At times like this harakiri comes to mind, or seppuku as it’s properly known.
It fascinated me as a kid. So did the Japanese Kamikazes of World War II.
Even as we cheered against Imperial Japan’s pilots and soldiers in “Tora! Tora! Tora!” and “The Sands of Iwo Jima” on late-night TV, my friends and I couldn’t help admiring their courage in the final days of the war.
There was consensus that harakiri was the worse of the two. Being a Kamikaze involved committing suicide with an airplane — that’s bad enough. Seppuku involved disemboweling oneself with a short, steel blade. You did it in front of an audience, as slowly as possible, while remaining completely quiet if you could stand it. Harakiri was a way of restoring one’s honor in disgrace or defeat in accordance with samurai bushido code. It was a way of acknowledging shame.
No one does it anymore.
If there were ever a modern-day situation warranting harakiri, it would be Donald Trump’s now.
As a Catholic, I can’t actually suggest that Trump plunge a dagger into his navel, definitely not before a national audience, but some sort of honorable display by him to address the shamefulness of last weekend’s audio revelations is in order nonetheless.
Stepping aside as the Republican candidate for president, for instance, or a just a sincere national apology for a solid year of meanness, would be child’s play when compared with spilled intestines.
Such a gesture would take honor, though, and Trump has none evidently.
He wants to rage instead. He’d rather drive the Republican Party, and much of the American conservative movement, into the ground in the final weeks of the presidential contest using a scorched-earth strategy that cannot succeed.
Hint to the Trump campaign: When you’re burning wheat fields in retreat, it’s over.
Trump is now attacking Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan who will no longer defend the indefensible. It could cost the GOP both the Senate and the House, not to mention hundreds of undercard races at the state and local level. Trump doesn’t care. He’s intent on driving his airplane into the ground, but not as some lonely Kamikaze. Trump has his plane loaded up with half of America’s political candidates.
Bragging about his use of power to physically molest women, in his own voice on audiotape, was the end of Trump’s presidential campaign. He has to know that.
He should step aside now, or go down with dignity a month hence. He’ll do neither. Trump has no shame. He is no samurai.
William F. B. O’Reilly is a consultant for Republicans.