On Wednesday, Donald Trump’s campaign took another ugly turn when Trump performed an Eric Kartman-esque impression of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski. Kovaleski has arthrogryposis, a congenital joint condition that restricts his arm movement, and Trump mocked Kovaleski’s disability at a Wednesday rally.
The national press was quick to charge Trump with sinking to a “new low,” but there was nothing new about that attack. Trump’s entire campaign has been a cesspool of arrogance and bigotry mixed together in a toxic embrace. Adding insult to injury, Trump has not backed down or apologized for his treatment of Kovaleski. Instead he has doubled down, demanding that the reporter apologize to him.
The Beltway press seems flummoxed that Trump has not apologized, just as they were bewildered when he refused to apologize to John McCain after mocking him for being captured in combat. They were also taken back by Trump not apologizing for talking about Megyn Kelly having “blood coming out of her wherever”.
Republican insiders are openly worried that Trump will win New Hampshire and South Carolina, and that he could carry Iowa, putting him in a strong position to win the GOP nomination. Some Republicans are on the brink of panic, because the Trump phenomena refuses to die, putting the GOP at risk of nominating an almost sure loser for the November general election.
Yet for all of their wailing and gnashing of teeth, the GOP party leadership should have anticipated this day would come. For years, the conservative establishment has encouraged, or at least tolerated, loudmouthed bullies like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity on Fox News. They have cultivated the proud arrogance and mean spirited rantings of Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage on AM talk radio. It is little wonder than, that Republican voters are looking for the same unabashed arrogance in their presidential candidate.
Trump has tapped into the resentment of angry old white people, who above all else, are mad that they have to apologize for the way they treat others. The GOP base feels victimized if they have to be “politically correct,” and apologize for racism, sexism, classism, homophobia or for mistreating people with disabilities. Donald Trump has been a godsend for these resentment voters.
While it may be hard for the rest of America to fathom Trump’s success, he has given voice to bullies who want to stop feeling guilty about being bullies. Trump offers bigotry without apology In fact, if he ever apologizes for being a jerk it would probably be the beginning of the end for him. Trump voters would view him apologizing as caving to “political correctness” and showing weakness. Republican voters are more than willing to vote for a mean-spirited bully, but they would have second thoughts about supporting a bully who backs down from a fight. As long as Trump continues to hurl insults and make offensive comments, he will continue to ride the crest of the bigoted resentful voters who now apparently own the Republican Party.