“I mean, you’ll have to give me a definition, because I really don’t know who they are. I can only say they have to stand down,” Trump said of the Proud Boys without condemning them. “Let law enforcement do their work.” He then added his usual condemnation of “this radical liberal Democrat movement” (Who?) and undiluted praise for law enforcement. He also lied about who’s responsible for the violence. “Almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing,” he said ignoring the deadly rally in Charlottesville, the violence in Portland, Ore., and the killing of two protesters in Kenosha, Wis.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) postulated that perhaps Trump misspoke. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) then announced, “[Scott] said it was unacceptable not to condemn white supremacists, and so I do so in the strongest possible way.” I don’t suppose they will drop support for Trump, even as the president threatens to pull the entire party down. (When the Democratic presidential and Senate candidates are statistically tied with Republican incumbents in South Carolina, you know the GOP is in deep trouble.)
Trump’s problems are not fixable, but the leaders of the Presidential Debate Commission — acutely aware that moderator Chris Wallace had failed to keep order and that their forum was unable to withstand Trump’s 90-minute temper tantrum — confessed they had to change the format. “Last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues,” the commission declared in the most anodyne terms imaginable. They might try cutting the microphone of the interrupter — or maybe a trap door. Perhaps after the third interruption, they should kick Trump out.
Whatever they do, it is worth noting that since the commission was set up in 1987, every nominee has been able to comport himself or herself appropriately without defiling the debates and the institution of the presidency. Not this one. Trump is so unfit for polite company and so utterly uncontrollable that special rules are needed to try to get him to behave normally.
Is there any wonder he is losing the women’s vote overwhelmingly? If Ronald Reagan was a father figure, Trump embodies the aura of an angry ex-spouse. Bullying, interrupting and bellowing incoherent insults will not win over these voters. In fact, I suspect a great many of them will not tune in again to see someone whose conduct offends and even outrages them.