums to the Ten Commandments. She didn't believe in religion or an afterlife (you get buried and that's it), remained fiercely private in the world's most public business, had strange romantic inclinations towards mean, married, Irish Catholic alcoholics, and didn't much care for Meryl Streep ("Click, click, click.").

Ms. Hepburn said something once that I always remembered (and this is paraphrased from an increasingly unreliable memory). She said that people always know the right choice from the wrong one when they make a decision. That fact, however, doesn't guarantee that the right choice is always made because things like pride, stubbornness, tradition, or willful ignorance can infect a decision. Deep down, Hepburn argued, a person is always aware of the best choice and they forfeit the right to complain when the bad one they opted for goes sour. And it always does.

That brings me back to the choice every voter must make in the fall. We are continually being told that the American people have to decide between two particularly bad candidates. I don't agree with that assessment at all, but even if I was convinced that Hillary Clinton was a devious, unprincipled scoundrel, that would still lift her higher in my estimation than the unhinged Mr. Trump.

Imagine, the party that has always used patriotism and veterans and flags to justify (and mask) their devotion to the interests of a tiny fraction of the public, scrambling to cover for their five-time deferred candidate's public ridicule of the bereaved parents of a soldier who was killed in Iraq. Everything that Khizr Khan said at the Democratic Convention was absolutely true and everything that Donald Trump offered in his crude and cruel rebuttals was absolutely vile. Empathy is as foreign a concept to Trump as poverty. And yet he is probably the poorest rich man in the world.

Sen. John McCain's personal courage saw him through five and a half years of abuse as a prisoner of war, but he can't quite summon up the political courage to disavow any association with this dangerously ignorant (Russia won't invade the Ukraine!) egomaniac. Neither can House Speaker Paul Ryan, the GOP's poster boy for more of their trickle-down nonsense. They should both heed Katharine Hepburn's warning. Political expediency is notoriously fickle. Ryan and McCain should be far more concerned with what people are going to remember.

— Alden Graves is a regular Banner columnist.

The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bennington Banner.


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