The Republican front-runner, who apparently was appalled to learn that women must occasionally visit a restroom, continues to not only maintain his polling lead, but to increase it. I am generally skeptical of early primary polling, especially in a field this large. But I remain fascinated by the number of respondents who are willing, or even eager, to announce their continued – or, stranger still, new – support for the current front-runner, in spite of his recklessness. Perhaps we should refer to him as The Shape – that’s how the Michael Myers character was credited in the original Halloween. Recall in the final scene, we expect to see Myers’ body still lying on the grass after falling from a second story window upon being shot; but no one is there (“It was the boogeyman,” Laurie says. Dr. Loomis replies: “As a matter of fact, it was.”). No matter how much harm he inflicted, and no matter how hard his adversaries violently tried to fight him off, The Shape kept surviving, film after film.
So to further explore the fascinating question of what it is about this man that seems to overcome normal voter sensibilities about seriousness and decency, here’s a holiday thought experiment.
Imagine, hypothetically, that Marco Rubio was the leading Republican candidate for President. Rubio was born in Miami in 1971, to parents who were Cuban immigrants. Now imagine that the Democratic nominee for President worries deeply that Rubio will win the presidency. He’s young, fresh, and compelling, and she believes he is a serious threat to her.
So the Democrat begins to spread a story that Rubio was not born in the United States. Rather, the Democratic nominee claims that Rubio may have been born in Cuba to Cuban parents. Also, the nominee claims, Rubio looks too young to be in his forties, and he is likely in his early thirties, probably 33, and that he would not be 35 at the time he takes the oath of office, thereby disqualifying him from the presidency (as would his Cuban birth). The Rubio camp releases his official birth certificate, which shows conclusively that he was born in Miami in 1971, but the Democratic nominee believes it to be a fake. She also pays to send investigators to Florida and Cuba to ascertain where Rubio was really born, and when. The nominee’s “findings” are never released, and the claim is repeatedly debunked, but the Democrat clings to the theory (and is ceaselessly mocked for doing so). Some of her supporters encourage her by perpetuating the theory. She never relents, but instead, when questioned about the controversy, simply declines to comment on it.
Now imagine Republican reaction to this controversy. Republicans would be incredulous. Is there anyone among them who would not think that the Democratic nominee was demonstrably unfit for the office of president after this hypothetical episode?
For what it’s worth, go ahead and take my hypo above and now add to it the following hypothetical facts: the Democratic nominee also praises Vladimir Putin’s leadership but calls highly educated Americans “stupid” and calls successful Americans “losers;” she minimizes John McCain’s service because he was captured and held as a prisoner of war, saying she likes people who were not captured; she makes fun of a reporter with a physical disability; she proposes excluding all Christians from entering the country, claiming that they are a security risk because a few Christians have adopted extremist interpretations of the Bible, which the extremists say justifies certain kinds of mass violence; and she said it was disgusting that Marco Rubio took a bathroom break during a debate.
Setting aside one’s views about where the candidates stand on policy, does the above hypothetical describe someone who is fit for the presidency? Knowing these things about the candidate, would it really matter where she stood on policy? In other words, is there anything the candidate could say about her views on policy that would change these other things about her and make her fit for the presidency? Or is it just that she carries herself with a sense of confidence about herself and is easily dismissive of her critics? I’m not trying to pick on anyone. I’m just fascinated by what it is that would compel sensible people to choose not to hold one particular candidate accountable for so many inexplicable acts.