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Steinberg: Presidential campaign touches bottom, keeps digging

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Nekkid pictures of the would-be first lady!

Well, why not?

From the day Donald Trump descended the escalator at Trump Tower, declared Mexicans rapists, more or less, and launched a presidential campaign like no other, the idea of having sunk below all usual standards of taste, restraint or expectation has gotten a lot of use, if not been completely worn to a nubbin.

Each day brings some fresh shock to raise a tingle in our blown-out senses.

On Sunday, it was the New York Post splashing nude photographs of Melania Trump, taken from a 1995 photo shoot, across the front page, complete with stars to obscure the naughty bits.

Then Monday, a second front page, with nude lesbian photos of Melania Trump. It makes one shudder to think what Tuesday might bring.

OPINION

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This raises so many issues I hope you will forgive me if I just number and list them, in reverse significance.

1. In a world measured by clicks, does taste really matter? You don’t read the New York Post every day — it’s tawdry, though not typically this tawdry. But you’ll look at it now to check out the goods on Melania Trump. Which is what journalism has become, apparently.

2. The whole thing could be a ploy by the Trump campaign. The New York Post, remember, is his ally, prone to splashing unflattering shots of Hillary Clinton with her mouth hanging open and her eyes bulging out. Just as Donald Jr. tried to turn the plagiarism scandal around by claiming, incorrectly, that a line of President Barack Obama’s speech had been lifted from his speech, now candidate Trump, constantly assailed as a sexist, can play the aggrieved victim. The internet immediately smelt something fishy; the Huffington Post’s A.M. Mitchell called it, “Trump’s ham-fisted and crude attempt to plant a red herring into our political news cycle.” Rather than object, a Trump spokesperson described the photos as, “A celebration of the human body as art.”

3. You have to wonder how the same people who assailed Michelle Obama for encouraging schoolchildren to eat healthily can endure the prospect of a first lady who is, in essence, an Eastern European party gal who poses for soft-core porn. Are Evangelicals really that flexible? You’d think at one point the hypocrisy would build up inside them and they’d just pop like balloons

4. This is completely irrelevant. If you start listing compelling reasons why Donald Trump should never be president — beginning with that he’s a bigot and a demagogue, shockingly ignorant of world affairs, vindictive, thin-skinned, with an admiration for dictators and brute force and a sickening disregard for the Constitution — you can go on and on and you never get to this wife. It just doesn’t matter.

5. Assuming Trump didn’t plant the photos, he still drew this upon himself by focusing on the looks of women, abusing the fat and unattractive, lauding his wife in a tweet that compared her favorably to Ted Cruz’s wife. Trump cheapened our political discourse, which is really saying something, and none of us, least of all him, can act surprised at where we find ourselves. I almost said “at rock bottom,” but it is only early August. Something tells me we may be at the bottom, but the presidential campaign will be digging with all our collective might and there are hells below this one.

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