One of these things is not like the others. It was completely consistent with Trump’s campaign rhetoric for him to berate the president of Mexico on the phone. It was consistent with his campaign rhetoric to focus all counterterrorism efforts on Muslims and to ignore threats arising from white nationalists. It was consistent with his campaign rhetoric to have an executive order drawn up that basically erases all federal protections against discrimination in the name of protecting evangelical Christian “freedom.”

His base wanted and expected these things.

What they didn’t expect was for the president to berate the prime minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull.

Of course, once they realize that Trump berated Turnbull because he was asking him to do something nice for Muslims, his base will understand.

I’m not so sure that Republicans in Washington DC will understand, however. Whether it’s cavalierly risking war with China over Taiwan, it’s threatening NATO, being soft on Putin, offending and weakening Merkel in Germany, or the next outrage or the one after that, there must be some breaking point. The Muslim ban might sound good in theory to a lot of folks, but it’s making our military, diplomats and intelligence services twitchy to say the least. Republican officeholders have a lot more routine interaction with those folks than they do with the people in their districts.

I know we have a problem with alternative facts and fake news, and I know that officeholders are terrified of their bases of support, but there has to be a limit.

I have two theories of the case. One is that the Establishment GOP is hopelessly cowed that it won’t step in to do anything, ever.

The other is that things are so bad and so transparently bad and so inevitably going to get worse fast, that Trump’s presidency will be terminated so quickly that we’ll come to think of it as a joke experiment.

Knowing my readers as I do, I can anticipate that most folks will subscribe to the former theory. And, I admit, all precedent and most evidence points that way.

I just can’t shake the feeling (call it hackneyed optimism if you must) that the Trump presidency is so obviously awful that the need to end it will soon become inescapably obvious to all but the most ideologically blinkered lunatics.

In this latter case, though, I admit that I can’t predict what factor or combination of factors would trigger it, or whether it would be directed from within the White House or from overwhelming unrest or from unconscionable unconstitutional overreach or from elements in the armed forces or intelligence agencies. It could come suddenly like a thunderclap or as part of a painful, wrenching years long process.

On the one side, there’s a genuine populist uprising and real support for much of what Trump is doing. On the other side is the way he’s doing it and the certainty of national and probably international catastrophe. And there’s also a real, building populist uprising against Trump which is growing at shocking speed.

The cynic in me has the advantage of earning the right to his opinion, but another side of me says that what we’re witnessing is so out of bounds that it cannot possibly have any shelf-life.

I guess the optimist in me thinks Trump is so extremely awful that it will prevent him from becoming ‘normal’ and quickly expend the right-wing establishment’s ability or willingness to cover for him.

But, again, I can’t decide which theory is right.

What say you?

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