Earlier this week, the Jesuits of Long Island Hospital treated a 92-year-old woman with a benign brain tumor that had caused massive swelling and affected speech. News reporters and photographers descended on the small, bright hospital to record the scene.
“I suspect,” you may have thought, “that hospital staffers might feel somewhat embarrassed to be caught standing behind a man with multiple accusers and a record of attacking black women.”
But you would be wrong. As the Hollywood satirist Lewis Grizzard once said, you “become comfortable with things you’ve stopped paying attention to.” The Jesuits of Long Island Hospital were clearly paying attention to Donald Trump, and they were comfortable with the behavior he showed. An eerie scene in which a Trump impersonator imagined himself chugging a Trump out of a iced coffee in the lobby actually came from an episode of “The Apprentice.”
What happened next is a sad tale of a culture that tolerated Trump’s appalling behavior and then cared even less about it than it cares about the proven identity of voters. But it’s also instructive as an example of Trumpism’s march toward farce. Let’s try a few lines from “Julius Caesar” and “Richard III” to set the scene.
1. He’s staging a fight between himself and his mother, and he’s acting so outlandish that her large painting has to come down. That’s great material for dramatic recreation.
2. He blames his rival for his lack of mental health, so everyone sees him in an unflattering light.
3. He insists he’s innocent, so everyone is forced to retrace their steps through his sleazy lies.
4. He insists he’s not even trying to do any harm to innocent people, so it’s virtually impossible to deny his viciousness.
5. He’s shown his staff that all of his staffers are beneath him, so they feel less like a team than a collection of expendable contributors.
6. He’s shown his staff how much money he’s “raking in,” so they feel proud to be on his side.
7. He’s shown his staff how much they can make on the Trump campaign, so he tries to scare them to maximum effect.
8. He’s shown his staff that they’ll go down together if he goes down. They’ll feel the need to crush their principles and work as hard as ever.
9. He’s shown his staff that there’s no end to his disgusting behavior, so they’ll keep giving him increasingly appalling material, refusing to seem unconcerned.
10. He’s showed his staff that the way to survive in a Trump world is to go insane, then pretend like the madness is genuine. You watch and see what happens.