During a Tuesday rally in Wilmington, NC, the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, either called for the assassination of Hillary Clinton or the assassination of the judges she'll appoint if elected. Or both. It's unclear who, in particular, he meant, but based on the tone of what he said, he very likely meant Hillary herself.
Trump said, "And by the way, if she gets to pick-- [booing] --if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. [audience members shouting] Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know."
It's difficult to fully describe in historical context what Trump has been up to for the better part of a year now, and it's even more difficult to rank which things he's said are the worst and the most unprecedented statements for a presidential nominee. But along with wondering why we can't use our nuclear weapons, and along with encouraging Putin's Russia to conduct cyber-espionage against Hillary Clinton, this is perhaps the most sinister thing any presidential candidate has said in at least a century.
Whether he meant Hillary or the judges -- whether he was joking or not, it really shouldn't matter. He said with a straight face and in a serious tone of voice that pro-gun radicals should consider assassinating public officials in order to stop them from allegedly pursuing a liberal agenda. Not only should this disqualify him from becoming president, it should immediately trigger a Secret Service investigation.
So much for the reboot.
For several days now, I've wondered whether Trump could seriously moderate his tone and style in order to mitigate his rapidly disintegrating campaign. I worried that cable news, under pressure from Trump supporters wielding the repeatedly debunked "liberal media bias" myth, would adjust to a "Trump surge" narrative to retain their televised drama. They can't possibly do that now. Though, reports are emerging on Twitter that CNN, in particular, treated Trump's assassination threat as if it was a policy matter.
Regardless, I can't possibly see Trump recovering from this. If the political press and Republican voters allow him to bounce back in the polls after he suggested "Second Amendment people" assassinate one or more public figures, including his opponent, then America deserves to be crushed under the awful weight of a Trump presidency. We really do. If we can't stand up -- unified -- against this bad actor in the way we were unified against other despots throughout modern history, then we deserve what we get.