Before Donald Trump revealed himself to his ecstatic believers at the Tampa Convention Centre in Florida on Tuesday, his terrible retinue stormed the stage.
One dreadful surrogate after the other brought portents of The Donald's arrival, each exemplifying an aspect of the candidate in today's Republican primary.
There was cynicism.
"I was the United States attorney in New Jersey; we put all kinds of bad guys in jail," New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said. "We did what needed to be done. And I'm convinced that's exactly the kind of attorney general Donald Trump is going to appoint when he is president of the United States."
I wonder whom the former prosecutor could have in mind. If there was any doubt that Christie endorsed Trump in a calculated move to advance his fading political career, it evaporated in the Tampa sun. Even Trump does not make his ethics so obviously situation-dependent.
There was fear.
"I look around this country, and this world, and it frightens me now, and it should frighten all of us," said Florida Attorney-General Pam Bondi, before telling the crowd that she was endorsing Trump.
"Our country and our world need someone who is going to protect our security like never before," Bondi declared, apparently neglecting to consider that the nation has faced much more dangerous times in the past and weathered them without turning its affairs over to an unreasonable brute like Trump.
And there was inanity.
"All these real-life issues that happen, it really puts things in perspective, doesn't it?" former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said. "And doesn't it make you so appreciate your time? Time is our most valuable resource. It makes me appreciate the time that we have to spend in doing something so worthy, and that is to get Donald Trump elected president.
"What we don't have time for is all that petty, punk-ass little thuggery stuff," Palin continued, condemning protesters who disrupt Trump rallies.
"And the media being on the thugs' side - what the heck are you guys thinking, media?"
It would not be a Trump rally if "the media" weren't serially and lazily attacked.
Cynicism, fear and inanity, all unleashed before Trump, are running rampant in the GOP presidential race. They might torment us for a very long time yet.