The Joke’s on Us

OK, this is not a new theory of the Trump Presidency. From the very first it was speculated that he had become an accidental president, never expecting to win and perhaps not even wanting to, but with some ulterior motive most likely linked to marketing the Trump brand in his future business dealings. Of course there were also darker murmurings (and indications) that he was a Manchurian candidate … perhaps even an unintentional and totally befuddled one more along the lines of Being There.

            But Trump’s behavior since losing the election to Biden has been (and continues to be as I write) so off the wall, so seemingly intended to make him look as bad and bonkers and just plain pathetic as possible, as to suggest, and indeed support another theory I myself (along with others, no doubt) had entertained from the very start, which is that he’s doing it just for a joke, just for the sport.

Basically he wants to see just how far somebody can go in putting one over on people. He wants to go down in history as adding a corollary to the oft-Lincoln-attributed dictum that you can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time, namely, that you can fool half of the people all of the time. He wants to get as close as he possibly can to actually shooting someone on Fifth Avenue and still not losing any voters (in fact, gaining voters). Maybe that will be next. (Hey, Dick Cheney got away with something similar, including having his victim apologize to him.) In short, he wants to out-Borak Sacha Baron Cohen. (I think also of Guy Grand in Terry Southern’s The Magic Christian.) 

In fact I think Trump may have been fooling well-nigh all of us all of the time. For consider that Trump has not only dominated just about every news cycle for the last four or five years, but also that in doing so he has both cheered his supporters and outraged the rest of us. Are we not all, then, being taken in? Aren’t we all taking him too seriously if it’s all a joke? 

            Of course this may still be the shrewd Trump who is now carving out a new constituency from the dregs of the Republican Party in preparation of his run for president in 2024 (beginning on January 20, 2021) as candidate of the Trump Party. And the consequences of his actions, no less for being hijinks if that’s what they are, have often been dreadful. So this is not a joke we can just laugh at. 

But this guy is playing with us in some way or other, and indeed the outrage he stokes plays right into his hands of spurring on his followers to resent being tossed into a basket of deplorables, by association as it were, by us outraged folks. My conclusion, therefore, is that introducing some moderation into our responses may be in order if only to curb our tendency to meet hate with hate, which only contributes to the divisiveness that is the greatest danger of all Trump poses. In fact or only in fancy, Trump is both Borat and the Manchurian candidate in effect and therefore needs to be approached with both skepticism and seriousness in due proportions.

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