O Tempora O Mores

I saw something beautiful Monday night, a perfectly executed touchdown pass from Aaron Rogers to Jordy Nelson — poetry in motion, mathematics made flesh, a sublime bread and circus moment. But, as Michael Corleone said, “Just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in.”

I switched channels and there was the grotesque cesspool of the second Trump- Hillary cage match that Norman Ornstein aptly characterized as a dinner theater version of “Jerry Springer: The Opera.”

Trump, coming straight from the debacle of the “Access Hollywood” video in which he described his romantic technique –1) be a celebrity, 2) use TicTacs and 3) grab women by the crotch, decided not to express phony contrition. Instead, he came with a posse of women who had accused Bill Clinton decades ago of rape and molestation.

In rhetorical terms, the Romans had a name for this kind of thing — tu quoque. That is, “so are you, buster.” Thus, Trump, having been shown yet again to be is a misogynistic pig, chooses to defend himself by demonstrating that Bill Clinton was a bigger misogynistic pig. How this was supposed to make voters do anything but decide democracy is vastly overrated is not clear.

In Trump’s decision to play to the base (not just his electoral base, but the base) and give up on attracting any new voters, he also got to use newly acquired dirt on Hillary. Notes on remarks she made to Wall Street moguls in exchange for absurdly large speaking fees were acquired by KGB hackers and furnished to rape suspect and fugitive from justice Julian Assange who leaked them.

Could this get any less savory? Well, since there are four more weeks left in the race to the bottom, a safe bet would be — yes. Have your barf bags at the ready.

The dirt on Hillary amounted to the fact that she admitted that she talked one way to her constituents and another to Wall Street donors. Trump was shocked, shocked to discover politics was being practiced and that hypocrisy was abroad in the land.

Since the voters have already concluded that all politicians are pretty much shills for special interests while pretending to be champions for the downtrodden common man, it’s hard to see how this revelation that Hillary is a pol will do her much damage except possibly with the naive Bernie voters she is still courting. It’s only more evidence of Washington business as usual.

In one final atrocity, Trump — our very own cut-rate Catiline — promised that if elected he’d have his attorney general hunt down Hillary and put her behind bars, the kind of perversion of justice for political ends that ought to make the heart of Trump’s pal Putin go pit-a-pat.

The upshot of the grisly 90-minute spectacle was status quo ante. The vast right wing conspiracy has long ago concluded that Hillary is a blood-soaked Lady Macbeth and they still feel that way. And Trump has merely burnished his record as a man willing to do anything to get his way, a greedy, amoral, ignorant, loutish braggart who has enriched himself at the expense of others and who has regularly lost more than he has made through hubris and incompetence. He is better at self-promotion than at business, less a robber baron than a media bottom-dweller, a Kim Kardashian in drag.

Cicero, despairing of Rome’s accelerating rush to degradation, the viciousness and corruption of his age and the threat posed by reckless, feckless demagogues, cried “O tempora O mores.” What terrible times! What repulsive behavior! Ain’t it the truth.

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