Howard Beale couldn't take it anymore. Today the question is, can Donald Trump? New York Times calls last night's xenophobic rant by the president at a raucous new orleans rally a sign of vulnerability. The thesis goes like this: trump is becoming yesterday. That would be fine if there was a yesterday. But as the song says, yesterday is dead and gone. But if that is so, why is Trump still with us? What if he is acting a part in a play whose script few of us even can imagine?

Is Trump yesterday or now?

Is it true that being yesterday is a defect of the Trump approach?

Should that have been seen from the start? Was it smart to cry make America great again? What does that mean? Does it work when we live in the now? Today now taking a bath or looking at someone the wrong way can create more harm than a petrified Syrian refugee shivering in an airport can. But Mr. Trump seems to think the Syrian girl is a clear and present danger.

Who was Howard Beale?

Like Jack in the Beanstock, Howard Beale was and is a figment of the imagination. As such he is very real, but simply irrelevant to how things are just now. He was the unhinged TV anchor who went ballistic off and on in the movie "Network." Last night the President could have shouted "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" -- Beale's iconic rant in the movie, for which Peter Finch won a posthumous Oscar.

Trump's rant at a New Orleans rally was pure yesterday. It was more like an old movie than a President of the United States addressing today's America.

The campaign is over

The Times account of Trump's rant stressed the difference between now and the campaign in terms of Trump's ability to paint things in simple either-or terms.

But the issue at the moment is clearly either-or. Either we fight for however long Trump remains president or we stop continually considering a ban that is unconstitutional on the face of it. It appears that we have an answer right now. We do not live in a world where we can discriminate against anyone. Case closed.

But Trump does not believe that he, like Howard Beale, will end up defeated. He believes the country will agree with his anti-Islam stance. The question is no longer whether he will win, but whether he would ever admit defeat.