It seems 100 years ago now. In March of 2016, Donald J. Trump became the first candidate for president to allude to the size of his private parts on national television. “I can guarantee you, there’s no problem,” he volunteered during a Republican presidential debate that veered into mean and uncharted territory.
So much for the party of Lincoln and Reagan. Here was a signpost that declared: Political convention is about to be turned on its head. Let the circus begin.
Now a day seldom passes when some strangeness or scandal doesn’t offend the old norms. There are so many bizarre moments that we can’t keep track of them all.
Trump supporters don’t care. Like many Americans, they’re fed up with the anemic state of the two political parties and with politicians who spend their days pretending to do something. Trump supporters like it when their man dumps on political norms and the people who practice them.
Still, it can’t always be easy being a Trump supporter. As role models go, he doesn’t exhibit all of the traits we associate with admirable human beings. Even if you like Trump, you know this to be true.
Plus, he seems addicted to the chaos that leaves confusion and dysfunction in its wake. The Trump White House is awash in self-inflicted wounds that make it more difficult for his administration to govern.
And then there are all those contradictions.
If you’re a blue-collar worker, you appreciate his many promises to help working men and women, but you wonder when he’s going to get started. Here’s a president who promised to drain the swamp, and then created an administration by and for Wall Street.
If you own a business or a farm, you like his anti-regulatory stance, but you worry about a trade policy that threatens to shut off important world markets.
If you’re a social conservative, you like his opposition to abortion, but you wish you didn’t have to answer for his marital infidelity and his narcissism. Humility and moderation are not his strong suits.
And if you want to curb immigration, you’re now disappointed he’s talking about a deal that would grant amnesty to 1.8 million undocumented immigrants. He said he wouldn’t do that.
For Trump supporters, the good news is that he keeps everyone off-balance, wondering what unconventional and contradictory thing he will do next.
And the bad news is that he keeps everyone off-balance, wondering what unconventional and contradictory thing he will do next.
After a year in office, Trump has made himself into the least-popular president in history. His approval ratings languish in the 30s, and a poll last week showed that his approval ratings are below 50 percent in 38 of the 50 states.
For a president who won majorities in 30 states only 15 months ago, this is not good news. Most of the states that elected him are now having second thoughts.
Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are — simultaneously — afraid to challenge him and afraid that he will become an albatross around their necks.
Trump, of course, is a pitchman first, last and always. He has spent his life selling deals and, when necessary, exaggerating, embellishing and cherry-picking information in the name of making the sale.