A few years ago, Donald Trump co-wrote a book called The Midas Touch—named for the legendary King Midas who could turn anything he touched into gold. Mr. Trump also has the power that transform whatever he touches, but precious metal is not his forte. Instead of gold, everything Trump touches turns to shit.
Remember Rudi Giuliani, the popular crime-fighting federal prosecutor and New York mayor who earned worldwide admiration for his leadership after 9/11? That guy had a legacy to be proud of until Trump touched him. Now he’s an apologist for sexual assault who spews insane conspiracy theories about voter fraud and Hillary Clinton’s health.
What about Chris Christie, the funny, trash-talking, Springsteen-loving, Obama-hugging, can-do New Jersey governor with an 80 percent approval rating? Since volunteering to become Trump’s doormat, his approval rating plummeted to 21 percent, and his political future stopped taking his calls.
Trump’s latest victim is FBI director James Comey. He used to command bipartisan respect for integrity and competence. Now he’s the recipient of bipartisan scorn for violating agency protocol, politicizing the FBI, and interfering with the election. One agent described the FBI as “Trumpland.”
The list goes on. Governor Mike Pence of Indiana signed on to be Trump’s running mate and turned into “Baghdad Bob”—the hapless spokesman who cheerfully pretends that his boss is not a raving, narcissistic despot.
Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway used to be a respected pollster. Now she chases Donald around with a pooper scooper to clean up his trail of doo-doo. But at least she’s doing better than her predecessor, Paul Manafort, whose ties to Russia are reportedly being investigated by the FBI.
Smiling Paul Ryan used to be the GOP’s great white hope for fixing Congress and making peace with the rebellious Freedom Caucus. Then he touched Trump—very daintily with one toe so that he wouldn’t get covered with crap. That was enough to smear his reputation for integrity and impartiality. Congress is now more paralytic than ever, and GOP rebels talk of overthrowing him.
The rebels are shit-stained too. Senator Ted Cruz, self-appointed leader of the insurgency, once called Trump an “utterly amoral…pathological liar” after the nominee ridiculed his wife and slandered his father. He was last seen manning a Trump phone bank with a sad grimace on his face.
It’s not just individuals. Trump has turned whole classes of people into pillars of shit. In the old days, evangelical leaders could be relied upon to back politicians who espoused Christian values. Their enthusiasm for Trump—an amoral, religiously ignorant man who proudly embodies at least five of the seven deadly sins (lust, greed, pride, envy, and rage)—has splintered the evangelical voting bloc and made a mockery of their professed piety.
Among the hardest hit has been the news media, which was not in great shape to begin with. Trump’s touch exposed American journalism’s ugliest flaws: the ratings obsession and dumbed-down election coverage that allowed Trump’s Twitter rants to overshadow serious issues; the false equivalence and pretense of objectivity that conflated his bald-faced lies and gross misconceptions with political positions; the use of political hacks like Corey Lewandowski and Donna Brazile as analysts; and the fundamental failure to effectively inform and educate the public.
We could go on with the list of those befouled by Trump’s noxious touch—Reince Priebus, Billy Bush, Roger Ailes, John McCain, Marco Rubio, General Michael Flynn, Jimmy Fallen, Wikileaks, Twitter, and the whole Republican Party—but Trump is not just despoiling people and organizations. He’s also turning our democratic institutions into shit. By flouting bipartisan tradition, intimidating voters, inciting racism, threatening his opponents, defaming judges, denouncing military leaders, inviting interference from foreign powers, and questioning the election’s legitimacy, Donald Trump has polluted American democracy itself, and we may never get the stain out.
So now we find ourselves at the end of the most nauseating presidential campaign in American history thanks to Donald Trump’s magic touch. We have one more opportunity to dump him into the outhouse of history where his candidacy will be remembered as a shameful blot on our national legacy. Or we can send him to the White House where his dirty little fingers will pry into the foundations of our once-proud Republic and turn the United States of America into shit.