John Avlon writes: “I’ll keep you in suspense.”
That was Donald Trump, candidate for president of the United States, treating the peaceful transfer of power like a reality-TV show cliffhanger in the final presidential debate.
The hyperpartisan hype man was either teasing the opening season of Trump TV or promising a constitutional crisis. Either way, it’s a display of stomach-churning disregard for our democracy by a celebrity demagogue whose narcissism has already stained our political history.
By now, we’re now used to The Donald treating this election as a vehicle for his vanity. Most sober Republicans have slowly come to the horrified realization that they have a manifestly irresponsible man at the top of their ticket. But the radius of damage seemed contained to the GOP and the quality of our civic debates. Donald changed that Wednesday night.
Once the act-like-an-adult sedatives wore off around 30 minutes into the third debate, he lapsed into his reflexive lying and insult comedy. He lied about insulting a disabled reporter. He lied about his past praise of Putin and his call for Japan to pursue nukes. He called his opponent a “nasty woman” and said she shouldn’t be allowed to vote, let alone run for president.
But those were just the fetid appetizers before the rotten main course that instantly defined the third debate.
The most troubling rumble from Trump’s flailing final weeks has been his suggestions that maybe he wouldn’t accept defeat. He teased this riff repeatedly to crowds only to have it be denied by his designated straight man, Mike Pence. But Trump went full wingnut with his comments in the third debate, refusing to say whether he would accept the results of the election if—as the polls show is likely—he loses on Nov. 8.
Put down the popcorn for a second. Remember that this election is real. It is not a reality show. [Continue reading…]