To Trump or not to Trump? Whether ’tis nobler on the page to be a morbid cynic or a self-righteous arse?
That is the question those of us working in American right-wing media have been staring in the face for four years. Looking back, the Trump years feel like one of those awful ‘would you rather?’ games that teenagers play. ‘Would you rather be half-fish from the waist up or from the waist down?’ ‘Would you rather have pubes for teeth or teeth for pubes?’ You know the sort. Of course, you can make the case for either option if you really want to (and some people do), but the most sensible answer remains, ‘This game is rubbish. I’m not playing.’
Biden is also rubbish, as it happens. And Harris is terrifying. Why? What’s the word count again?
What I will miss about Trump is the tweets with which he went to battle. I found them a mixture of homily and wit. He had an ability to convey sharp insights in just a few words. I forgive, even ignore, the perceived meanness in some, given the lunatic attacks on him by, basically, cowards attempting to goad him.
What I expect from Biden is a misspent urge to redo what Trump undid of the Obama/Biden era. The prime and essential target is to regrade Mideast hegemony for Iran (China) and necessarily degrade Israel and its new Arab friends.
I also look forward to a chance to short plywood futures and Twitter shares.
I’ll miss the mystery of Melania. We were all so flummoxed when she visited the US-Mexico border wearing a jacket with the phrase ‘I really don’t care. Do U?’ scrawled on the back. In those telephone-call tapes, leaked to the press by her treacherous former aide, Melania revealed she wore it to show the ‘left-wing media… I don’t care.’ But the stunt still makes my head spin. Did she hate being First Lady? Or was she secretly the power behind the throne? How many Melania impersonators were there — and what will happen to them now? So many questions; so few answers. Farewell, then, America’s Sphinx-like FLOTUS. And Happy Christmas, even if, as those tapes revealed, you don’t ‘give a fuck’ about the decorations and stuff.
Donald Trump was the finest stand-up comic ever to occupy the White House, or in fact any senior position in the nexus of pompous and sclerotic seriosity that is the US government. His timing was perfect, his repartee deadly, his reduction of the false characters played by his rivals — Little Marco, Crooked Hillary, Sleepy Joe — hilariously accurate in exposing their true natures.
A slightly camp Henny Youngman, Trump thought on his feet. He thought with his mouth open, and he was still faster than his alleged betters. George W. Bush went cross-eyed before the teleprompter, Barack Obama cannot speak without one, and Joe Biden cannot speak even with one. Trump didn’t need a prompt: when obliged to read from an autocue, his expression was one of frowning disbelief. ‘Who wrote this rubbish?’ he was thinking. ‘What kind of idiot could believe this?’ These are the responses of any half-sensible viewer, and that confirms Trump was closer to the American people in spirit, albeit not tax returns, than any president in our time.
He bequeaths to us Joe Biden, a subject no less rich in satiric potential, but one whose comedy is entirely inadvertent.
What I’ll miss about Trump: his empathy, his compassion, his willingness to overlook slights, and be ready with an encouraging word for friend and foe alike. I’ll also miss the way he warps all sense of reality.
As for Biden, he might be a senile marionette for the socialists, China and our big tech overlords. Who knows, who cares? All I care about now is that he’s bringing dogs back to the White House — his two German Shepherds. Which speaks well of him. You know what they say about trusting men who don’t like dogs: you can’t. Trump doesn’t have a dog. The man who watches four to eight hours a day of cable news says he doesn’t ‘have any time’. But the leader of the free world needs a faithful companion, one who will sit and roll over and fetch. Mike Pompeo doesn’t count.
My favorite moment of the Trump years came in October 2019 when the President was touring a Louis Vuitton handbag factory in Texas. A French reporter asked, ‘You have vairy low unemployment rate in the US and we have a vairy high unemployment rate in France — how come, what the recipe for…?’ Trump, without missing a beat, replies: ‘Well maybe we have a better president than you do.’ He flashed a grin and strutted off. I’ll miss that sort of thing.
In the Biden era, I’m looking forward to a lid being called every day before I wake up to start work.
I’ll miss feeling reasonably confident that my three brothers in the military won’t be sent to die pointlessly in some new war — maybe in one of the old ones, which are after all still happening, but probably not a new one, and that’s something, anyway.
While Donald Trump made little headway toward ending our ‘endless wars’, he at least acknowledged that the reckless use of US military power in recent decades has not served the nation well. I am very curious to see how a Biden administration will approach this issue. Scuttlebutt has it that Biden will fill his national security team with Clinton- and Obama-era hawks. Have they learned anything from the myriad military failures and disappointments of the recent past? Or will the post Cold War penchant for intervention abroad resume? Much hangs on how the new president answers that question.
Back in 2016 and delighted by the victory of The Donald, I was unaware that his triumph would create more barons (and baronesses) than King John had faced in Runnymede in 1215. They all were employed by the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN and they were all called Munchausen.
I will miss the reservoir of hatred and contempt that Trump provided for liberals. Now that the dam has burst, hatred and contempt will flood everything. As to the Biden presidency, I’m looking forward to Joe’s inability to forward any of his agenda.
The one and only thing I’ll miss about Donald Trump is his open, albeit incoherent, contempt for free-trade ideology and its propagandists. Though he kowtowed to zealots of the religious right, Trump demonstrated admirable resistance to the classical economic theories of David Ricardo, a catechism that in the United States amounts to religious doctrine among academics and politicians of all stripes. Joe Biden would do well to keep the philosophically flexible Robert Lighthizer as US trade representative, but because the President-elect is a dedicated follower of the free-trade gospel he probably won’t. The increasingly anti-globalist working class will notice, as it did when it shifted to Trump in 2016.
For Biden, I look forward to his continued good health, since Kamala Harris seems to be the ultimate identity politician, mainly image with no real principles, who would likely lose to a strong Republican challenger in 2024. Out of benevolent instinct, along with pressure from former Senate colleagues like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown, Biden just might do the right thing from time to time. One of those things would be to leave standing the Justice Department antitrust lawsuit against Google, a company beloved by Democratic party bosses.
I will miss the eschatology of the commentariat. For five years I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, news anchors, wonks and late-night hosts saying, ‘Come and see.’ And I saw a white horse: and the bad orange man that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him:and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
The signs of the apocalypse came in many forms: moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, exaggerating crowd sizes, having large crowds, being mean to Jim Acosta, being mean to Jim Comey, disliking guys named James, appointing judges, not filling cabinet positions, restricting Chinese travel, not restricting Chinese travel soon enough, eating taco bowls. This is not an exhaustive list.
As to what I look forward to under a Biden administration, we should get at least one more season of National League baseball before MLB technocrats introduce the universal DH — right around the time Kamala Harris is sworn in, at which point a dragon will hopefully send one-third of the stars hurtling toward earth.
Trump was an absolute grift — sorry, gift. He was a gift. I laughed every day for five years.
He was a cross between King Kong and a suburban hairdresser. He made me think of an insufferably proud, absurdly vain reality TV Atlanta Hausfrau sometimes. Or was he a scathing original? The first political genius, or anti-genius, of the century? Trump split the heads of half the world. Every idea and fantasy and premonition and derangement poured out of us. There were days when I thought the whole thing was the greatest joke ever told. How on earth did he win? Sometimes I wondered if this was the end of the world; not Trump, but the madness that sprang up around him with every lurch he made. The monstrous potential for overreach and overreaction. The madness. I don’t know if I’ll miss him, but I know that a true history of these years will not be with us for a very long time.