Evening, August 22nd, 2017, a convention center in Phoenix. It’s Donald Trump’s true coming-out party as an insane person. It looks like the same old Trump up there on the stage: same boxy blue suit, same obligatory flag pin and tangerine combover, same too-long reddish power tie swinging below his belt line like a locker-room abomination. Earlier this year there were efforts to make Trump stop wearing his suit jackets open – designer Joseph Abboud said buttoning up was a “very visible way of showing he knows how serious the job is” – but Donald Trump doesn’t take advice, not even the gently benign kind.
That makeover was undone just as quickly as it was done, leaving the Donald with the same old tie-on-bulging-duodenum look from the campaign. He even sounds the same now, kicking off the event with a go-to favorite: “What a crowd!” he shouts. (A week from now, he will shout, “What a crowd, what a turnout!” from atop a truck in Corpus Christi, Texas, on the occasion of a deadly hurricane.) But the embattled president who takes the stage tonight is a different man from the barnstorming revolutionary who ripped through the American political process a year ago. That Donald Trump enjoyed himself, to an obscene degree. Watching Trump lean over a podium on the road to the presidency was like watching a stud boar hump a hole in the wall.
He said monstrous things and lied with stunning disinhibition, and when the civilized world recoiled in horror, he seemed to take sadistic pleasure in every minute – win or lose, the run was pure glory for him, a Sherman’s March of taboo politics and testosterone fury that would leave a mark on America forever.
There was one more thing. Candidate Trump may have been crazy, but it was craziness that on some level was working. Even at his lowest and most irrational…