Set aside all the odious things Donald Trump has said about women. Set aside his late night tweets and refusal to leave any personal slight unanswered. Set aside his inability to make any public pronouncement without resorting to wild exaggerations, distortions of fact and complete fabrications. Set asides his bankruptcies, his Trump University con job, his Trump Foundation charity scams and his apparent avoidance of paying income taxes. Set aside Mr. Trump's extreme narcissism that has allowed him, without apparent embarrassment, to equate his battles to evade venereal disease with the heroics of real men in real combat.
Put aside all those demerits from his business life and all his repulsive personal attitudes and actions and, also, forget anything negative any partisan Democrat has said about the Republican candidate for president. Just consider what respected Republicans and conservatives say about Mr. Trump.
In a National Review column criticizing the overly florid language Democrats have used to attack Republicans from Mitt Romney to Marco Rubio, Charles C.W. Cooke confessed: "I was mortified last night to watch Hillary Clinton's anti-Trump advertisement and to acknowledge that almost every claim in it was true. Once again, I thought, 'This is the man the Right nominated?' "
Venerable conservative columnist George Will, who officially quit the GOP because of Mr. Trump, recently wrote that party leaders "can simplify the GOP's quadrennial exercise of writing its post-campaign autopsy, which this year can be published Nov. 9 in one sentence: 'Perhaps it is imprudent to nominate a venomous charlatan.' "
Writing in the New York Times, Ross Douthat has warned his fellow Republicans that Mr. Trump's ignorance, inexperience and intemperate personality would lead to a jittery, slumping economy, "major civil unrest" and "a rapid escalation of risk in every geopolitical theater." Douthat writes, "I think that reluctant Trump supporters are overestimating the systemic durability of the U.S.-led order and underestimating the extent to which a basic level of presidential competence and self-control is itself a matter of life and death -- for Americans and for human beings the world over."
Mr. Douthat's warning echoes that of dozens of Republican foreign policy experts who have banded together to say Mr. Trump would be a danger and a disaster if he becomes commander-in-chief. Mincing no words, former Secretary of State Colin Powell has called Mr. Trump a "national disgrace and an international pariah."
The last Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney, made a formal speech about the madness of nominating Mr. Trump. Among other things, Mr. Romney characterized Mr. Trump as a phony, a fraud and a bully who is dishonest, reckless, vulgar and immoral. He said Mr. Trump's admiration for Russia's President Vladimir Putin "is a twisted example of evil trumping good."
"His domestic policies would lead to recession," Mr. Romney said of Mr. Trump. "His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president. And his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill."
This is just a small sample of the sharply negative assessments of Mr. Trump from conservative thinkers and traditional Republicans. None are fans of Hillary Clinton, but they do know that her flaws, however deep, are the failings of a conventional politician. Mr. Trump's flaws are exceptional and are exceptionally dangerous for the country. That has led quite a few sane Republicans to do the exceptional: Pray for the defeat of their party's presidential nominee.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Horsey is a political commentator for the Los Angeles Times. Go to latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/ to see more of his work.