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That the Republican party continues to rationalize Trump’s radical unfitness for his office is not exactly shocking. What is more problematic is the constant rationalization of the mainstream media, whose members remain largely incapable of calling things by their true names.



The need to lie about Donald Trump constantly is an inescapable consequence of the neutral arbiters between Both Sides frame. Trump and the Republican party can indeed be defended, even in the impeachment context, but only by arguments that are too brutal for anyone in the respectable media to make straightforwardly.

That’s because an honest defense would have to be straight-up authoritarian: America is a corrupt country that needs to be reformed by a strong leader, and that leader cannot be constrained by what Stalinists called “bourgeois values” and Nazis referred to as decadent cosmopolitanism.

Another one of our rules is that it is totally out of bounds to describe how people are adopting the mental habits that dominated classic totalitarian regimes, if those people happen to be Americans who occupy socially respectable positions.

But that is where the Republican party is headed at light speed. Donald Trump is more a symptom than a cause of that, although he is both. This too cannot be said in words of one syllable, at least by anyone who wishes to retain a reputation as a serious person.

The alternative is to lie, almost without knowing it, which is what every journalist and pundit who calls a frankly insane rant like Trump’s letter yesterday “sharply worded,” or “fiery” does every day. That is the price one must pay to remain respectable and serious, and almost every respectable and serious person is willing to pay it.

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