Saturday, January 7, 2017

Wow indeed. Trump's tweets truly terrifying

     One of the most significant of the many wonders about our president-elect is the genius Donald Trump has for instilling sincere amazement into the discovery, or I suppose "re-discovery," of what we already know.
     By Friday I, along with half the county, had spent 19 months taking an intensive cram course in just how brittle, vindictive, mean, petty, and small focus Donald Trump can truly be. We knew. 
     At least we thought we knew. 
     And yet. 
     Here, maybe you missed them. First this:

     Followed by:

    In case you haven't heard, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the one-time box office action hero and former governor of California, is the host of "The New Celebrity Apprentice," the post-Trump reboot of the reality TV show that The Donald stared in for 14 years, before being elected president of the United States.
     Schwarzenegger's "Apprentice" turn was panned by the critics, and if Trump is to be believed—did I just write that?—also in the ratings.
      Let's ponder these tweets a moment, shall we? The strange use of quotations around "swamped,"--an odd usage when referring to getting killed in the ratings, assuming that happened (checking ... in the real world ... yes, "opens weak" according to Variety) then the helpful parenthetical, "(or destroyed)", to shed light for those confused. 
    Then a reference to the "ratings machine, DJT" -- that would be him, Donald J. Trump, referring to himself in the third person. Quite regal, or pathological, of him. Would you call yourself by your initials? I wouldn't do that on a bath towel.
     Ending with the truly strange "But who cares"-- you, obviously, Donald, since you're tweeting it to your 18.9 million followers—and the dismissive "he supported Kasich & Hillary," which explains the whole score settling motivation (Variety doesn't mention Hillary or Kasich, but suggests that opening against "The Bachelor" might have been a factor). 
    But that isn't the incredible part, at least not to me. The incredible part, again to me, is this: he's being inaugurated president in two weeks. He sent these Jan. 6. He stands in a morning coat with his hand on a Bible in 14 days, on Jan. 20.
     A few thoughts:
     A) You would think the man had better things to do, more pressing matters to occupy himself with.
     B) He's executive producer of the show. He's attacking the star of his own show. Which, again, should not be surprising. There was an odd resonance with his attacking the intelligence community for revealing how his buddy Putin skewed the election in Trump's favor. He'll undermine his own business interests if ego is involved, he'll blind our nation's eyes and ears rather than acknowledge he was Moscow's puppet of choice.
     C) I've never been elected president and never will. But you think it would make you a little satisfied. A little safe. A bit above the fray. That it would float you beyond the schoolyard payback of Trump's tweet. That it would make you happy.
    No. Trump is impervious to experience. The wound never heals, the thirst is never slaked. Whenever I write about Trump, I hear from haters who support him claiming that I "hate" Donald Trump. Not true. How could you hate someone so pitiful? So broken? He's King Midas, breaking his teeth on gold food, starving amidst the riches he craves. Nothing is enough.
     I've seen a number of Facebook postings asking why the media doesn't just ignore such tweets. And I can see the logic -- why even bring up something so trivial? And the answer is, because the guy who is rolling in this triviality is going to be leader of the free world in 168 hours. Because his doing so speaks to how completely fucked the country is. 
    Which brings us full circle to my observation at the beginning, that Trump can make the familiar seem fresh. You've barely processed this hour's shock when the next comes whistling overhead, exploding like a shell. People are worrying about "normalizing" this? We can barely perceive it, barely register what he's done before he's off to the next folly.
     Yes, hope is necessary -- I sincerely hope that Trump proves so fraudulent, erratic and deceptive that little of what he actually claimed he will do will get done. But don't confuse hope with expectation. To look at that pair of tweets is to feel true despair, to see the image of the freight train bearing down on us, forming in the dark, light growing larger fast, horn blasting. 


  1. We have a petty, immature, vindictive school boy for President.

  2. We do. I wonder what will happen.
    I've been watching "Call Me Francis", a 4-part series on Netflix about the life of Pope Francis. The early episodes are all about the Dirty War in Argentina. As I watched, I kept thinking, "Could this happen here?"

  3. Didn't want to get out of bed this morning. Turned on MeTV and on came a show called Trackdown from the 1950s. Robert Culp was a Texas Ranger who came into a town just as a robed man, beating on a drum from the back of his wagon, dramatically tells the townspeople that the world is about to end. Only he, the man tells them, has the knowledge and power to save them from certain death. He stirs them all up, they become hysterical and shout down a few reasoned souls who tell them he is a con man. All they have to do is give him their money and they will be saved. Over and over he tells them that only he has the knowledge, only he has the expertise to save them. The people without enough money break into the bank and give it all to the man, beating anyone who dares show skepticism.

    The world doesn't end, of course, so some townspeople are still convinced he was their savior.

    The con man's name in the show? Mr. Trump.

    1. I should have mentioned the title of the episode: The End of the World.

      I had to look it up on IMDB to prove to myself that I didn't dream it.

    2. Judge Clement: When we were kids, we were afraid of the dark. And when we grew up we weren't afraid anymore, but it's funny how a big lie can make us all kids again.

      Walter Trump is the name of the villain. Really, Dennis, did you expect us to believe that?


    3. "Some praise at morning what they blame at night
      But always think the last opinion right." A. Pope


  4. I watched it, I confirmed it's existence via IMDB, and I still feel like I dreamed it. It's villain's name and it's metaphor of a con man's ability to make people believe any sort of lunacy is so prescient as to defy reason. Cue Twilight Zone music.

  5. Last night I happened to see the South Park T.M.I. episode from about five years ago and that seemed eerily relevant and prescient, too.

  6. It's perhaps worth noting that Schwarzenegger took the high road and congratulated Trump on winning the election instead of rising to the bait.

    In any case, Trump should be grateful to Schwarzenegger. He and Jesse Ventura (and perhaps Ronald Reagan) helped inure us to the idea of an utterly unqualified celebrity becoming president.

    Bitter Scribe

  7. It brings to mind something Joseph Epstein wrote about Gore Vidal: "He doesn't court the love of critics, or anyone else. Self love, which in him never goes unrequited, is sufficient."

    One wonders at the spectacle of so petty and self-centered a person trying to fill the mold of such as the President who saw the nation through its most terrible war, about whom Ulysses S. Grant said "Mr. Lincoln gained influence over men by making them think it was a pleasure to serve him."

    Tom Evans

  8. It's a year later, but I still shuddered while reading this column. The tweets have become more childish, more revealing, more terrifying, and still, the relatively benign pre-president tweets, caused me to literally shudder with revulsion. That caught me by surprise but it's good to know that I haven't yet become numb. We can never accept Trump as the new normal. We just can't.


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