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Goodbye Donald: a 21-fart salute to a naked president – Part 1

January 18, 2021

Rumour has it that Donald Trump will depart from office to the accompaniment of a red carpet, a military band and a 21-gun salute. As far as I’m concerned, his supporters could arrange for him to be carried away on a chariot of fire to the accompaniment of the Hallelujah Chorus, and that would still be fine. So long as he goes.

I was wondering what kind of tribute I could offer the outgoing president, who has provided me with so much to write about over the past five years. Something on a sufficiently epic scale (by my standards) to do justice to his malign achievements. Then I thought of a headline, and everything flowed from there. To go back and look at all my posts that featured Trump is an act of narcissism of which he would surely approve, being an expert in looking at the mirror himself.

So for your delectation, here is a selection of short quotations from everything I’ve written about Trump since September 2015, which was when his presidential ambitions started on the road to reality.

The narcissism on my part is, I suppose, because this is an opportunity to reflect that I had the bastard figured out from the start. But then so did others, so I can’t claim any special insight. I do, however, feel that I was ahead of the curve on the odd occasion, and that maybe I offered a few perspectives as a foreigner looking from afar, that might have helped a few Americans to think differently about their country, and possibly mine.

Conceit? That’s for you to judge.

The post is in two parts. It’s a long read, for which I don’t apologise. Part 1 covers 2015 to 2018, which you could say was the period when Trump’s lunacy was getting into gear. Part 2 takes us up to today. If you want to look at any of the posts in full, you will find them under Donald Trump in the tag map at the top right of this page.

So this post, and the next, is to celebrate the downfall of a busted flush. An emperor without clothes. A naked president.

21 September 2015: Looking beyond the UK, there’s always the theatre of the grotesque in the US: the Republican presidential debates, starring that paragon of self-effacing modesty, Donald Trump. But I’m afraid I can’t look at the ghastly Donald without getting the feeling that the conspiracy theorists who claim that the world is in the control of a cabal of half-human, half-lizard oligarchs might actually be right.

December 8 2015: If thirty percent of Republicans weren’t telling the pollsters that they supported Donald Trump, you would think that he was the star of a reality show in which they dragged the most bigoted, narcissistic bore out of some downtown dive of a New York bar and stuck him on a podium. Along with a bunch of distinctly odd but slightly less extreme individuals.

5 February 2016: Dr Ghada, as a Muslim, is an example of the sort of person whom Donald Trump, if elected President of the US, would seek to deny admittance to his country. Which goes to show what a fundamentally stupid man Mr Trump is, but also what a distorted and one-dimensional the view of Muslims prevails among large swathes of the American electorate whose prejudices he seeks to harness.

24 February 2016: Should Donald Trump become president, America – and the rest of the world – will perhaps have cause to be thankful that the checks and balances of the US constitution exist to curb his wildest inclinations. From afar they may seem a recipe for paralysis, and no more so than over the past six years during which President Obama has repeatedly been stymied by a republican-dominated congress on issues like gun control. But they also mean that Trump may find it impossible to implement some of his loopier policies in the face of fierce opposition, even within his own side.

March 1 2016: I do believe that the combination of influences that has led to Donald Trump’s popularity, whether by accident or design, amounts to grooming. It’s happening in his country, in mine, and every other nation where the big bad wolf lurks in the undergrowth.

March 8 2016: It’s reasonable to suppose that whereas Hitler’s best years were theoretically ahead of him, Trump faces only physical and mental decline. Hitler looked forward to perhaps another thirty years in power. Unless Trump uses his money to unlock the secret of immortality, he has a maximum a decade before he enters his dotage. No thousand-year Reich in prospect for Donald.

May 10 2016: Generous, decent and principled America, I’m begging you. Pull back from the brink. Don’t entrust this man with your future and ours. Through your abundant natural and human resources, your competitive spirit and yes, though the ideals implanted in your DNA by your founding fathers, you have become the world’s lodestar, its reference point.

October 15 2016: But should I be so inclined, would I discuss my deeds and desires in a locker room, as Trump claims he does from time to time? Unlikely. I can’t think of any less congenial location for a discussion about heterosexual love and lust than a place where sweaty, half-naked men gather together, no doubt casting envious glances at their team-mates’ personal dimensions. Something faintly homoerotic about that, don’t you think?

October 29 2016: It’s in attitudes towards freedom that Britain today most closely resembles the US. I like to think that a Donald Trump would never flourish on the British political landscape (though Farage in his role as a Donald mini-me together with his pugilistic colleagues cause one to wonder). But Trump is all about Freedom From: immigration again, interference by federal government, terrorism and the corrosive effects of globalisation.

November 2 2016: So the message to Americans who keenly await a new dawn under Donald Trump is that those wire factories and steel mills will never return unless he raises import tariffs so high that the end product becomes cheaper to buy from his own country rather than from abroad. And if he raises the tariffs, how much will it cost his manufacturers to buy the materials they need to create the next generation of computer chips, over which China has a near-stranglehold? Or the next generation of nukes, or just about anything else that it imports?

November 10 2016: It will not be the first time that America has elected a President with a few screws loose, but with Trump at least we know where the screws are. This was not the case last time a potentially unhinged president was in office. Richard Nixon’s paranoia was pretty well known, but it was only after his resignation that the full extent of his obsessive, depressive and drink-fuelled behaviour while in office became known.

November 12 2016: The grim visage staring at you in this picture would be enough to scare the living daylights out of 007, Luca Brasi, ISIS, Kim Jong Un or a pack of rabid attack dogs. Uncle Fester on steroids. The face of a serial killer, a torturer, a Christian-persecuting Roman emperor, a paranoid eunuch at the court of a fratricidal Ottoman Sultan? (The picture was of Trump’s hairless head being sculpted by Madame Tussaud’s)

November 22 2016: In my fevered imagination, Belardo is the Anti-Trump. A chain-smoking ascetic stands opposite Trump’s teetotal self-indulgence. A pope who is loyal to nobody (not even to God, it seems) and a president-elect who prizes loyalty above all things. (From a review of Sorrentino’s The Young Pope)

December 6 2016: But thanks to Trump’s (and possibly Vladimir Putin’s) efforts, we’re now at the stage when we either choose to believe what we’re told because of who tells it (Trump, the New York Times, the imam, the pastor, our parents or the family doctor) or we believe nothing without going to great lengths to convince ourselves of the bona fides of the teller and the information they convey. To do the former is easy. To do the latter can be an impossible burden on our time.

January 19 2017: (Lyndon) Johnson, himself thin-skinned, endured the opprobrium for four years before he threw in the towel. Would Trump, who is a more fragile individual than LBJ ever was, last that long? I doubt it. It would probably be a matter of how long before he tried to do something irrational and catastrophically stupid, at which point one would hope that more grounded people around him would either thwart him or declare him no longer competent to continue in office. (Almost true, as it turns out)

January 25 2017: If Trump can induce such a striking personality change in people like Simon Schama, he’s well on his way to fulfilling one of his campaign pledges already – he’s creating an industry of Trump insulters, not only in America but across the world. Jobs galore!

January 30 2017: Trump doesn’t care about completed staff work. He cares about the transaction, and the wave of gratification he receives from adoring supporters to whom he made his promises, now kept, during the election campaign. He will bathe in the acclamation of the yes-men who surround him. If thousands of people are suffering because his actions were not thought through, so be it. What he lives for is the moment he signs the order and waves it in front of the cameras with a triumphant snarl.

February 21 2017:  Trump is far smarter than the average protozoa. He even knows where Sweden is – which is more than can perhaps be said for some of his supporters. And he has great words.

February 28 2017: The very fact that the tactics used to put Trump in the White House and drag the UK out of the European Union are becoming increasingly known and understood is some assurance that they will not be so effective next time round. The element of surprise will have been lost.

March 10 2017: Will Trump’s world really turn out to be even more gruesome than those of Carrie Mathison and Frank Underwood? You might think that; I couldn’t possibly comment.

22 April 2017: Abuse makes nothing better – not the target, not the originator and most likely not the situation. Advice to myself that I shall no doubt forget next time I hear some self-righteous lemming-herder remind us that the people have spoken, next time I see a vicious headline in the Daily Mail calling out traitors and saboteurs, and next time I hear Donald Trump’s whiney, sneery voice and his piggy eyes bulging with faux anger.

April 25 2016: I suspect that come 2020, if he hasn’t been impeached by then, Trump will have learned that walls built to keep people in are far more effective than those that keep them out. So expect in his next campaign a promise to build more beautiful walls. This time they’ll be rectangular, and full of bars. “Round’em up – lock’em up”. That’ll go down well with his supporters, I would imagine.

May 11 2017: In my experience, firing people, especially when they are part of an organisation that is under stress, can cause a further dip in morale even if the firing was justified. People wonder who’s next, and take steps to cover their backsides. If the firing is done as a demonstration of power – management by thunderbolt as I call it – the danger is that those who have independence of thought, initiative and creativity either leave, or form disgruntled cells of resistance. Those who remain in power are the yes-men (and women).

May 13 2017: I’ve often heard it said that for the Republican leadership, power, and the interests of the party, are more important than the national interest. If this is true – and it needs to be said that it’s certainly not the case with some senior figures such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham – then it’s easy to understand why, from their standpoint, getting rid of Trump might feel like turkeys voting for Christmas. (Clearly I misread Mr Graham at the time)

May 15 2017: Imagine a day in the life of the unfortunate Reince Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff. Surrounded by a web of poisonous relationships between scheming courtiers who hate each other. Walking corridors where staff nervously eye their mobile phones, occasionally muttering “POTUS is tweeting again…Jesus!” Constantly dealing with outrage and confusion over Trump’s utterances, and fending off lawsuits triggered by his flawed executive orders. Bombshells to the left and tantrums to the right.

May 16 2017: Since Trump became president, the echo chamber, full of the sweet sounds of reason, has started to feel like a pressure cooker. The voices of reason were sounding like angry wasps trapped in a fish bowl. Over the past couple of weeks, since the Comey firing, the wasps have turned into buzz-saws. And now, with the allegations about Trump playing fast and loose with America’s most sensitive intelligence, the buzz-saws are morphing into swarms of shrieking harpies.

June 7 2017: I fear that from now onwards we shall have to endure both styles of discourse: politicians like (Theresa) May being clear and saying nothing, and incontinent orators like (Boris) Johnson and Donald Trump saying the first things that come into their heads in incoherent lumps of brown, disconnected verbiage.

June 23 2017: For this avid follower of the Trumpian madhouse, one moment of sublime comedy has changed my perception of the president’s utterances forever. After Andy Serkis’s appearance on Stephen Colbert’s show, I will never again be able to read a Trump tweet without filtering it through the voice of Gollum.

June 30 2017: The most extraordinary aspect of Scaramucci’s stunning impact on the US political stage is that to me at least – and most likely to the vast majority of people like me who watch the reality show from afar – his existence was unknown a week ago. It’s as if some TV producer invented him for Trump’s benefit and our amusement, like some new character parachuted into the Truman Show, or a contestant inserted into Love Island half-way through the series. What’s next? Caligula’s horse? The Terminator? Coco the Clown? Your guess is as good as mine. One thing’s for sure, if he continues to recruit such colourful characters, Trump will put Broadway out of business.

January 15 2018: Theoretically, Donald Trump can bring the world’s economy to its knees with a serious misstep. He can also trigger conflict in any number of regions without directly involving his country. It’s some consolation that he is constrained from precipitate action by separation of powers enshrined in the US constitution. His freedom to act is also curbed by the growing counter-weight of China and Russia. But his ability to take the ultimate step – to spark a nuclear war and thereby wipe out most of humanity – is not so constrained in the event of an imminent threat – whether real or imagined. Which is why we should be pleased that every incoherent rant and tweet increases the likelihood that the person who really does have a button on their desk will think extremely carefully before pressing it.

February 15: If the top secret organisations are indeed using time travel, I’m surprised they haven’t lifted The Saviour out of Nazareth on an assignment to bring forth the End of Days. That would certainly appeal to Mike Pence. However, I suspect that JC would be so horrified by his gun-toting, immigrant-hating, camels-passing-through-the-eye-of-a needle American disciples that he’d make a quick getaway back to Gethsemane. Should time travel already have been invented, you can certainly bet on Trump controlling it rather than the Democrats.

April 4 2018: I suppose the fact that the “leader of the free world” hasn’t yet graduated from venomous tweets and blunderbuss lawsuits to more extreme tactics is some cause for comfort. Leaking is a chequered profession, but who knows? Perhaps a leaker will end up bringing down the President. Plenty more to come on Donald Trump, I suspect.

April 15 2018: When the real president is spewing his narcissistic vomit on Twitter, firing his staff like a medieval potentate, causing fear and uncertainty both within his own country and outside it, and pandering to every special interest prepared to grease his palm with campaign dollars, it’s comforting to think that there might be another way, even if it’s in the imagination of a TV scriptwriter. (From a review of Designated Survivor)

July 13 2018: Yesterday, as I was strolling through a leafy side street in north London, the air filled with the kind of low-frequency music you sometimes hear coming from a car with high spec sound system, throbbing with menace. Shortly afterwards, the source of the noise came into view: two black helicopters, each the size of London buses. Down below, a couple of builders working on a house refurbishment, stopped, looked up and pointed. “Oi, look”, one of them yelled, “it’s fucking Trump. Shoot the bastard down!”

December 2 2018: The next juicy bone of contention is the claim by demagogues that overturning Brexit and the ending Trump presidency would result in civil unrest and violence. You would expect such assertions by the likes of and Farage and his US counterparts. But when the same arguments are made by mainstream politicians and commentators, then we have reason to be concerned.

Part 2 will appear shortly. I bet you can’t wait.

From → History, Politics, USA

2 Comments
  1. Do you think that politicians might possibly be a bit inclined towards fibbing Steve?

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