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A Trump T.V. talk show, post-presidency?


Trump is now more unpopular with the American public than he’s been at any point in his presidency since January, 2019. Some 55.4% of the people disapprove of his job performance, while only 41% approve. That’s the average of five respected polls taken in the third week of June, a month that’s been horrendous for Trump: the walk down the ramp, the shaky hands, the disaster in Tulsa, his rank incompetence in handling the pandemic, the firing of the SDNY head, the Bolton book, the ongoing snarling and crazy tweets. No President in the last 75 years has had a lower approval figure at this point in his term of office, with the exceptions of George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, both of whom, of course, were defeated in their bids for re-election.

Americans finally are catching on. They’re exhausted by Trump’s failures and antics, angered by his obvious unfitness for the high office he holds, frightened by his threats, sickened (mentally and physically) by his complete mishandling of the pandemic. It is very, very difficult to imagine him getting re-elected in a mere 4-1/2 months from now. George H.W. couldn’t do it; neither could Jimmy Carter. The first Bush was up against an economic recession, not a horrible one by historic standards, but the public worried that a president who didn’t even know what a grocery store checkout scanner was, wasn’t qualified to lead them. Carter, too, faced a mild recession in 1980, but his doomed campaign foundered more on the failed rescue attempt of the Iranian hostages and a feeling in the country that, while he was a nice enough man, he was in over his head.

No one would call Trump a nice man, or a decent one, or an honest one. No responsible parent would leave her young daughter alone with him. Few would claim that Trump does not place personal interests over the national interest. The screamers and cultists who worship him at his rallies can be under no such illusions. No, they like him for other reasons—because he sticks it to people whom they hate: liberals, gays, minorities, Mexicans, Moslems, college grads, in other words, a majority of Americans.

Why do they hate so promiscuously? I can’t get inside anyone else’s head, but we humans infer things all the time about each other. I look at the faces of Trump lovers at his rallies–ugly countenances, twisted by rage, their gawping mouths chanting their Trump oath—the kind of faces we see in faded newsreels of Hitler rallies. Anger is only human, of course, but the way we handle our anger shows what we’re made of. Decent people recognize that their anger is usually the outgrowth of unresolved issues from childhood, and work on correcting them. Not so, these rightwing, white supremacist Trumpers. Used to being on top, they perceive their authority eroding on a daily business, as people they always thought were inferior to them acquire power. A person who was mentally and ethically balanced would recognize this psychological phenomenon and figure out ways to combat it, but not these Republicans. They give in to every resentment. They don’t have the capacity to see dangerous and unmoored tendencies within themselves—a basic requirement of a functioning democracy. Instead, they yield to their resentments. This is why they’re so dangerous. America is a patchwork quilt of races, religions, ethnicities, sexual practices, family backgrounds. Normal people realize that if America is to go forward, we have to learn to live with each other. That’s what “democracy” means: Let’s work out our differences.

Republicans, on the other hand, don’t want to work anything out. They want everybody to be like them: Christian (and I mean rightwing, theocratic Christian). Straight and homophobic. Anti-choice. White. Not too educated. They want to wall America off from the rest of the world, and systematically get rid of their internal enemies. How does one work with such extremists? You can’t, any more than the democracies could work with Hitler. The free world had a simple choice: defeat Hitler, or let him take over. There was no inbetween. Neither is there an inbetween now: there is no way to work with these radical, extremist Republicans and their leader, Trump, because they’re not interested in compromise. It’s their way or the highway. Americans know that’s wrong; and that’s exactly why Trump’s approval-disapproval numbers are what they are, and aren’t going to get any better.

I’ve worried incessantly about a civil war, stoked by Trump, who believes that if push comes to shove, his side would win. But with Biden’s lead, even in swing states, continuing to widen, I’m starting to think that, if Election 2020 is a Democratic blowout, not even Trump will be in a position to question it. He might just have to go peacefully into that good night. Post-presidency, maybe he’ll start a talk show on Sinclair, where he can have all sorts of fun guests: Tucker Carlson, Franklin Graham, Alex Jones, Jon Voight, Ted Nugent, Alan Dershowitz. He’ll also be contending with a tsunami of well-publicized lawsuits coming at him and his children. One thing’s for sure, the Trump saga as T.V. entertainment is far from over.

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