By David Frum
The relentless messaging by Trump and his supporters has inflicted a measurable wound on American democracy.
“I became worse.” That’s how double impeachment changed him, Donald Trump told a conservative audience in Dallas last weekend, without a trace of a smile. This was not Trump the insult comic talking. This was the deepest Trump self. And this one time, he told the truth.
Something has changed for Trump and his movement since January 2021. You can measure the difference by looking back at the deadly events in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. Trump made three statements about those events over four days. He was visibly reluctant to speak negatively of the far-right groups. He praised “fine people on both sides” and spread the blame for “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.”
Trump’s evasions triggered a national uproar. As Joe Biden complained in an essay for The Atlantic at the time: