I have a close friend who was recently dating a nasty fellow. He manipulated her emotionally; he drove a wedge between her and her family; he badmouthed her beliefs, tearing her down to build himself up. But she continued to date him, because apparently she loved him. She didn’t love the real him, of course — that guy was a jerk. She loved the fantasy she’d created for herself.

It’s bizarre to realize that for large swaths of the Republican party, Donald Trump has become that abusive boyfriend.

We’ve now watched Trump operate for well over a year. He hasn’t changed one iota during that time. He’s always been a man who says terrible things in defense of terrible ideas, who lets his ego run roughshod over whatever shred of self-control he maintains, who cares far more about insults to his ego than about the country he seeks to lead.

But that’s not the Trump that Trump defenders see. They see someone different entirely. They see a blow-up doll they could fall in love with, so long as they’re able to convince themselves he feels real.

Never was that more apparent than during last night’s vice-presidential debate, when Indiana governor Mike Pence set about describing Fantasy Trump, a character he could support sans compunction, and sans reckoning with the manifest ugliness of Reality Trump.

Read the rest at National Review.