Trump’s last straw

It’s not enough for Repub­li­cans to de­nounce Trump’s lat­est out­rage; for the sake of their party and their coun­try, they must dis­avow his can­di­dacy as well

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NATION & WORLD -

We have long thought it could not be clearer that Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump was un­fit to lead the na­tion. But the video re­leased Fri­day show­ing a 2005 con­ver­sa­tion Mr. Trump had with tele­vi­sion host Billy Bush in which he bragged about sex­u­ally as­sault­ing women, speak­ing about them in terms so lewd that we can­not be­gin to print them in this news­pa­per, should have been the fi­nal straw. Should have been, that is, if Mr. Trump had not man­aged to make things worse with a sup­posed apol­ogy that turned in­stead into a prom­ise to at­tack Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton based on her hus­band’s decades-old in­fi­deli­ties. Prom­i­nent Repub­li­cans from across the na­tion have now called on him to drop out of the race so that he can be re­placed with a more suit­able nom­i­nee — per­haps his run­ning mate, In­di­ana Gov. Mike Pence.

We have no il­lu­sion, of course, that Mr. Trump will drop out. He has no sense of shame what­so­ever, and he is sur­rounded by too many peo­ple who refuse to rec­og­nize his faults or cling to ab­surdly false equiv­a­len­cies be­tween his re­peated dis­gust­ing be­hav­ior and Ms. Clin­ton’s oc­ca­sional mis­steps. GOP by­laws leave no plau­si­ble way for Repub­li­cans to force him off the ticket, so there is lit­tle doubt that he will re­main on the bal­lot. But ev­ery Repub­li­can can­di­date — up to and in­clud­ing Mr. Pence — now has the choice of whether to dis­avow him. Those who merely crit­i­cize his com­ments but con­tinue to sup­port him — peo­ple like House Speaker Paul Ryan — can no longer make any claim that they are put the na­tion’s honor above fealty to their political party.

It is true that the United States faces a wide ar­ray of is­sues big­ger even than Mr. Trump’s ego. Tonight’s de­bate, a town hall-style en­counter in which mem­bers of the pub­lic will select ques­tions, in­clud­ing some de­ter­mined through in­ter­net vot­ing, was de­signed to move away from the in­tense fo­cus on the can­di­dates’ per­sonal qual­i­ties and onto is­sues that have got­ten short shrift, like So­cial Se­cu­rity and the en­vi­ron­ment. Af­ter eight years of par­ti­san grid­lock, we need to have an elec­tion that pro­vides the na­tion with clear di­rec­tion on is­sues like those. The edi­to­rial we planned to run to­day urged vot­ers to take the chance to delve into such ques­tions, but Mr. Trump has proven him­self to be so fla­grantly un­suited for the pres­i­dency that such a de­bate is sim­ply not pos­si­ble.

The pres­i­dent isn’t just the per­son who gives di­rec­tion to Amer­ica’s do­mes­tic and for­eign pol­icy. He or she must also be some­one who ex­em­pli­fies Amer­i­can val­ues. Ms. Clin­ton’s most ef­fec­tive ad­ver­tise­ments have been those show­ing chil­dren watch­ing video clips of Mr. Trump in­sult­ing and de­grad­ing women, im­mi­grants, Mus­lims, mi­nori­ties and the dis­abled. How can we raise a gen­er­a­tion of peo­ple who will honor and re­spect one an­other when we also elect a man who shows com­plete dis­re­gard for any­one other than him­self?

Mr. Trump has given his fel­low Repub­li­cans no end of op­por­tu­ni­ties to say enough is enough — his out­ra­geous den­i­gra­tion of Mex­i­cans as crim­i­nals and rapists; his de­spi­ca­ble treat­ment of Fox News jour­nal­ist Megyn Kelly af­ter the first GOP pri­mary de­bate; his racist in­sult to the in­tegrity of an In­di­ana-born fed­eral judge of Mex­i­can de­scent; his un­con­scionable feud with a Gold Star fam­ily; his pig­gish and sex­ist treat­ment of for­mer Miss Uni­verse Ali­cia Machado. And now this, boast­ing that he can grope any woman he likes be­cause of his wealth, power and fame. No one, not even his wife, can de­fend that. Repub­li­can of­fi­cials must now grap­ple with this re­al­ity: If they’re not against him, they’re for him. His­tory will be the judge.

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