Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Trump critic in "pig heaven"
Pity the poor satirist.
You select a subject worthy of your scorn, of everyone's scorn. You train your well-honed powers of ridicule upon your victim.
You open up with both barrels, hot cartridges of contempt flip hissing over your shoulder as you rake your victim.
Everyone has a good laugh.
The smoke clears.
He's still there. Untouched.
A pang of confusion and disappointment. What? You mean you guys elected Bruce Rauner anyway? Haven't you been listening to a word I said?
Or lately, Donald Trump.
A hundred Talmud's worth of criticism has been flung at Trump, continuously, for the past 30 years, meticulously explaining his crassness, his P.T. Barnum-like hucksterism, his falsity. All for naught. The man strides toward the presidency, unhindered, and while we media elite assume he just has to blow up at some point, it ain't happened yet. It may never happen.
This summer, as Trump swelled from balloon to blimp to zeppelin, I kept thinking about Spy Magazine, the sharp New York satirical monthly of the late 1980s, which I was honored to write for. Trump was first among Spy's A-list of New York socialites and business people whose venality made writing satire more an act of stenography than journalism.
What would Spy's editors have thought, I wondered, had they known what was coming for Trump?
Heck, what do they think now? I put in a call to Kurt Andersen, one of Spy's founders.
"It's the best," Andersen said. "I am in pig heaven."
"In the late '80s and early '90s, I was a student of Trump," he continued. "We brought his egregiousness to the world's attention. Then, frankly, I lost interest in him. Once the world became more Trumplike and gave him his own reality show, he ceased to be interesting to me. I never watched 'The Apprentice.' I didn't care."
So in a sense, by running for president, Trump was born anew.
"Now that he has upped the ante, and brought this craaaazy, postmodern character that he's always been into this new realm of presidential politics, well, I'm excited," said Andersen. "Amazingly, he was flirting with running for president back in the '80s. He was talking about it. Back then, our attitude was, 'Please, please, please.' Nothing would be better than Donald Trump running for president."
And here I thought I was cynical. But this is a new level. My Midwestern yokel's stab at sophistication wilted after a single draft of the 151 proof East Coast version. Next to Andersen, I felt like Dorothy Gale.
"But what if he wins?" I whispered.
"I don't want him to be president," Andersen said. "He is awful and interesting. When he became a birther, it was the first time, really, that I felt, 'Nah, this is no longer amusing. This is hideous. I can't laugh.' The fact that he's running for president, and a quarter of the Republicans are supporting him. It's too astounding for me to resist, as an observer."
Andersen said it wasn't so much that Trump spouts the "ugly, xenophobic, racist, sexist" beliefs that are the secret shame of Republicanism, but he represents the opposite of the polished politician, who "people have come to hate."
Not Trump, said Andersen. "He speaks like the guy who has three drinks at the end of the bar. He just talks."
Andersen believes the risk of Trump becoming president has gone "from absolutely zero to just above zero." I repeated my own mantra: If America elects Donald Trump, then we deserve him.
"Ross Douthat had a very interesting line," Andersen said of the conservative pundit. "Essentially, he said Trump may be the guy that a decadent American imperium deserves."
Indeed. Donald Trump is America's punishment for being America. Andersen, who became a best-selling novelist after selling Spy, views the Donald in narrative terms.
"You can't make this up," he said. "It's beyond fiction. At the moment we're all supposed to be worried about inequality — about a rigged system and the the middle class not getting a fair shake — this rich guy is your avatar. It's incredible. If you wrote this in a novel, people would say, 'It's funny, but come on!'"
At a time when reality beggars satire, Andersen, has shifted to writing nonfiction. His next book is titled "Fantasyland."
What is it about?
"America," he said.
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Don't worry, if Trump becomes president his agenda is doomed to failure, and may well deal a fatal blow to the Republican Party. In order to achieve his nefarious scheme for illegals, and their anchor babies, he would require an army. This would be an army of people willen to enforce their beliefs on others with extreme prejudice, and wear nice brown shirts with Sam Brown belts. He could never find enough people to accomplish his goals. Not in our America.ReplyDelete
Neil, America isn't so bad, is it?ReplyDelete
And see what your pal writer said about his chances "just above zero." That doesn't sound like much.
I'm not sure what you mean. Bad enough that one of the two major parties we're stuck with would spend months rolling like a puppy at the feet of some plutocrat asshat whose farcical programs would make all of our problems far worse. That's nothing to be proud of.Delete
That a candidate created by a 15-year-old boy and named Deez Nuts could outpoll many of the "legitimate" candidates does not give one complete faith in the electorate.Delete
Unless you count it to the electorate's credit that they hold such a low opinion of the available options. It at least demonstrates that they've been paying attention.Delete
Hmm. Not sure if that should cheer me up or not.Delete
Anonymous, the comment by Neil's pal was made one year ago, when everybody felt Trump had no chance.Delete
I don't know. A lot of satirists and journalists were having a field day with Hitler and all it got them was an all expenses paid trip to Dachau.ReplyDelete
Hitler was certainly a clown, until he wasn't, but I try not to trot him out at every opportunity, since so many people do.Delete
Case in point: Curt Schilling.Delete
Ah, you are a Red Sox fan.Delete
Nope, just a reader of the news.Delete
Yes, heard he retracted that tweet comparing Musl. and Nazis, after some sport network pulled his announcing assignment for now.Delete
Bad as Trump is, he's not quite in that category.ReplyDelete
I was thinking the same thing about Trump and America- he might be the President we deserve. He's certainly the candidate the Republicans deserve. He's free of the tethers of the big money men who want to win elections- he is the Republican id run lose, unhidden from its political correctness, so to speak.ReplyDelete
I'm excited and terrified to watch. I rather like the description your friend gave of Trump- "He speaks like the guy who has three drinks at the end of the bar. He just talks." Although I think he sounds like those guys wish they sounded like after three drinks. He genuinely has a weird, terrifying way about him.
Would he be any worse than any other Republican? Would Jeb or Cruz, Walker etc be much better? Ever heard some of the whacko things Cruz says?ReplyDelete
Trump does not seem to be as anti-gay or anti choice as some of the above.
That is true. You'll notice, I'm not fulminating against Trump. He is an astoundingly shallow figure. But compared to Ted Cruz or Scott Walker, he's Solon the Lawgiver.Delete
This is why I'm so astounded at references to the Republicans' "deep bench." "Crowded" and "deep" are not equivalent.Delete
I had to check: the election isn't until 2016. No wonder nobody votes. They're sick and tired of the process, disgusted with the nastiness imputed to all the candidates, and cannot bear to vote for either of the two begrimed losers they're left to choose.ReplyDelete
So true, John. It gets earlier every election and even more money wasted.ReplyDelete
The famous observation by Karl Marx that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce, brings to mind Jack Cade as a historical predecessor of Mr. Trump. Cade's unsuccessful rebellion against the crown was featured in Shakespeare's seldom produced play about the reign of King Henry VI. Although not much is known about the historical Cade, the Bard pictures him as a demagogue offering magical solutions to real problems in an exchange that features a memorable retort from one of his followers. In response to popular acclaim Cade says: "I thank you good people--there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree like brothers and me worship me their lord."ReplyDelete
To which Dick the Butcher famously responds" "The first thing we do, lets kill all the lawyers." And Cade says "That I mean to do."
A recurring theme of interviews with Trump supporters is that they like him because he is a businessman who knows how to get things done and not a lawyer or one of those do nothing politicians. When pressed for specifics on how he would solve the formidable task of removing 11 million illegal aliens in the face of formidable legal and logistical barriers he responded that he would do it by replacing all the idiots now running government programs with efficient managers. Just like building a hotel.
Don't you love Marx? Do bad his ideas were implemented poorly. Same for Engels.ReplyDelete
you mean too badDelete
If someone put a gun to my head and said this one or that, I'd take Trump over the holy roller Cruz and co.Delete
This should make the religious right nervous, He doesn't know his Bible verses.ReplyDelete
Trump is bad, but so are Hillary and Sanders. It is all the same and makes no difference. They all support this evil system in the worst of all countries in history.ReplyDelete