Trump is the political version of a pickup artist, and Republicans — and America — went to bed with him convinced that he was something other than what he is. Trump inherited his fortune but describes himself as though he were a self-made man.
He has had a middling career in real estate and a poor one as a hotelier and casino operator but convinced people he is a titan of industry. He has never managed a large, complex corporate enterprise, but he did play an executive on a reality show. He presents himself as a confident ladies’ man but is so insecure that he invented an imaginary friend to lie to the New York press about his love life and is now married to a woman who is open and blasé about the fact that she married him for his money. He fixates on certain words (“negotiator”) and certain classes of words (mainly adjectives and adverbs, “bigly,” “major,” “world-class,” “top,” and superlatives), but he isn’t much of a negotiator, manager, or leader. He cannot negotiate a health-care deal among members of a party desperate for one, can’t manage his own factionalized and leak-ridden White House, and cannot lead a political movement that aspires to anything greater than the service of his own pathetic vanity.
WE KNEW ALL THAT SHIT. The GOP knew all that shit. They had oppo research on him from the primaries, they had Obama telling them Trump was likely in hock to the Russian mob, and we’re supposed to believe they were taken in by his persona? He spent all of the primaries shit-talking the GOP, telling them how much he’d bought them for, and calling them names. They were in no way unaware that he was a two-bit con man.
The GOP didn’t care, because they wanted to win. Paul Ryan wanted to repeal Obamacare and take away the benefits that made Paul Ryan possible. Mitch McConnell wanted to hold his caucus of fascists and fools together and keep dining out on his unearned reputation as some kind of master strategist. Half the Internet punditry was plenty happy to go along with Trump because they’re not very bright and TV lights are shiny, and the other half saw an opportunity to burnish their reputations by being showily against Trump without really doing anything.
His voters didn’t care because electing him let them say fuck you. Sure, you can find some Trump supporters to say they thought he was a dealmaker or a businessman, but by and large they will tell you why they voted for him: To say fuck you to a system that didn’t cater to their interests. To stick it to some imaginary liberals in the city that Fox News told them look down on their values. To break everything because breaking things feels powerful and good.
I just … I mean, did anyone in the GOP not know Donald Trump was a fucking clown after his 2012 dance of “I’m not running … but maybe … but maybe not … but BIRTH CERTIFICATE … but no?” They tried to sink him in every way they knew how and after all of that, after he accused Ted Cruz’s dad of killing JFK and called out Marco Rubio’s micropenis, they decided with full knowledge that they’d rather win with him than lose without.
We’re supposed to believe they were, what, dazzled by the flap of dead squirrel on his head? Nobody who likes Trump is under any illusions about who they’re going to bed with. To let them off the hook and cast their willful meanness as some kind of tragicomic self-delusion is more charity than I’m willing to grant after a week of phone calls to save newborn babies who need chemo.