Charles M. Blow is The New York Times‘s visual Op-Ed columnist. His column appears on Saturday.
Mr. Blow joined The New York Times in 1994 as a graphics editor and quickly became the paper’s graphics director, a position he held for nine years. In that role, he led The Times to a best of show award from the Society of News Design for the Times‘s information graphics coverage of 9/11, the first time the award had been given for graphics coverage. He also led the paper to its first two best in show awards from the Malofiej International Infographics Summit for work that included coverage of the Iraq war. Mr. Blow went on to become the paper’s Design Director for News before leaving in 2006 to become the Art Director of National Geographic Magazine.
Every now and then we are going to have to do this: Step back from the daily onslaughts of insanity emanating from Donald Trump’s parasitic presidency and remind ourselves of the obscenity of it all, registering its magnitude in its full, devastating truth.
There is something insidious and corrosive about trying to evaluate the severity of every offense, trying to give each an individual grade on the scale of absurdity. Trump himself is the offense. Everything that springs from him, every person who supports him, every staffer who shields him, every legislator who defends him, is an offense. Every partisan who uses him - against all he or she has ever claimed to champion - to advance a political agenda and, in so doing, places party over country, is an offense.
We must remind ourselves that Trump’s very presence in the White House defiles it and the institution of the presidency. Rather than rising to the honor of the office, Trump has lowered the office with his whiny, fragile, vindictive pettiness.
The presidency has been hijacked.
Last week, when Donald Trump attacked two MSNBC hosts, people were aghast. The condemnation came quickly and from all quarters.
But his words shouldn’t have shocked. His tweet was just another pebble on a mountain of vulgarities. This act of coarseness was in fact an act of continuity. Trump was being Trump: the grossest of the gross, a profanity against propriety.
This latest episode is simply part of a body of work demonstrating the man’s utter contempt for decency. We all know what it will add up to: nothing.
Republicans have bound themselves up with Trump. His fate is their fate. They have surrendered any moral authority to which they once laid claim - rightly or not. If Trump goes down, they all do.
It’s all quite odd, this moral impotence, this cowering before the belligerent, would-be king. A madman and his legislative minions are holding America hostage.
There are no new words to express it; there is no new and novel way to catalog it. It is what it is and has been from day one: The most extraordinary and profound electoral mistake America has made in our lifetimes and possibly ever.
We must say without ceasing, and without growing weary by the redundancy, that what we are witnessing is not normal and cannot go unchallenged. We must reaffirm our commitment to resistance. We must always remember that although individual Americans made the choice to vote affirmatively for him or actively withhold their support from his opponent, those decisions were influenced, in ways we cannot calculate, by Russian interference in our election, designed to privilege Trump.
We must remember that we now have a president exerting power to which he may only have access because a foreign power hostile to our interests wanted him installed. We must remember that he has not only praised that foreign power, he has proven mysteriously averse to condemning it or even acknowledging its meddling.
We must remember that there are multiple investigations ongoing about the degree of that interference in our election - including a criminal investigation - and that those investigations are not constrained to collusion and are far from fake news. These investigations are deadly serious, are about protecting the integrity of our elections and the sovereignty of our country and are about a genuine quest for truth and desire for justice.
Every action by this administration is an effort to push forward the appearance of normality, to squelch scrutiny, to diminish the authority and credibility of the ongoing investigations.
Last week, after a growing list of states publicly refused to hand over sensitive voter information to Trump’s ironic and quixotic election integrity commission, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders blasted the pushback as a “political stunt.”
But in fact the commission itself is the political stunt. The committee is searching for an illegal voting problem that doesn’t exist. Trump simply lied when he said that he would have won the popular vote were it not for millions of illegal votes. And then he established this bogus commission - using taxpayer money - to search for a truth that doesn’t exist, to try to prove right a lie that he should never have told.
This commission is classic Trump projection: There is a real problem with the integrity of our last election because the Russians helped power his win, but rather than deal with that very real attack on this country, he is instead tilting at windmills concerning in-person voter fraud.
Last week, CNN reported:
“The Trump administration has taken no public steps to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 election. Multiple senior administration officials said there are few signs the president is devoting his time or attention to the ongoing election-related cyber threat from Russia.”
Donald Trump is depending on people’s fatigue. He is banking on your becoming overwhelmed by his never-ending antics. He is counting on his capacity to wear down the resistance by sheer force.
We must be adamant that that will never come to pass. Trump is an abomination, and a cancer on the country, and none of us can rest until he is no longer holding the reins of power.
<CHARLES M. BLOW