IT’S said the biggest achievement of Donald Trump has been to debase US politics to the point where the lying and madness have become so blatant and so common that nothing has the ability to shock any more.

This week his team put out a message on social media promoting the idea of ‘one reich’. The open use of Nazi terminology trended on Twitter for a day and raised a few eyebrows among the more progressive elements of the US media (ie those that think Israel should drop 2,000lb bombs instead of 3,000lb bombs on Gaza apartment blocks to minimise civilian casualties). But as quickly as it appeared the story disappeared and a tale which once upon a time would have sealed the fate of any presidential hopeful proved to be another one-day wonder.

Squinter’s old enough to remember when vice-presidential candidate Dan Quayle saw his hopes of becoming Bill Clinton’s running mate sliced into chips when he told a child in a classroom that ‘potato’ was spelt ‘potatoe’. Now we’ve got Trump as the bookies favourite to win the election in November – a guy who’s been found culpable of rape and sexual abuse and is currently on trial for covering up the payment of hush money to a porn star. And we all thought he was joking when he said in 2016 he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and his supporters would still back him.

Rishi Sunak hasn’t reached Trumpian levels of Teflonicity, and it’s unlikely he ever will given that he’s going to be spending more time with his family and his wife’s fortune after July 4, but to his credit he has maintained the his party’s reputation for buck stupidity – a reputation polished by Boris Johnson and buffed to a blinding glare by Liz Truss.

How else do we explain his decision to leave the dry, warm Downing Street media room and plump for an outside lectern to announce that he was calling an election for the marching season? The BBC weather forecast was ‘Chucking it down this afternoon in London,’ yet out he went to give his £2,000 Savile Row suit a soaking while the microphones struggled to pick up what he was saying over the sound of the Labour Party anthem – ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ – blasting out from a PA system 100 metres away.

–   You’re gonna get soaked, Prime Minister.
–   You think so?
–   It’s spitting already and the cloud above us is as black as your prospects.
–   If it rains and I crack on I’ll look determined.
–   What about a brolly?
–   What, and get called a wimp? No chance.
–   By the way, that bloke with the top hat and the EC flag is on his way with a big loudspeaker.
–   I’ll just talk louder…

It has to be the worst press conference since Alasdair McDonnell greeted the media on his unveiling as the new SDLP leader in 2011 with “Could somebody turn off those lights please? Jesus, I’m blinded. I can’t see.” The deeper metaphorical truth of those words was to be illustrated quicker than anyone could have imagined – Rishi will be shown to have been as wet as we all feared even quicker.

The PM was still drying his hair with a Dior towel when he learned where he was going to be doing his first electioneering stints the next morning. As hacks fought like cat and dog to claim the credit for coming up with ‘Things Can Only Get Wetter’, his press team announced that he was going to Belfast.

–   Okay, not a great choice, if I’m honest. Conflict, sectarianism, that legacy business, Heaton-Harris.
–   We need to do the regions and I think we can make it work.
–   Fair enough, where are we for? Giant’s Causeway? Those trees that are falling down in North Antrim? 
–   The Titanic.
–   The big boat that sank?
–   That’s the one.
–   So I’m going to stand where the world’s biggest maritime disaster was born and ask people to vote for me, is that right?
–   I’m thinking they might still be too busy laughing at your wet suit to crack jokes about a disaster at sea.

The ghostly figure chatting with Rishi in the aforegoing imaginary conversations is Sunak’s Director of Communications, Nerissa Chesterfield. She made her name working under Dominic Cummings in the Vote Leave campaign, which means that her skillset was such that she was junior to a man who thought the best ruse to get out of a breaking lockdown charge was to say he was going for a drive to test his eyesight. And if you think that says all we need to know about her, it is my awkward duty to point out that after the Vote Leave gig, she became a media special adviser to Liz Truss, whose sure-footedness under Nerissa’s guidance saw Liz go on to claim the distinction of being outlasted at No.10 by a lettuce.

“These people are still in charge of a piece of Ireland,” a friend reflected ruefully as we discussed the upcoming election campaign. “What does that say about us?”