This week, after months and months of campaigning, all of America got to hear a private side of Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, and was it deeply and truly ugly. But make no mistake, for all the righteous outrage and furious condemnation that's going on right now, it's all coming a little late. Because throughout all the months of scandals and controversies, whether it's been high-profile allegations of racism, or sexism, or bullying, or simple inflammatory bluster, there have been countless other reasons Donald Trump should've dropped out of the race ― even though he's already made it very clear that he's not going anywhere.
It shouldn't be so easy now for elected Republicans who've for months backed Trump's candidacy ― albeit some of them with visible reluctance ― to reclaim any semblance of moral high-ground. Because while the mass revulsion over the latest Trump revelations is undeniably justified, it comes at the tail-end of literally more than a year of utterly disqualifying statements, attacks, and flagrant displays of unfitness for command.
Here are 11 such examples, glaring instances where, in a fundamentally decent political party, a majority of members would've been forced to pull the plug on their support, and calls for him to withdraw would've ramped up immediately.
1. Saying Mexico Is Sending Criminals And Rapists
When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.
During his presidential announcement speech, Trump struck the tone of both a radical and a conspiracy theorist on immigration, claiming that the country of Mexico was sending criminals and rapists across the border, and following it up with a perfunctory "and some, I assume, are good people." This was a crucial moment, in that it established and foreshadowed the caustic, xenophobic foundation of Trump's campaign, and sent out a clarion call to the most unsavory elements of his base. For any normal politician, it might well have been a dead-on-arrival moment.
2. Attacking John McCain Over His War Service
He's a war hero. He's a war hero ... He's a war hero cause he was captured. I like people who weren't captured, ok, I hate to tell you.
Arizona senator John McCain is widely regarded as having one of the most valorous military backgrounds in modern Republican Party history, having survived years of torture in a Vietnamese prison camp. Trump, however, didn't think much of the Arizona senator's service ― he derided McCain for being captured by the enemy. If a Democrat had done this, you'd never hear a Republican so much as say their name without mentioning it. But in the wild thicket of the GOP primary, it didn't move the needle.
3. Saying He Saw Thousands Of New Jersey Muslims Cheering On 9/11
I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down, and I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.
Trump's claim notwithstanding, thousands of New Jersey Muslims were not cheering the collapse of the World Trade Center ― at least, there's never been any reporting to suggest as such. While reporting at the time by the AP and Washington Post did reference scant, unsourced rumors of some ― to be clear, not thousands ― of people celebrating, Trump's claims of thousands, and having seen it all on TV, were both proven false.
4. Mocking Former Post Reporter Serge Kovaleski's Disability
Written by a nice reporter, now the poor guy, you got to see this guy, "ahh, I don't know what I said, ahh, I don't remember!"
In the midst of defending the above false claim about Muslims celebrating on 9/11, Trump started attacking the author of the aforementioned Washington Post report, current New York Times report Serge Kovaleski. And, as the video above shows, he seemed to adopt a mocking physical impression of Kovaleski's disability, which impairs the use of his right arm. This was one of the Democratic Party's main lines of attack during its nominating convention, and again, would surely have sunk any traditional politician.
5. Failing To Disavow David Duke And White Supremacists
Well just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, ok? I don't know anything you're talking about with white supremacy, or white supremacists. So, I don't know, I mean, did he endorse me, or what's going on. I know nothing about David Duke, I know nothing about white supremacists.
When asked by CNN's Jake Tapper whether he would unequivocally reject the support of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and the white supremacists who've gravitated to his campaign, Trump wasn't willing to go there. He ultimately did disavow Duke repeatedly, although he also suggested that whether he'd theoretically support the notorious racist's senate campaign would depend on his Democratic opposition.
6. Calling For A Ban On Muslims Entering The U.S.
Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States, until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on. We have no choice. We have no choice. We have no choice.
In the aftermath of the grisly mass shooting in San Bernardino, California in December of 2015, Trump rolled out one of his most controversial and strident proposals yet (although it's supported by a glaringly high number of Americans). Namely, to forbid any Muslims, even American citizens, from entering the United States. The proposal has since been shifted and reshaped, with the current proposal being a ban on travel from countries "compromised" by terror, but never forget what his initial plan was.
7. Threatening To Attack Iranian Warships Over Their "Gestures"
And by the way, with Iran. When they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats, and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn't be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water.
If you're looking for a president with a cool trigger-finger, mull this one over: just last month, Trump suggested he'd order U.S. warships to open fire if Iranian sailors made obscene gestures at them. When challenged on this during the first presidential debate, as Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton noted he was effectively pledging to start a war, Trump merely replied "that would not start a war." Feeling reassured now?
8. Promoting Physical Violence At His Rallies
Like to punch 'em in the face, I tell ya.
Trump has a long history of openly promoting violence against protesters at his rallies, as the above compilation lays terribly bare. He's also cryptically referenced his opponent's potential assassination, and on two different occasions, no less. This is a brand of threatening rhetoric rarely seen in American political system, and it's hard to imagine anyone getting away with it ― but Trump largely did.
9. Defending Former Fox News Chief Roger Ailes
... He's been a friend of mine for a long time, and I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he's helped them, and even recently, and when they write books that are fairly recently released, and they say wonderful things about him, and now all of a sudden they're saying these horrible things about him, it's very sad. Cause he's a very good person, I've always found him to be just a very, very good person, and by the way, a very, very talented person.
Considering the nature of the scandal currently consuming (and quite possibly destroying) Trump's campaign, this one looks even worse in retrospect ― in addition to reportedly seeking the political aid of former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who resigned from his post following multiple allegations of sexual harassment and predatory behavior, Trump publicly defended the former media kingpin.
10. Attacking The Khan Family
I saw him, he was very emotional, probably looked like a nice guy to me. His wife, if you look at his wife, she was standing there, she had nothing to say, she probably maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say, you tell me, but plenty of people have written that. She was extremely quiet, and looked like she had nothing to say, a lot of people have said that.
This was perhaps the single war of words that hurt Trump the most, at least judging by his subsequent, dizzying descent in the polls. After Khizr Khan ― the father of Capt. Humayun Khan, a war hero slain in Iraq more than a decade ago ― criticized Trump during the Democratic National Convention, Trump lashed out, insinuating that Khan's wife Ghazala had been forbidden from speaking (in reality, she declined to speak because she's still so devastated by her son's death). The attack played on reductive stereotypes about the role of women within Islam, and in a just and usual political world, it would've been the end of Trump.
11. Attacking Judge Gonzalo Curiel
... I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He's a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel.
Trump also attacked Judge Gonzalo Curiel, insisting that the Indiana-born American of Mexican heritage (who he called Mexican) couldn't fairly preside over a lawsuit involving Trump University. This was one of the events that actually sent some shockwaves through the Republican establishment, with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan calling it "the textbook definition of a racist comment." And yet, that racist comment didn't spur Ryan to withdraw his endorsement ― in fact, as of this writing, Ryan remains publicly pledged to vote for Trump in November.