I’d like to say something reassuring to residents of countries outside the United States: Not one functioning adult here, including Donald Trump, believes that Donald Trump is actually running for president.
And now I would like to say something maddening to residents of countries outside of the United States: Not one functioning adult here, including Donald Trump, believes that Donald Trump is actually running for president.
I’m not saying that Trump wouldn’t grab, gold-plate, and bankrupt the presidency if the American people were to be cussed and/or dumbfuck enough to hand it to him. I’m just saying that he is not, in fact, really trying to run for president, and literally everyone in the country knows that.
And, yes, though you can probably name toddlers who are less id-driven, we can be sure that Trump knows he’s not running. For one thing, you don’t spend that much time finding a font size for your name that tests the limits of structural engineering without great, roiling oceans of insecurity. Actually running for president would mean trying, really trying, to do something that isn’t financing a golf course or a building/penis substitute with someone else’s money, and that is the kind of work Trump just isn’t cut out for.
But a more obvious giveaway is the simple fact that if Trump were really running for President, he would be dialing back on the racist bullshit he’s been spewing instead of trying to see if he can peg the meter on being a publicly horrifuckulous human being. Real presidential candidates are allowed to be terrible, batshit, racist people, but much like Rick “Blah People” Santorum, they quickly learn that they must use coded language when they do it.
Now, let’s be clear: Trump’s campaign is not a satirical one. The fact that it is not is one of the great tragedies of our age. Properly deployed and with a few ounces of awareness, he could have been an amazing political gadfly. But no. Instead of reducing the last several years of GOP rhetoric to its loathsome underpinnings as a means to cluster-bomb his fellow Republicans with shame, Trump appears to be reducing their message to its cruel and racist essence just to get his dumb shouty face on TV more.
I’m not sure if it’s because of that insecurity thing or if it’s because he hopes to be paid to fire more people on teevee…
…and I don’t care. Nor should any of us know or care. It would be like stopping to wonder whether the guy taking a dump in the middle of the subway station is doing it for simple physical relief or as a piece of performance art. The important thing is to get the hell out of there and look at anything else.
So if literally every single media commentator knows that Trump is not really running for president, why are they all so frantically pretending that he is?
Because in modern American society, pointing out when a rich person is faking something important is rude.
For example, you may possibly have heard of a performer named Bill Cosby who was pretending to be both a figure of innocent childlike playfulness and a beacon of proper morality. As it turned out, what he was is more along the lines of “coldblooded serial rapist.” And as it further turned out, there were colleagues, entertainment industry contacts, and just dudes who were involved in stand-up who knew for decades that Cosby was only pretending to be a benevolent, community-minded non-rapist. But nobody brought it up because Cosby seems to have started his sexual assault career after his entertainment career really took off, and pointing out when a rich person is faking something important is rude.
Can you think of anyone in your life (assuming you are among the non-wealthy) who could be accused of incredibly similar assaults by more than 40 women and not be at least in hiding? And yet there are, even now, people holding tight to the position that talking about Mr. Cosby’s eccentric little habit of drugging and raping women instead of focusing on his groundbreaking work in the field of cutesy dancing is extremely bad form.
Now take Mr. Cosby’s privilege of wealth and multiply it by the privilege of White Guy (the general rule of thumb is a factor of five), and you’ll see the dimensions of the problem the media is facing with Mr. Trump.
And it’s not as though they weren’t already dug in fairly deep. Once they’d pretended that the Spruce Goose was a viable airplane design and that Bruce Willis was correct to start a blues band OH GOD THE BRUCE WILLIS BLUES BAND
…and that Paris Hilton had any reason at all to be on television, it was a bit late for the media to start mentioning it when other rich people were pretending things. And so they let Wall Street bankers pretend that collapsing the economy did not involve anything that should be looked at as a crime and when Trump lurched back into their field of vision, they just gritted their teeth and kept on rolling.
And then, of course, there is the problem of the media’s ongoing participation in the pretense that Trump is a savvy businessman instead of a man who has been through bankruptcy multiple times, was sued by his investors, and failed to figure out how to make money with a casino. Because if you’re rich enough, the media won’t point it out when you pretend that you don’t suck at being rich.
So here we are, and there seems to be no way out. Trump’s campaign would almost be enjoyable buffoonery if it weren’t for its core nastiness and racism, but here we are with our most respected news outlets are stone-facedly reporting on his poll numbers instead of doing the right thing and refusing to continue with the broadcast unless his speech footage is frisbeed out a window.
It’s true that, for the preservation of the few shreds of democracy we have left, we shouldn’t stop any interested citizens of age, even Trump, from running for president (though you’ll note which interested citizens can afford to do it). And I’m not suggesting that Trump’s views, no matter how vomiscrotacular, should be censored. We must support his right to free speech, even though Trump’s interpretation of the First Amendment is less about the vital free flow of ideas and more about a rage-filled hairpiece fuming at the possibility of facing the miniscule inconvenience of ever having to think about another human being.
And so, much like the Romans had to vigorously support Nero ‘s pretense that he was an Olympic-caliber chariot driver, our media personalities try not to let the terror and madness show in their eyes as they do yet another freaking story on What Trump’s Run Means for the GOP. If you walk past the offices of news producers late at night, you can hear them weeping and gibbering. What you can’t hear them doing is putting a stop to any coverage that takes Trump seriously.
And thus once again the United States is lurching perilously close to electing a proudly, breathtakingly uninformed bellicose rich guy to our nation’s highest office.
And once again, residents of countries outside the United States, we apologize for the inconvenience.