Can we get the 2020 presidential election underway, please? Like, right now?
Yes, yes—American presidential elections already are endless affairs, especially compared to the five-second-long events the Brits like to have at random intervals. Launching the next presidential contest more than two years before the vote would just make matters worse.
Still. Wouldn't it be lovely to spend a few minutes talking about something other than Donald Trump?
Consider the week just past, in which the principal news stories were:
- The Trump/Russia Intrigue, Chapter 147: Reactions to responses to points raised by release of Nunes memo.
- Stock Market Dives, Soars, Dives Again, and Look Who's Not Boasting About the Market Anymore (Trump, That's Who).
- Trump Said Democrats Not Clapping for Him Is Treason, and Isn't That Just Awful?
- Trump Wants a Military Parade, My God the Horror.
- Trump Aide Resigns Over Wife-Beating Allegations.
- The Trump/Russia Intrigue, Chapter 148: George W. Bush Says the Russians Meddled.
- Trump's Approval Numbers Nudge Upward, Possibly Affecting Midterm Elections.
- Hey, Check Out This Hilarious Video of Trump's Hair in the Wind!
And so on.
This is a bipartisan phenomenon, by the way. On Thursday, The New York Times opinion section included "Trump's Tool Kit Does Not Include the Constitution," "Trump's Worst Watcher," "Trump's Backward View of Immigration," and "President Trump, If You're Innocent, Why Act So Guilty?" Meanwhile, over at National Review, you could read "FISA-Gate Is Scarier Than Watergate," " 'Delegitimizing' Mueller? Don't Blame the Nunes Memo," "Was the FBI Out to Get Trump?" "A Defense of Evangelicals Who Support Trump," and "Why the 'Cult of Trump' Has Taken Hold," along with "The Prosecution Is Weakening," which argues that "Trump is gaining the trust of the people. His critics, not so much."
This isn't atypical. It's how the news cycle has looked day in, day out, for more than a year.
Granted: The president receives a great deal of coverage no matter who it is. Trump is an exceedingly unusual president, so one should expect an exceedingly unusual amount of attention would be paid to him.
Also granted: Trump's offhand comments about treasonous Democrats and his longing for a military parade are juvenile and asinine. No argument here. But their asininity is nothing new: Americans have known their president is a buffoon since before he assumed office. Even most of his supporters admit as much; they simply think his virtues outweigh his shortcomings.
At some point, perhaps we should just take Trump's antics as a given, instead of getting a case of the vapors every time he does something puerile or stupid. It's one thing to gape and point at the sunrise if you've never seen one before. After a few thousand sunrises, though, gaping and pointing starts to look a tad overwrought.
For some liberals, this is dangerous talk: It "normalizes" Trump, which only encourages him, and we must not let our guard down because he might, at any moment, declare martial law.
Possibly. On the other hand, it's also possible—and certainly more probable—that the country is simply going to muddle through another three years of a gawdawful historical mistake, the way someone muddles through a day at work with a bad hangover: sucking it up, grinding on, and reminding itself that however unpleasant the experience might be in the moment, This Too Shall Pass.
After all: Remember the dark warnings about what would become of America under George W. Bush. Respected and supposedly serious liberal intellectuals penned somber hand-wringers along the lines of "Fascist America, in 10 Easy Steps," protesters waved an endless supply of "Bush = Hitler" signs, and so on. Somehow, America survived.
The same thing happened when Obama took office: It was said (by some) that Obama would cancel the 2016 election, and conservatives would be rounded up and confined in FEMA concentration camps. Similar histrionics occurred during the Bill Clinton years; at one point the NRA even denounced federal agents as "armed terrorists" and "jack-booted thugs." Every administration is always the greatest threat to America since the one right before it.
No doubt: President Trump seems more likely to do something profoundly dangerous than any of his recent predecessors.
But until he does, maybe the whole country shouldn't act like it's stuck in an elevator with an angry cobra—one side warning that it could strike at any moment, the other side saying it would be worse to have been stuck in the elevator with Hillary—and change the subject.