It’s not that America has never been a disappointment before. It’s not that America has never been an embarrassment.
But nowhere in modern memory — not at Abu Ghraib, not in the 2000 election debacle, not in the Monica Lewinsky scandal — has it been as much of a disappointment and embarrassment as it is right now. Donald Trump is president-elect of the United States. God help us all.
Earlier this year, when Trump became the de facto nominee of the Republican Party, I said in this space that if we were truly the kind of nation that would elect such a manifestly unfit man to the presidency, we might as well know it. “Any country,” I wrote, “that would elect Donald Trump as president deserves Donald Trump as president. But the question is: Are we that country?”
Put aside for a moment Trump’s myriad failings. Pretend he isn’t a schoolyard bully. Pretend he isn’t a preening narcissist. Pretend he isn’t ignorant. Pretend he doesn’t lie. Just consider his treatment of the vulnerable among us.
Trump insulted women in the coarsest and most vulgar language imaginable, even bragging about sexual assault. And we refused to let that bother us.