A few years ago, for a two-or-three month period around the time that she appeared at the VMA’s with Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus absolutely dominated headlines. Every day, it seemed, she’d outdo the thing she’d done before, making out with this person, showing up completely naked on Instagram, etc. I remember because, before I settled into only TV coverage on Uproxx, I’d wake up at 5 a.m., and the first thing I’d search for was what Miley had done the night before, because it’d be easy page views. Justin Bieber went through a similar phase, Lindsay Lohan did, as well, and so did Britney Spears a decade ago.
At some point with all of them, however, they hit a tipping point: They went so far that they were no longer capable of surprising us, and when the crazy became routine, the Internet stopped caring. They could no longer outdo themselves, and we reached Miley or Bieber or Lohan fatigue.
I keep wondering if that will happen with Donald Trump, but with less than 100 days to the election, every time we seem to arrive at a fatigue point, he reaches down deep and finds some reservoir of crazy to unleash.
However, he may have reached that tipping point two days ago when he incited his followers to assassinate his opponent, at which point he seemed to cost himself whatever slim chance at the Presidency he still had. His numbers continue to fall. States like Georgia, that once were not in play, are now swing states, and Republicans continue to peel off in greater and greater numbers.
Yesterday, however, he managed to nearly match the “Second Amendment” comment by stating unequivocally — three times — that President Obama had founded ISIS.
“President Obama — he is the founder of ISIS. He is the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder. He founded ISIS.”
However, the reaction from both Twitter and the greater media was, I’d say, perfunctory. They covered it, but as though out of obligation, although they did draw some criticism.
Hi. Hi there, reporter person. Trump calling Obama the "founder of ISIS" is not a controversial statement. It is a lie. L-I-E. Report that.— Kaili Joy Gray (@KailiJoy) August 11, 2016
Stories on Trump accusing Obama of founding ISIS could really use a "Barack Obama did not found ISIS" sentence. Almost none of them have it.— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) August 11, 2016
Overall, however, the reaction to the leader of a major political party suggesting that a sitting President had founded a terrorist organization responsible for 33,000 terrorist deaths around the globe was somewhat muted. The outrage of the day before wasn’t there. Republicans weren’t denouncing the statement. There weren’t as many calls for Trump to drop out of the race. In fact, the statement — which again suggested that the President of the United States was directly responsible for 33,000 terrorist deaths — was overshadowed in the news cycle by a twit climbing Trump Tower with suction cups.
In other words, this brand of crazy is the new normal for Donald Trump. We may have reached the point where we simply accept this level of insanity as the cost of doing business with Trump.
Here’s a potential problem, however. When Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber stopped making headlines for a few months, they regained a measure of adoration from the American public. It was as though they’d had their obligatory media meltdown, survived it, and came out on the other side stronger people. Justin Bieber — who urinated in a janitor’s bucket, allegedly slept with prostitutes, and was charged with a DUI and for resisting arrest two years ago — has released a late contender for song of the summer. He’s back in pop culture’s good graces merely by virtue of being a normal pop star.
My fear, I guess, is what happens if Trump arrives at the debates next month and performs adequately? What if he manages not to say anything dumb? Or insane? Will America embrace a Donald that is normal relative to the unhinged version of today? Has Trump’s crazy peaked too soon? The collective memory of the American public is short. Will he be able to regain voters merely by virtue of being a normal politician again?
It’s a terrifying thought, but so far, Donald Trump has given us no reason to believe that he’s capable of normalcy. Let’s hope the fatigue completely settles in.