Donald Trump, a man so deeply repugnant, like an old drunk sitting on a grate in some fetid corner of a bus station late at night, muttering profanities and drooling on himself, has actually, materially, ceased to matter. Because, for all his pretensions, and ever scaling delusions of grandeur, America, and the rest of the world, is slowly marginalizing him. He still shocks, offends, horrifies and repulses, but so does that drunk sitting on that grate, unable to prevent soiling himself and unable to muster even the sense of shame about it.
But increasingly he ceases to matter. You have to step back to see it. It’s unlikely anyone, at this point, would let him bomb a basement full of cockroaches let alone a country. He doesn’t make laws, he can’t unilaterally do anything, including stop a cadre of honorable civil servants from unspooling his civilian life deviousness, and probable illegality. He signs executive orders with a theatrical flourish and a pompous signature that looks like his EKG probably does, and the Courts rightfully undo them, or they are meaningless proclamations of unmoored intent. He’s undone some marvellous forward strides in our society, but smarter people will reinstate them when this flailing Vaudeville hour ends. I’ve been saying for a while, his presidency has illuminated the limits of being President. To everyone but him.
Let’s face it — bluntly put, the man is a pig. He does represent a minority virulent, hateful strain of America, sadly, and he did, unbelievable though it seems now, represent almost half of this country who voted for him, who thought he would change things and make them better, and who now, I’m sure, are mostly privately disappointed in him. But he doesn’t — and I say this as a man who is a quarter as old as this country — represent America. America was great before he showed up to crap all over it, it is still great despite him, it will be great long after history has swallowed him like a piece of bad meat that temporarily caused some indigestion. He can’t really damage America, he can only wipe his feces on the walls, and what is probably the world’s most imperfect country, but also probably the one with the biggest, naivest heart, will survive and mostly forget him and absolutely will prevail.
When he referred to Haiti and El Salvador, and Africa generally as if it were a country, as “Shitholes” he incensed and disgusted all good thinking people, regardless of political ideology. We were all Spartacus in that moment. Because it was that crass, like spitting on an old woman crossing the street. Of course it was racist! But who’s shocked? In the end, after the flare of disbelief dies out, the repulsive source of the insult neutralizes the bile of the insult. In the first 24 hours of his saying it, the world was lit with indignation, pretty universally. The next 24 hours fueled the exponential mockery of easily the world’s most mocked human being. The delicious irony is that the man who likes to belittle and mock detractors and opponents, is so completely eviscerated by most of the country he ostensibly leads, and most of anyone else who cares around the planet. You might say….sad!
Haiti and El Salvador are two beautiful countries. Africa is a magnificent, stirring and magical continent. They have had terrible problems, some of their making, some not, and in degrees still have serious problems. But what countries don’t? (It’s a rhetorical question, don’t try to come up with some.) America has problems, which in some ways is worse, because we have such tremendous resources and could do so much more to resolve them.
I will say one thing in Donald Trump’s defense, he knows shitholes. Have you ever stayed in a Trump Hotel? I have. Shithole.
Bob Guccione, Jr. is WONDERLUST’s Editor in Chief