At the beginning of the week, the huge number of Republicans running for president could be seen as an embarrassment of riches. By Tuesday, when Donald Trump officially joined their ranks, it became riches of embarrassment.
Every comedian and talk show host in America lit a candle to the god of their choice when they heard the news of their great good fortune that Trump had finally taken the presidential plunge after threatening to do so during almost every election cycle since 1988.There will be no shortage of material for late night comic monologues as long as Trump is in the race.
The tone for his campaign coverage was immediately set by a front page story in The New York Daily News with a picture of Trump dressed as a clown, or more precisely, with clown makeup photoshopped onto his face beside the headline “Clown Runs for Prez: Trump throws rubber nose in GOP ring.” This is all the more interesting since the Daily News usually leans considerably to the right.
It goes without saying that the Facebook memes appeared instantaneously. So far they are focusing on Trump’s trademark hair. The first making the rounds was a patriotic Constructivist portrait of Trump in red, white and blue with the white supplied by his imposing coiffure and the caption, “We Shall Overcomb.” This hilarious piece of liberal wit lampooning a person’s appearance was immediately followed by a photo of Trump caught disastrously in a stiff breeze which set loose an enormous rooster’s comb of white blond hair flying in every direction and sported the caption, “If I run, there’ll be hell toupee.”
Trump is unique in the political arena in that far more people are concerned with what is on his head than with what is in it. Combover? Toupee? Dead albino beaver? America and the rest of the world want to talk about it.
Not that some of the ideas Trump threw out in his announcement speech aren’t sure to be crowd pleasers. They include but are not limited to his assertion that “We’re becoming a third world country,” plans to build a massive fence between the United States and Mexico while using his shrewd negotiating skills to make Mexico pay for it and playing hardball with ISIS.
“No one would be tougher on ISIS than Trump,” said Trump. Nothing not to like there except Trump’s disturbing use of the third person when speaking of himself, which is a technique usually employed only by royalty, despots and schizophrenics. Perhaps we should now add megalomaniacs and oligarchs to that list.
It is this very unfiltered, unrehearsed, shoot from the hip quality of speaking that has the comics dancing for joy. One would think that it would be a quality appreciated by ordinary voters who claim to be weary of professional politicians parsing their words ever more carefully in order not to release any unfavorable soundbites.
But two weeks ago, the Washington Post published a poll that showed Trump trailing every single candidate of both parties in favorability ratings. Not only that, he also trailed all of the fictional characters which the Post included in the poll in an uncharacteristic flight of fancy.
Trump and to a lesser degree Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Chris Christie were found to be less favorable than Voldemort. Yes, you read that right. A great many people prefer the Dark Lord to Donald Trump.
It has to be said though that Darth Vader, the Terminator and the shark from Jaws got higher ratings than every single candidate of either party as well as the current president. Not good news for politics in America. Bernie Sanders was the only candidate whose numbers were even in positive numbers. But Trump’s were the worst.
Unlike most politicians who downplay their wealth and privilege to make themselves seem more accessible, it’s very important to Trump that we know he’s rich. He even told us so in his announcement speech. He said “I’m really rich.” And just so we know how rich he is, he said that he had a Gucci store that was worth more than Mitt Romney. A Gucci store in the very same pink marble palace that bears his name and from where he was speaking, Trump Tower.
On Tuesday, the same day that Trump announced his candidacy, Elspeth Reeve published a piece in The New Republic in which she poses the theory that Donald Trump is not just an obnoxious businessman and wannabe politician but that he is the greatest political satirist in America. She proposes that Trump is not just a joke but that he is in on the joke; that he has constructed a ludicrous character to shed light on the sorry state of American politics; a character even more convoluted and disturbing than Stephen Colbert’s character on “The Colbert Report.”
Unlike Colbert, Trump is conducting his satire in real life which I suppose makes him a performance artist. Actually, if Reeve’s theory is correct, Trump is a superb performance artist since he’s been doing this for decades.
I’m not sure that I’m buying Reeve’s theory but I must say that it is the only plausible explanation for that hair.