Lyons

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vul­ner­a­bil­ity and hu­mil­i­a­tion.”

“Moral im­be­ciles” was the 19th-cen­tury term. Pen­i­ten­tiaries are full of them, as is any in­sti­tu­tion where con­science­less kiss­ing up, kick­ing down and shameless pre­var­i­ca­tion pay off. Alas, there’s no known treat­ment. So­ciopaths are best un­der­stood as one of na­ture’s be­wil­der­ing lit­tle tricks, like ticks and water moc­casins.

The clas­sic study is Her­vey Cleck­ley’s 1941 book, “The Mask of San­ity.” But it’s when the mask slips that things can get strange.

My God, she had a cham­pagne party and in­vited Chan­nel 4?!

Who knew, for ex­am­ple, that mil­lions of Amer­i­cans would re­act with shame and hor­ror to the pol­icy of tear­ing brown-skinned urchins “in­vad­ing” the United States from their

moth­ers’ arms? Not Don­ald J. Trump, for whom such chil­dren are equiv­a­lent to ver­min “in­fest­ing” the coun­try, like cock­roaches, or rats.

My God, he kid­napped 2,500 chil­dren and held them hostage?!

Ut­terly lack­ing in nor­mal hu­man com­pas­sion, Trump had no way of an­tic­i­pat­ing how his bar­barous pol­icy would look to or­di­nary cit­i­zens. His clumsy ef­forts to lie his way out of the po­lit­i­cal trap his cru­elty and in­com­pe­tence cre­ated only made things worse.

Any­way, it looks as if a line may have been crossed. Never one for un­der­state­ment, Esquire’s po­lit­i­cal blog­ger Charles P. Pierce writes: “You can feel the dif­fer­ence in the air. The mem­bers of the gov­ern­ing party, un­easy about the prospects for this year’s midterms any­way, are fairly trem­bling at the mo­ment, see­ing in their mind’s eyes a hun­dred 30-sec­ond spots of weep­ing tod­dlers be­hind chain-link walls ...

“The coun­try’s head is clear­ing. The coun­try’s vi­sion is com­ing back into fo­cus, and it can see for the first time the length and breadth of the dam­age it has done to it­self. ... The hal­lu­ci­na­tory ef­fect of a re­al­ity-show pres­i­dency is dis­pers­ing like a foul, smoky mist over a muddy bat­tle­field.”

Ge­orge F. Will, The Wash­ing­ton Post’s longtime Repub­li­can columnist, has had it, urg­ing read­ers to sup­port Democrats in Novem­ber to pro­tect the Con­sti­tu­tion from Trump: “... to vote against his party’s cow­er­ing con­gres­sional cau­cuses is to af­firm the na­tion’s honor while quar­an­tin­ing him.”

GOP cam­paign con­sul­tant Steve Sch­midt has for­mally re­nounced the Repub­li­can Party, no longer the party of Lin­coln, but the party of Trump.

Con­ser­va­tive columnist Kathleen Parker laments that kid­nap­ping chil­dren “should be ap­palling to any­one with a heart­beat,

but guess what? It isn’t.”

She notes that while 58 per­cent of Repub­li­cans en­dorse Trump’s ac­tions, twothirds of Amer­i­cans do not.

You do the arith­metic. The over­all GOP share of the elec­torate is no­tice­ably di­min­ished. Other polls show that up­ward of 75 per­cent of Amer­i­cans ac­tu­ally fa­vor im­mi­gra­tion, cor­rectly see­ing it as es­sen­tial to the na­tion, as it has been through­out our his­tory.

Trump’s mask is def­i­nitely slip­ping.

Arkansas Times columnist Gene Lyons is a Na­tional Mag­a­zine Award win­ner and co-au­thor of “The Hunt­ing of the Pres­i­dent” (St. Martin’s Press, 2000). You can email Lyons at eu­gene­lyons2@ ya­hoo.com.

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