FORT WAYNE - Of course it is important to remember that we aren’t even half-way through August in this seemingly interminable election cycle.  Normally we’d say that people are on vacation, voters don’t focus until after Labor Day and many not until October, many have little or no knowledge about the candidates, blah blah. However, nothing about this election year is normal.
    
About the only things left to know about the Clintons are: 1.) what groceries they bought the second week of July in, say, 1977; 2.) how unfaithful has Bill Clinton continued to be; and 3.) what did Hillary delete from her e-mails. We know more personal things, true and alleged, about the Clintons than about any two people in American political history.  

As for Donald Trump, he’s like Elvis, bigger than life and heavily mythical. Trump’s conned people his life. In everything. He’s the loud-mouthed guy almost everyone knows, who got financially lucky or was crooked but not caught, and then flaunts his wealth obscenely.  

Everything he owns, wears, says and even marries says: “Hey, look at me. I’m insecure.” Bullying and blaming others are just other manifestations of insecurity.
    
What we don’t do is make such people President of the United States.
    
Unfortunately, the Republican Party is learning that even nominating such a person potentially has implications beyond just losing the Presidency. Trump is like a virus that can permanently weaken the whole party.  
    
This week – the week when the campaigns were to focus on competing economic plans – is yet another example of the continuing (and building) disaster. Even in a week when Trump was to focus on putting Americans “back to work” and make us great again in his eyes, he is so self-centered that he walked on his own weak proposals.
    
It is always about Trump himself, not about America. The press this, the press that. See everybody talks about me, I’m so important.  It’s about how well he is doing in the polls, until he’s not. Then they are rigged. So he switches to how big his rallies are.  (20,000 showed up in this city of 1.2 million people – I’m winning!)  
    
Everything superficial is important; everything important is treated superficially.
    
Watching Trump operate makes it clear how his economic “plan” was cobbled together:

1.) Gather up things I’ve said, be sure to incorporate my “best ideas” (i.e. those I’ve said the most times)

2.) Pull together the “best minds” on this, meaning a diverse group that doesn’t agree but includes plenty of people who “love
me.”

3.) Have some people staple this together into a “plan.”

4.) Specifics don’t matter because once I’m President, I will ignore it anyway.

5.) Actually I’ll probably ignore it the day after the speech, so just make sure it gets me some positive news coverage.

6.) Don’t show it to me until I see it on the teleprompter because I don’t want any “facts” messing up my connection with my crowds at my rallies.

Trump was probably very nice to all who participated, perhaps even giving them a Trump tie. Of course, economics are boring. Plans don’t get enough media attention on social media or entertainment media.  The establishment just doesn’t get this. Trump is about ad-libbing. If he was just another boring guy, he would have lost. So Trump made a joke about gun violence.

This is how disasters become Tsunamis.

Trump’s reactions have been disastrous to all but the most blinded. He doubled down, specifically stating that he won’t stop the off-the-cuff remarks that got him to where he is. Trump obviously continues to resent, as he always has, people who think they can “control him.” That will at some point also include vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, unless Gov. Pence plays lap-dog rather than controller (i.e. what most people would refer to as “friendly advice” is to Trump, trying to tell him what to do). It is not clear that Trump has ever controlled any appetite he’s ever had.

Trump’s first reactions were absurd. When video is everywhere, unedited, of you saying something, blaming the media does not work.  Everyone can see you are lying to cover up your own stupidity. The truth is everywhere.

Trump tried saying that he meant that 2nd Amendment supporters could fix the problem by voting. Then why the smirk, like he said something he considered funny? It isn’t like everyone can’t see it, over and over. If you want people to vote, you say that, as he does regularly. Voting isn’t funny.

Then Trump said it was a joke. About exactly what?  Shooting Hillary? Shooting judges? Shooting Senators who confirm the judges?  Just random street violence? What was the intended joke about?

This isn’t a misplaced joke. A joke that should have been repressed upon reflection. It was a thought that should not have existed.  Even the fleeting thought is instructive. This is why the apologists, including devout Christians, undermine their own witness.

With the tragic deaths caused by violence in the U.S. and around the world, it shows first and foremost that Trump has no common sense, and maybe not even common decency. The media, and people, have “over-reacted” because it said something so basic about him.  No else is joking about it: Most tear up about the tragedies, they don’t make jokes.

Whether this election becomes a tsunami – that is, the Trump collapse spreads down ballot to other races – depends a lot upon how other Republicans handle such huge errors like this one.  

Excusing him will not work. Only massive criticism in such cases, as happened in Wisconsin in the case of Speaker Paul Ryan’s endorsement, stating that Wisconsin was a “Ryan state” not a “Trump state”, gives candidates separation from him.  

Republican candidates can survive without publicly saying they won’t vote for him, but it is becoming increasingly clear that excusing him may indeed create a tsunami. He may rise in polls, but personally I don’t think he’s found his bottom number yet.

Souder is a former Republican congressman from Indiana.