More wrongdoing by Trump to add to the pile

A jury finds that the former president defamed and sexually-assaulted writer E. Jean Carroll. So what?

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Former U.S. President Donald Trump disembarks his plane “Trump Force One” at Aberdeen Airport on May 1, 2023 in Scotland.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump disembarks his plane “Trump Force One” at Aberdeen Airport on May 1 in Scotland.

Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty

For a habitual liar, former president Donald Trump can be amazingly candid. He will, occasionally, interrupt his countless falsehoods with astounding moments of candor. Such as when he said, with spot-on accuracy, at a campaign stop in Sioux City, Iowa early in 2016: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK? It’s, like, incredible.”

Yes, it is. Incredible. And commenting on him nonstop since June, of 2015, when he descended that escalator in the gaudy salmon glitz of Trump Tower, to pronounce immigrant Mexicans as criminals and rapists, I have yet to get my head around the missing piece that Trump provides for his supporters.

Permission, I suppose, to be as vile and perpetually injured as they obviously want to be. A TV star, descending from the Mount Olympus of gaudy wealth and tabloid celebrity, to bestow blanket permission on anyone who will pledge their unwavering loyalty, to assure lumpen red state America that they are the true victims of history, that every life that is not straight, white, Christian is an offense against them, one they can battle with all their energy, guiltless and unrepentant.

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Thus his being judged Tuesday by a New York jury as having defamed and sexually molested writer E. Jean Carroll — an assault, which, in another moment of absolute honesty, Trump copped to, on tape, as doing habitually to women who stumbled into his grasp — is added to his being impeached, twice, not to forget his continued delusional denial of an American presidential election. Plus his fomenting of an insurrection against the Capitol that led to the deaths of several law enforcement officers — if you can ignore that, what is a civil case that goes against him? Toss it onto the enormous steaming pile of Trump’s previous wrongdoings.

As I’ve said many times before, once you get into the habit of ignoring reality, the specifics of the reality being ignored hardly matter. Reality itself has been discarded by millions of Americans as being a mere fraud, a practice so imbedded now in the Republican Party that Trump could vanish tomorrow — no sign of that happening, alas — and his acolytes and imitators would proceed along his blazed path.

Where does that leave those not rolling at Trump’s feet like puppies? The tendency of the non-devoted is to, out of habit, thickly waive the latest lapse as significant, as more charges come to trial. One can always hope, right? Though hope is often bandied about — Lori Lightfoot, failed mayor, invoked it in her tearful, self-pitying farewell to the city she tried unsuccessfully to run — is not, in itself, a success strategy. One does not hope one’s way to victory.

But what else is there? Right now, the fairly elected president, Joe Biden, guilty of being 80 years old, and sometimes befuddled, sits well behind Trump in the latest Washington Post-ABC poll.

Polls are notoriously inaccurate, particularly this early in the election process. The hope — for those who put stock in hope — is that when the election comes around, we will not be returned to Trump 2.0, and the norm-shredding begin anew, with increased ruthlessness and efficiency.

E. Jean Carroll (center) walks out of federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday, May 9, 2023 after a jury found Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing her in 1996 and awarding her $5 million damages.

E. Jean Carroll (center) walks out of federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday after a jury found Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing her in 1996 and awarding her $5 million damages.

Associated Press

I hereby renounce hope. Any Democrat who feels anything other than palm-moistened terror at the prospect of the 2024 presidential election is living in a dream world, and has forgotten that Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state whose undeniable faults faded into triviality compared to Trump’s, did in fact lose to the most unfit man to ever run for the Oval Office in 2016. It happened before; it could happen again.

Can the illusion be shattered? Typically, only by losing. The Germans, having lost World War II, abandoned their esteem of Hitler — but only after the war. The only way decent Americans can claim their country back is to keep firmly in view that we face the same choice that has ripped our nation apart for the past eight years: whether we are to be a multicultural democracy where our leaders are elected by popular vote. Or whether we are to be subjects in thrall of a self-appointed strongman whose behavior is literally without limits. Should that happen, we can’t fault Trump — he is clear about what he is, and millions obviously like that. They intend to win, using any means, fair or foul. And if America lets them, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

A protester holds up signs outside a Manhattan Federal Court on Tuesday, May 9, 2023 after a jury found former President Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing E. Jean Carroll in a Manhattan department store in the 1990’s.

A protester holds up signs outside a Manhattan Federal Court on Tuesday after a jury found former President Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing E. Jean Carroll in a Manhattan department store in the 1990’s.

Getty

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