“Truth will come to light,” Launcelot Gobbo tells his father in The Merchant of Venice. “At the length truth will out.”
For Donald Trump, this past week is when, for all except his most beguiled and gullible supporters, the truth willed itself out. At the start of the week, the ground on which the president’s most fanatical followers stood started to crumble; by the end of the week, it had completely collapsed.
During a campaign in which even many significant events haven’t moved the needle, this five-day stretch did.
The president’s week from hell began with the September 27 blockbuster story in The New York Times, which reported that Trump’s long-concealed tax records show chronic losses, struggling properties, years of tax avoidance, and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due.
The entire narrative Trump had constructed about himself—a self-made billionaire, a world-class businessman, a master dealmaker—was pure fiction.
“It was all a hoax,” in the words of the Times’ Mike McIntire, Russ Buettner, and Susanne Craig. And they have the documents to prove it.
Then came last Tuesday’s catastrophic debate, in which Trump confirmed, in more than an hour and a half, nearly every concern the public has had about the president’s character and psychological state. He was abusive, belligerent, uncontrolled, unstable, vindictive, and indecent. It’s one thing to be told about the president’s tweets or to hear snippets from his campaign rallies or press conferences; it is quite another for more than 70 million Americans to watch an unhinged president for a sustained period of time.
The debate had “the explosive force of a howitzer,” in the words of David Brooks, a contributing writer for The Atlantic.