Sure, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson is reliably, predictably liberal. It’s no surprise that he recommends that readers of his column vote for the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. But the first couple of paragraphs of his column this morning nonetheless demonstrate the change the Trump candidacy has brought about in the way we think and talk about politics, thus:
On the debate stage Sunday night, we saw a lifelong public servant with total grasp of the issues and concrete plans to take the nation forward. And we saw a fraudulent boor who knows nothing about anything and brags about groping women. Let’s not pretend anymore that we have an actual choice.
Let’s not pretend there is any question about who “won” the debate, because only one candidate — Hillary Clinton — actually debated. Donald Trump did nothing but spew dangerous and incoherent nonsense, demonstrating in the process how fortunate we are that his electoral prospects finally seem to be circling the drain.
All the smart people seem to agree that Trump’s electoral prospects are bleak. Political numbers maven Nate Silver currently rates the chances of a Clinton victory at 83 percent. Nate Cohen of the New York Times makes it 87 percent. I don’t like these odds-making exercises, but I confess I check both Nates every day. It’s hard to imagine how Trump would climb out of the abyss into which he has taken his party. But, as the philosopher Lawrence Peter Berra noted, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
I assume Trump will yet try to do something to drag Clinton down to his level. (It’s way too late to imagine that he, himself, will rise to a higher level.) But just getting this far — for a man with obnoxious personality, his uninspiring life story, and his total inability stop lying or lay out a coherent vision of what he would do as president to get the nomination of a major American political party — tells us things about ourselves, our system, our vulnerability to authoritarian demagoguery, that cannot and should not be ignored.