It's refreshing when the legal structure's customary torture of plain language and common sense drops its baroque facade and gets straightforwardly real. Such a phenomenon occurred yesterday when, after Hawaii's attorney general asked that the courts examine Donald Trump's "veiled psyche" as the basis for his religious bigotry and unconstitutional acts, federal judge Derrick Watson "flatly rejected" the attorney general's request.
"There is nothing 'veiled,'" wrote the district court judge, "about this [early campaign] press release": "Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."
Trump's diseased psyche has been on naked display for years; as a politician, for nearly two years. He has "veiled" none of it. Indeed he boasts of it, as he did in the above, patently bigoted press release and accompanying news conference. He has left a written and video-taped trail of anti-constitutional sectarianism and pedestrian racism that would make a needless farce of any official investigation into his "psyche." Some fanatical crackpottery is more self-evident than others, and Trump's is as self-evident as populist crackpottery comes. This, Judge Watson simply pointed out.
Observes, further, the NY Times: "The legal debate" over Trump's second-round travel ban — already banned — "is likely to be a protracted and unusually personal fight for the administration, touching Mr. Trump and a number of his key aides directly and raising the prospect that their public comments and private communications will be scrutinized."
Will be? Will be scrutinized, as though such scrutiny will somehow be novel? Has there been some shortage of psychic surveillance that I've missed? For years the press surveyed (and ridiculed) Trump's flagrantly racist birtherism, which, of course, dripped with anti-Muslim bigotry as well. All of it was headline news, since a diseased psyche masquerading as a legitimate politician was legitimately newsworthy. From his idiosyncratic birtherism, Trump then flowered wholesale into the racist Torquemada whom, today, we embarrassedly call POTUS. And not an hour of it has gone uncovered or unscrutinized. Unless one limits one's "news" to that which vomits from talk radio, the psychic disorders of Trumpism have been everywhere unmasked.
A national and even global tragedy it was that universal scrutiny of Trumpism failed to keep its hero from the Oval Office. On the upside, American public opinion may now be turning a long-anticipated corner. Accompanying Trump's racism and religious bigotry has been some truly awesome presidential incompetence; whatever he's touched he has botched, and each passing day reveals him as just another orthodox Republican — precisely what so many of his voters voted against. Hence, as the Times' Charles Blow ventures this morning: "The con Donald Trump committed on his voters is slowly coming undone…. Some of the people who once supported him with vigor are being forced to remove the scales from their eyes. They are now the betrayed disciples of a false prophet."
Blow's is more than wishful thinking, for empirical evidence in support of his assessment is rolling in. We may with confidence dismiss the recent Morning Consult poll that shows Trump's approval rating having swollen to 52 percent: It's an outlier of almost laughable proportions. Rasmussen Reports — Rasmussen, mind you — finds Trump "at his lowest point since taking office with just a 45 percent approval rating." Gallup, too, "has Trump's approval numbers historically low, recently dropping five percentage points in so many days from 45 percent to now 40 percent." And a Fox News poll similarly says Trump's approval rating has taken "a 5-point hit"; it has fallen to 43 percent.
What is Trump's response to these cascading numbers? To double down, in Michigan and Tennessee, to his true believers. But their numbers he has already maxed out; it's the periphery of Trump's earlier support that is splintering and sidling away.
For this, we can thank the press's unremitting scrutiny of the president's bumbling, bigoted administration. Again, it's a pity that all its preceding scrutiny failed to keep an unveiled, diseased psyche from the White House. But it seems we have turned a very promising corner, and the presidential psyche will spend whatever time it has left in crippling disapproval.