I once went hunting with my uncle as a young man. During our walk through the woods we encountered a raccoon that had become enmeshed in a small length of rusty barbed wire. The raccoon was trying to gnaw off its own leg while also alternately furiously attacking the barbed wire. The results were bloody and unsuccessful.
The image forever seared in my mind from that occasion reminds me now of Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.
In one of Trump’s potential superspreader rallies in the South over the weekend, he stunned no one by suggesting that his political opponent should be locked up for fictional criminal offenses. After all, he suggested the same thing for his opponent in 2016.
Donald Trump has little original programming left. He’s playing his “Best Of” reruns. The base is buying, but the base is dwindling and the president is floundering in a cesspool of tautologies and twisted, self-negating sentences.
He says he respects the democratic process—but won’t commit to a peaceful transfer of power.
He quotes Dr. Anthony Fauci as praising Trump—but trashes Fauci and calls him a “disaster.”
He says he doesn’t know much about QAnon—other than that “they like me very much, which I appreciate.”
These typically oxymoronic Trumpisms would make even Yogi Berra cringe.
On rare occasion, Trump does manage to sprinkle in a new gem—like when he mused on stage this weekend in front of his maskless, faithful followers that if Joe Biden wins the election, then Trump would have to leave the country. While it isn’t true that airline flights leaving from the nation’s capital to non-extradition countries the day of the inauguration instantly sold out, it also wouldn’t be surprising if they had.
That Trump spoke at one of his rallies about leaving the country should he lose is a reminder of just how unhinged he has become—well, that and the embarrassing video of him dancing without moving his feet. He seemed glued to the floor trying to dance to the Village People’s ’70s disco hit “Y.M.C.A.”
Some say Trump’s proclamation about fleeing the country is merely groundwork for once again escaping responsibility for his actions and deflecting the blame onto someone else. Maybe he’s joking, as his supporters maintain, about leaving the country. But would anyone be surprised to learn that political betting markets and mob bookies have found a way to wager on whether he’ll leave the country—or that Trump has managed to earn a percentage off the action?
Besides threatening to leave the country, Trump also mocked Biden for listening to scientists about the coronavirus pandemic, creating an easy opening for Biden:
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 19, 2020
The closer we get to the election the more divorced from reality Trump becomes—and the GOP is nowhere to be seen in holding the madman accountable. The Grand Old Party of Lincoln, the progressive party of Teddy Roosevelt, and the Eisenhower party warning against the rise of the military-industrial complex has become the party of QAnon. Those in this country who are stunned by this are also numb from the disinformation and the inability of what we thought were decent human beings to separate themselves from the lunacy of Donald Trump.
At the end of the day, though, President Trump probably won’t even care if he doesn’t get re-elected. Losing in November would mean he could drop a load of responsibility he never wanted and has never handled well. He’d gladly remove it from his narrow, soft shoulders.
As long as The Donald keeps getting press, he’ll be happy. He may be in court, on the lam, residing with a friendly dictator, or hosting the new WWF Roller Derby Smackdown (is that a thing?), but as long as he draws breath, he’ll find a way to draw a camera. Whatever it takes—riding a unicycle in a large strawberry donut with sprinkles or trying to do the “Triple Lindy” off the pier in Jersey—Trump will manage to get himself on television. It is the only place he feels comfortable. It is the only place he can be himself. Trump almost doesn’t exist unless he’s on television playing the role of the mean insult comic. He thinks he’s Don Rickles, but he doesn’t have Rickles’s heart—only the insults.
The harmful effects of Trump’s outlandish performance during the last four years—on our health, on our economy, on our politics, on our way of life, on our culture—will be felt for generations. And even if he’s defeated at the polls in November, the Donald Trump Show will continue in one form or fashion. As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” It ain’t over yet.