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Thursday, August 24, 2017

You probably don’t read newspaper editorials, and I don’t blame you. Over the decades, many have become weak and flaccid little things.

They suffer from too little sound and fury, yet they still manage to signify nothing.

Until now. If you have been skipping newspaper editorials recently, you have been missing something.

Take last week’s editorial in The Washington Post in which the “growing ugliness” of Donald Trump’s campaign was said to pose a challenge for every American.

“We have seen the likes of him before, in the United States and elsewhere: narcissistic bullies who rise to prominence by spreading lies, appealing to fears and stoking hatred,” the paper said. “Such people are dangerous.”

Whoa, Nellie! Where did that come from? Trump is a dangerous and narcissistic bully who spreads lies and stokes hatred?

Sure, it’s the truth. But that doesn’t mean we’re used to seeing it on an editorial page.

Yet history may someday note that Trump has almost single-handedly revived the art of two-fisted newspaper editorial writing. Just because he is such a scoundrel and a worm.

Most newspaper editorials are unsigned, as if they were dropped from heaven directly onto the printing presses. So we don’t know who, on Nov. 23 in The Washington Post, wrote that at first the paper was inclined to ignore Trump.

“He was a buffoon, a disseminator of ludicrous rumors about President Obama’s birthplace,” the newspaper said. “He lacked the qualifications, experience or knowledge to be president. He was running to promote his brand.”

But now the Post had changed its mind: “His candidacy has tugged the debate toward divisiveness as his bigotry has drawn cheers and many of his rivals have strove to mimic him.”

(You knew it was an editorial because it used a phrase such as “have strove,” something no mere mortal would say. As in: “Jim, have you strove to pick up the dry cleaning today?”)

The editorial then accused Trump of reinforcing “fears and prejudices,” as well as “praising supporters for beating a protestor, crudely denigrating anyone who challenges him and penning reporters into designated zones so that they cannot speak with his followers.”

Personally, I have met few reporters who could not use a good penning or two. But more significantly, the editorial ended by attacking those other Republican candidates who refuse to attack Trump. “Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) is probably the most egregious of these second-rate flatterers, but he’s far from alone,” the paper said.

And who could listen to the oleaginous Cruz (see, I know some uncommon words, too) and not agree?

All of which was good strong stuff. But there was more to come. The very next day, The New York Times dropped a bomb on Trump. Here is the first sentence:

“America has just lived through another presidential campaign week dominated by Donald Trump’s racist lies.”

Yikes! Racist lies? Why doesn’t the newspaper tell us how it really feels? And who, by the way, would know Trump better than his hometown newspaper?

“If it’s a lie too vile to utter aloud,” the paper wrote, “count on Mr. Trump to say it, often.”

Did I say it was like a bomb going off? It was like Krakatoa erupting — and burying Trump in lava.

The Times, as did the Post, listed specific examples of Trump’s statements and provided plenty of online links so that readers could judge Trump’s vileness for themselves.

But the Times had made up its mind: Trump is a “demagogue” who gets some of his phony statistics from a “white supremacist group.”

Then the paper reprinted a recent lengthy quotation by Trump, comparing it to quotations by character assassin Joseph McCarthy in 1950 and racist George Wallace in 1963.

McCarthy. Wallace. Trump. Quite a trio of shame.

“His right to spew nonsense is protected by the Constitution,” the Times wrote, “but the public doesn’t need to swallow it.”

Swallow Trump’s spew? Eww.

At least one Republican candidate has awakened and rubbed some of the cobwebs from his eyes when it comes to Trump. Chris Christie said Monday that Trump’s recent imitation of a disabled reporter was wrong.

“You shouldn’t be making fun of people with disabilities. It’s just not worthy of someone running for president of the United States,” Christie said.

Christie also disputed Trump’s claim that thousands of New Jersey Muslims publicly danced in celebrations when the twin towers fell on 9/11.

When Christie’s rebuke was repeated to Trump, Trump glowered.

“He must be careful with what he says,” Trump said in a menacing tone.

Nah, Donald, I don’t think so. I think you finally have reached the point where you had better be careful with what you say.

The mass of voters have seen your act and, I believe, are sick of it, no matter what the polls show. And the sooner you exit the stage the less loathsome our politics will be.

Roger Simon is Politico’s chief political columnist. His new e-book, “Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America,” can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes. To find out more about Roger Simon and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Columbus, Ohio, November 23, 2015. REUTERS/Jay LaPrete