What the Hell was That?

On January 25, 2021, in Past Morning Briefs, by David

The bar has been lowered.

Let me repeat that.

The bar has been lowered.

Trump escalator down kicked off with a U.S. Presidential candidate calling Mexicans rapists. From there, this country had much further to fall.

And we did.

Orange Satan and his numbskull acolytes MAGA’d this country to laughingstock level. From global warming naysaying and climate accord exiting (down) to vicious immigration policy, aka emigration policy, aka detention policy (Down) to an across the board, multi-disciplinary failure on COVID (DOWN) the story of which is still being written. The latter should be discussed as America’s greatest failure for hopefully decades unless we do something even more stupid like allowing him or his to hold elected office again. Can we disqualify an entire faulty family bloodline?

THEN came the Stop the Steal poetry of a 1/6 Insurrection, conspired, choreographed and executed to dim-witted perfection. (BOTTOM, mainly because time had run out).

The Bar has been lowered. How low would we go had he been given 4 more years?

In a World where auto-tune singing, line dancing, human-sized plush toys doing karaoke passes for top rated network entertainment. With Snoop Dogg crying “amazing” while some shirtless sweaty guy balances and twirls Rosario Dawson on a giant log-swing. Amazing. Indeed.

After so much bottoming, America faces the daunting challenge of Godwin’s Law in attempting to explain to future generations who missed the historic incivility, epic ineptitude and astonishingly inhumane shittiness of the Trump years without evoking Hitler, Nazis and the Holocaust. Don’t get me wrong, both moments were historically heinous. But they were also most certainly very very different.

So, to kick off the Post-Trump, post-alternative facts, post-post-truth America, I thought it might be valuable, healing and perhaps even fun to consider a new cadre of analogous stories and legends from fiction and actual history who are not Hitler but offer up relevant comparison and parallels to the Divided States of Trump.

Here we go:

The Manchurian Candidate

A natural for this enterprise. The 60s brainwashing thriller starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Angela Lansbury where a Russian plant is placed on the precipice of the U.S. Presidency. In our Trump-era version, Donald Trump is Raymond Shaw (does not end well for Raymond), James Comey is Ben Marco (Frank Sinatra’s role), and Vladimir Putin is Eleanor Iselin (played by Angela Lansbury).

With Ivanka Trump as Eugenie Rose (an unfair comparison to Janet Leigh to be sure, but historically quite accurate), and Ted Cruz as Sen. Johnny Iselin (James Gregory, whose character famously states that there are 57 card-carrying members of the Communist Party in the U.S. Congress after spotting 57 on a bottle of Heinz ketchup).

Dan Quayle, Sarah Palin and George W. Bush

When you first met them, you thought they were bad jokes sent from Central Casting to play unsubstantial supporting roles. Then they opened their mouths. Now we long for a simpler time when the POTUS was theoretically a serious person and the VP was a lapdog. With Vladimir Putin as POTUS, Trump as the lapdog, Dan Quayle, Sarah Palin and George W. Bush as the Three Stooges, offensive and largely ignored in their day, yet today relatively beloved as kindly American institutions as seen the hindsight of history’s fuzzy monocle.

The Twilight Zone: “It’s A Good Life

Apocryphal Twilight Zone episode set in Peaksville, OH starring Billy Mumy (also known as Will Robinson in the original TV Series Lost In Space) as a spoiled little boy-monster possessing the power to turn his enemies into obscene objects (eg. – a human jack-o-lantern) and wish anyone who doesn’t think “happy thoughts” away into the cornfield. With Donald J. Trump as Anthony Fremont (Mumy), A.G. James Barr as Mrs. Fremont, Amarosa Manigault as Aunt Amy, Andrew McCabe as Dan Hollis (human jack-o-lantern), and the United States of America as a giant cornfield.

Dr. Strangelove

Another natural. Stanley Kubrick’s surrealist adaptation of Peter George’s novel “Red Alert” with George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Slim Pickens and Peter Sellers in a three-way tour de force as President Merkin Muffley, Group Captain Lionel Mandrake and the titular Dr. Strangelove.

Subtitled “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” this ill-advised real-life re-make allows Trump to stretch his acting chops, trumping Sellers’ multi-character portrayal by playing four roles: Brig. Gen. Jack D. Ripper (Hayden), Gen. Buck Turgidson (Scott), Col. Bat Guano (Keenan Wynn), and the Coca Cola Machine (now a Diet Coke machine in this updated version).

Vice President Mike Pence is a bewildered President Merkin Muffley, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman as Group Captain Mandrake, Senator Lindsay Graham as Major ‘King’ Kong (Pickens), Rudy Giuliani is Russian Ambassador Alexi de Sadesky, Vladimir Putin as the voice of Russian President Kissov and Stephen Miller as Dr. Strangelove.

The ending is a window into our alternate future had Trump not lost re-election fairly and squarely.

The Peter Principle

Adapted into a nearly interminable, full length feature narrated by a verified living descendant of Charles Darwin: The Trump Theorem.

All the Presidents Men

At the same time, the least ironic and the most apropos of all historical comparisons. The central and operating doctrine being Nixon’s famous line uttered to David Frost, “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

Take that sentiment, multiply it by the Unitary Executive Theory (UET), put it in practice, and you wind up with four years so wearisome that even modern proponents of UET, including Attorney General Bill Barr, former Vice POTUS Dick Cheney, Cheney’s daughter Liz, and nearly every Secretary of Defense still living ran for the exits.

Leave it to the bottomless pit of Donald Trump to blast through the hypothetical unboundedness of America’s entitlement to infinitely lust for power.

Dumb and Dumberer

Donald and Rudy. Duh.

* * *

Life imitates art. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Humor is Tragedy + Time
– Mark Twain

Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.
– George Santayana.

The bar has been lowered.

The bar is now open.


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