*If Donald Trump were a comic book villian, his superpower would be the complete and utter immunity to shame.
One dictionary defines the word as “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.”
“Consciousness.” There’s your active ingredient.
In other words, for one to be shamed or embarrassed, there has to be the capacity to give a damn.
Like I said, you cannot shame Donald Trump. Caught in a boldface lie? Bounces right off him. Busted for mocking the physical disability of a reporter? Didn’t feel a thing. Exposed as racist, sexist, and just all around not too bright? Not a scratch.
A man who knows no shame—-I mean, none—-is damn near invincible.
Which is why, this time, I didn’t do it: when Trump stood in the lobby of Trump Tower during that infamous press conference and gave Nazis, the Klan and other white supremacists a pass, for once I didn’t declare, “Okay, this is it, this is the thing that takes him down.”
See, that’s what I said when any number of Trump’s Greatest Hits happened. Like his attack on John McCain’s military record. Or that time during the campaign when several women came forward, claiming that over the years Trump had casually groped them. Or his disrespect of a Gold Medal family. And who can forget that Access Hollywood bus audio tape?
Any one of those would bring down an elephant, let alone a political career.
Nevertheless, the man to whom all that luggage belongs is now president. And since moving into the White House, Trump has been in a morality-free fall that appears to have no bottom.
Still, when he insults our government’s intelligence community or engages in a threat-fest with North Korea, a segment of America anxiously asks: Is this the one? Will this mad, arrogant act of recklessness be enough for Republicans on Capitol Hill to finally say we have to do something about this man?
When he says or does yet another crazy thing, we always act surprised. We need to stop being surprised. Over and again during his presidential campaign, Trump told us exactly who he was.
He didn’t hint or imply this, but literally shouted it out during rallies at airplane hangars, on football fields and in arenas. He once insisted he could shoot a person on Fifth Avenue and his followers would still support him. Trump actually said this. Out loud.
He might be right. Trump’s rabid flock see no connection at all to his pre-election rhetoric and the violence in Charlottesville that left Heather Heyer dead and others injured. Hey, contend his fans–Charlottesville is not Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, and no one was shot, so what the hell.
But really—-shouldn’t Trump’s more than tacit defense of violent white supremacists be the thing that ultimately brings him down? Truly, this does feel like the almighty last straw on that poor camel’s back. But then, that’s what I swore the last time. And the time before that.
Mr. Mueller, I fully understand and applaud you taking your time. You want to get it right.
But hurry it up, man. Please.
Steven Ivory, veteran journalist, essayist and author, writes about popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio, TV and the Internet. Respond to him via [email protected]