The ‘Baby Trump’ blimp has come to New York. And it looked just as embarrassing and lame in Manhattan as it did when I first saw it on its debut in London’s Parliament Square, amid the protests against the President’s July visit. Frankly, the New Jersey activist Didier Jimenez who raised $4,500 to have the balloon shipped across the pond for a US tour was robbed. As in the UK, all it does is make the protesters brandishing it look like a bunch of idiots.
Part of the problem is its size. It’s just not big enough. When the blimp was first mooted in the run up to the President’s UK tour, everyone imagined that it was going to be huge – as blimps usually are – dominating the skies above the demonstration like some mighty wartime barrage balloon.
In reality, it’s not much taller than two humans standing on top of one another. Everyone nearby conspires to pretend that the balloon is this amazing, hilarious, powerful statement but up close it’s just a damp squib. You can see the disappointment in people’s eyes as they get nearer: ‘Oh. Is that it?’ they’re thinking.
Another problem: it doesn’t fly. At least it barely did on its London outing. After a brief period flying a mere 20 feet in the air, it was taken down – presumably for reasons of air traffic safety. Then again, the higher it goes, the tinier it looks. Which is why the whole Trump balloon became a bit of an own goal for the London protesters back in March. They’d paid £16,000 to have the balloon made. And the story quickly mutated from ‘Just wait till orange man sees what a fool we’re going to make of him’ to ‘How did that bunch of loser protesters manage to pay so much for so little?’ Presumably that’s why this time in New York, it had to remain grounded.
Then there’s the matter of the design. Robert De Niro has called Trump the ‘Baby-in-chief’, so perhaps that’s where the idea comes from. But the problem with Trump from his enemies’ point of view is that he’s such a cartoonish character anyway that the balloon almost enhances his image rather than detracts from it. No, the President probably won’t like the tiny hands, but the blond quiff, the thick eyebrows and the contemptuous open mouth are pretty faithful to his brand. He probably thinks it’s another sign that he’s #winning.