‘Laughable Greatness’ linked to foolish knavery
Bravo, great job, Trump! It took Dubya, the ex-worst president, years before majorities deemed him a joke. What I call Trump’s “Laughable Greatness” in record time exposed who he is (unhinged), what he doesn’t know (nor want to learn), and what he can’t do – say, run a government, corral coalitions, or talk coherently for five minutes straight. And Trump’s not alone, as his key talking heads incur copious mockery for bad faith, unforced errors and eye-popping buffoonery. With surging conflicts of interest, family profiteering, the Russian stench, and an unstable temperament, Trump has become for critics a tediously predictable, but grimly amusing one-note joke.
Take Trump’s vaunted deal-making prowess, so invisible one wonders who really wrote “his” book, “The Art of the Deal,” which pushed win-win, not lose-lose. Trump rolled over on his absurd Great Wall and flubbed immigration rules, altogether and quickly betraying much that his campaign held sacred. Note his instant federal budget concessions to Democrats. Trump’s “foreign policy,” as it were, now rejects candidate Trump’s myriad delusions, on trade, agreements, even what constitutes an enemy or friend. His unscripted interviews (and wretched press conference) display unschooled, nonsequitur gobbledygook, surpassing even Palin’s word salad mush.
Turning politics, if not testable reality, into endless, low-brow entertainment is, for his ardent fans, still working as the huge, screw-you practical joke. Right, cheap shots are how to demolish entrenched elites: that happens by simply turning a fake reality TV clown into fake news president. But when the joke encompasses the theater of the absurd, and the ship of state totters, must we not resist with full satiric guns firing and protests?
All in all, the GOP primary’s foul-mouthed “entertainer” is now Laughingstock-in-Chief. Who in Congress now takes him seriously, as when he insults Republican dissenters or debunks the Senate filibuster because it makes him work too hard? Think federal judges quake when rejecting his half-assed executive orders? Think Washington’s old guard doesn’t roll their eyes at endless, often bizarre lies and flubs? Think Democrats won’t steamroll Trumpery as their path to House control?
However damaging in the end, any president exposed as knee-jerk fraud enters the comic realm. Shocks are not shocking when they’re ho-hum. Previously nefarious foreigners only have to flatter Trump’s delusions of grandeur and bingo, they’re his best buddies. Trying to sell farce in place of top-drawer legitimacy invites a laugh riot. When the faux king can’t stop playing the jester, and vice versa, that’s both funny haha and funny horrible. ‘We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning,” barked Trump. Okay, folks are certainly sick and tired.
The first 100 days confirm Trump’s celebrated “disruptions” are empty stunts, playing to the cheap seats, full of surface noise and mock fury. Elitist bankers from Goldman-Sachs – previously demonized – hold more power than ever. Corporations rule. Crony capitalism is in. The family brand booms. Trump’s phony populism hasn’t changed Washington, Congress, the courts, or the press – and what special interests aren’t thrilled with his deregulatory, ax-wielding cabinet? Here, here! for the “Trump swamp” – wider, deeper, and much nastier for Main St.
Transparent, indefensible, repeated foolishness is funny, reinforced when Trump covers ignorance by doubling down his make-believe. The biggest joke on Trump? He’s his own worst enemy, battering his rejected minority rule with self-destructive hiccups. The only measure that surpasses Trump nonsense is his manifest inability to get things done. When a “can-do” figure of braggadocio clearly can’t and won’t, time after time, the joke sours and rebounds on the source.
Farce dims the hustle
I find it laughable when a moralistic scold (and phony, reassuring father figure) claims high ground while displaying the zero moral compass of a ruthless hustler. Yes, Americans delight in ingenious con artists (in movies at least), but that’s when the nasty mark deserves what he gets. Think “The Sting” or “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” or “Trading Places.” In the real world, with 24/7 coverage, Trump’s no better at sustaining the con game than when running into the ground casinos, football leagues, vodka and water plays, or his criminal university. Fully exposed con artists, who make suckers of ordinary people in pain (like Trumpcare or the austerity budget) make easy stage villains, sneering and twirling their mustaches.
And the worst (or best) “make-Trump-great” joke: here’s the most image-conscious, ridicule-hating, ego-sensitive narcissist who can’t stop committing PR malpractice at his own expense. Increasingly hilarious – the more the self-aggrandizing Trump shows off, the more he shrinks into a small-time crook. Outrageous excesses, like crude provocation for its own sake, are grist for comic mills, and what greatness emerges when 60% can’t decide whether a president is pathologically a fool or knave, often both in the event.
The Achilles heal for this heel
One more standard comic target is the oblivious hypocrite, full of righteous indignation but forever contradicting himself, in this case tainted with criminal malfeasance. Why has Trump started or faced over 3000 legal battles? Why do his children confirm the Russian oligarch loans? Why does he invents outrageous lies, like Obama wiretapped him, then default to the infantile, that he’s just repeating “what others say.” Trump muffs another big joke on himself: when a president literally concedes he doesn’t “stand by anything,” he becomes a sleazy scoundrel who never admits error or apologizes for hurtful slanders. When a nominal adult, aged 70, lies like a guilty five-year-old, he transforms his surface adulthood into comic mayhem.
The combination of agency/Congressional investigations and relentless press scrutiny, along with Trump’s unforced reign of errors, suggest this farcical vaudeville show won’t end well. Trump already looks like a do-little president, gridlocked by his own stupidity and rank incompetence plus deep, Congressional (even GOP) opposition. Brace for more flops, even more flip-flops, and not one major systemic change, as in punishing greedy, conspiratorial billionaire bad guys.
The malignancy of narcissism
We now know the overriding life mission of “malignant narcissists” like Trump is to look good and, come what may, brag endlessly about their unbelievable successes. Because such personalities must see themselves as big time winners, they can only take so much mortification. Crises could well do him in. I posit enough fiascos, with or without impeachment pressure, and Trump could pull a Palin and quit. Why not return to realms where his petty tyranny reigns? If he quits, expect a flood of badmouthing Washington as so sick, sad and corrupt, even his magical, providential genius fell short.
If Dems regain the House in ’18, more likely every week, impeachment will be on the table – and ten the people’s House can begin to say, “You’re fired.” Trump would never suffer a Senate trial for then there’d be open season on his villainous career, fully exposed when tax returns and countless dicey deals go public. Narcissists can’t stand that much infamy. In any case, if abysmal disapproval numbers stay the course, doesn’t that make him electoral poison for the GOP in two and four years? Poison at the top is laughable, too.
“End this failed experiment” bellows Speaker Ryan on Obamacare. Ditto, millions say to Trumpery. That won’t offset all the damage, but at least we’d end both the grim wit and misery of this failed “experiment:” a presidential laughingstock that makes even mediocre predecessors almost appealing.