Graves Registry: Waking up to the nightmare

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There is a potent line in "Mississippi Burning," Alan Parker's 1988 movie about murderous racism in the South. Frustrated by Willem Dafoe's by-the-book FBI agent, old-time lawman Gene Hackman turns to him and says, "These people are crawling out of the sewer, Mr. Ward. Maybe the gutter is where we outta be."

It is to Hillary Clinton's great credit that she has managed to keep clear of the gutter. No one running for public office has ever been provided with more opportunities for wading hip deep into the muck by an opponent who positively wallows in it.

If anyone had any lingering doubts about the subterranean source of the wellspring of vile comments offered by the Republican Party's nominee for president of the United States, they were pretty much laid to rest with the release of a video one short month from the election. In it, Donald Trump and George W. Bush's first cousin, Billy, are salivating over an actress standing outside of their bus, like a couple of over-testosteroned teenagers. Trump was 59-years-old at the time.

What Mr. Trump said won't be repeated here. And what he said won't move the portion of the electorate that has fatally mistaken crassness and ignorance as the kind of leadership qualities essential to rejuvenate America.

The concept of "undecided voter" at this particular moment in time seems as foreign to me as an "unsure disembarkation" from the Hindenburg, but sometimes people really need to see the flames before they decide it is time to abandon ship. It's way past time, people.

Mr. Trump's fan base, who alternate between howling and whining, only see sheen in the slime. Casting their votes for him will exact an epic revenge for their own disaffected lives. They aren't going to be dissuaded, no matter what depths he descends to. The fantasy that this supremely pampered, monomaniacal money-grubber (Elizabeth Warren's very apt assessment) is the workingman's savior would be laughable if it wasn't so tragic. Donald Trump won't give them a glance back, much less a hand up.

Trump remains what he has always been – fanatically devoted to his own wildly distorted vision of himself as the biggest, the best, and the richest. It's been nurtured by a lifetime of using the money he inherited from his father to insulate himself from anything that conflicts with his hyper-inflated self-esteem and to leverage his influence in a country that worships money, no matter where it comes from.

The vulgar Trump/Bush video shouldn't surprise anyone. The only surprise is the mock outrage being enacted by major players in the GOP. Up until his explicit boast that he has been an unbridled sexual predator for decades, many of these same people were endorsing his candidacy despite Trump's gushing expressions of admiration for Vladimir Putin's thuggish regime and the insults leveled at veterans, the disabled, minorities, immigrants, and the devout. All these fine people were content to collectively hold their noses and vote for him anyway.

Only a week or so ago, New Hampshire senator Kelly Ayotte was offering up Mr. Trump as an "example to children" (not to be confused with an example of a child). Ms. Ayotte has since backtracked on the remark, but it is hard to believe that anyone with such a startling lack of common sense judgment should really be in the United States Senate.

I think that Mr. Trump is going to lose badly in November and I wouldn't be at all surprised if it will elicit a huge sigh of relief from the hierarchy of the GOP. But the cautionary lesson will be lost on the Republican Party unless Trump is also responsible for the defeat of the enablers who fueled his rise as surely as hydrogen gas lifted the Hindenburg into the skies. As desperately as Reince Priebus and the rest of the Republican movers and shakers would like you to believe that Trump is an anomaly, he is really the logical result of the Republican Party's calculated catering to the worst instincts in the American psyche to excuse and deflect attention away from their slavish devotion to the best interests of the privileged among us.

The mass exodus within the upper ranks of the GOP in the wake of the latest Trump outrage is much too little far too late. Trump is the monster they created. Finally finding the courage to denounce him after the incalculable damage he has already done to this nation is a little like the Wells Fargo CEO's taking "full responsibility" for a swindling scheme that netted him somewhere in plush neighborhood of $200 million — money that he has no intention of voluntarily returning.

At least it is comforting to think that Ms. Ayotte and people like her might have plenty of time very soon to reevaluate their standards for what constitutes a role model.

— Alden Graves is a regular Banner columnist


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