Four weeks from the election, and things are going from bad to worse. Donald Trump, miffed at Speaker Paul Ryan's decision not to campaign with him, is calling Ryan names and waging war against the political party that nominated him. In Trump's mind, he is bigger than the Republican Party. He's bigger than anyone, than any organization, than any standards of conduct.
The video tape of Trump's offensive comments about women, which was released last Friday, has been the most tumultuous event of this presidential election season. It topped his insults toward former presidential nominee John McCain, toward women celebrities and toward other Republican candidates.
What is astounding, but shouldn't be, considering the pattern of this campaign, is that Trump's loyal supporters, including women and highly religious voters, have dismissed his offensive remarks as meaningless. They say they are not offended! Nothing signifies the great divide in the electorate than this: his loyal followers are willing to accept any sort of misbehavior, any sort of petulant tantrum, any sort of offensive speech or action in order to elect Trump, a candidate whose campaign has been built not on understanding of the issues or the offering of detailed solutions but on 144-character quips and retorts.
Some of this myopia owes, no doubt, to his supporters' distrust of Hillary Clinton, whose life has been a swirl of controversy for 25 years. Many, perhaps even a majority, of the people who will vote for Clinton have some degree of discomfort with her honesty, openness, forthrightness and character. But they will swallow their doubts in order to avoid a Trump presidency.
On the state level, Hurricane Matthew may be the best thing that has happened to Gov. Pat McCrory this campaign cycle. The hurricane gave the governor a chance to display leadership and appear frequently in news broadcasts. He took center stage at hurricane updates, and he urged North Carolinians to obey evacuation orders and avoid hazardous situations. Less senior state officials could have handled the briefings, but McCrory, in his uniform-like Public Safety shirt, took the podium. He's not the first governor to take advantage of a news opportunity (Jim Hunt perfected the procedure), but McCrory, trailing in the polls, needed the spotlight.