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My Fantasy About Trump

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Do you think Trump regrets saying, barely two weeks ago, that coronavirus was “a Democrat hoax”?

I doubt it. “Regret” means feeling sorry you did or said something. “Feeling sorry” requires a conscience. Trump, a sociopath, has no conscience. In Freudian terms, he lacks a superego—the mind function that suppresses the animal “id.” Trump is all animal id, with the rapacious cleverness of his ego steering the ship.

Nonetheless Trump did call coronavirus “a Democrat hoax” and I hope that the two remaining candidates, Biden and Sanders, remind voters of that all the time. I’m sure they will. Both men, to their credit, are going out of their way to remind the American people how miserable Trump is as a human being. Americans understand that; even Republicans know that he’s despicable. They don’t care, of course—or so they tell themselves—because he’s giving them what they want—judges, restrictions on immigrants, things like that. “Nobody elected Trump America’s pastor,” concede the evangelicals.

I have a fantasy. Let’s say it’s early April, next month. Trump hasn’t been seen in a few days; the tweets have stopped. Everybody’s wondering. Since there’s no longer a daily press briefing, reporters have nobody to ask. Reports begin to leak out from the West Wing: Trump might be ill. The rumor spreads that he had a fever. Somebody said he was coughing and sniffling during a meeting. The nation is in an uproar. Stephanie Grisham is compelled to call in the White House Press Corps. “President Trump is self-quarantining for a while. He came down with some symptoms of a cold or flu.” “Has he been tested for coronavirus?” a journalist asks. “I’m not going to make any statements that compromise President Trump’s right to patient confidentiality,” Grisham replies. This is like poking a stick into a wasps’ nest. The reporters go wild with questions. Grisham ducks out of the room.

That night a convoy of black SUVs and ambulances is seen leaving the White House. Reporters follow. The convoy pulls up to Walter Reed Medical Center; the reporters are kept at least 100 yards away as a special patient is carried into the emergency room. The patient is on a gurney. Reporters can see that the patient is a large man with a fat belly. They cannot see his hair but the word instantly goes out: it’s Trump.

The hospital begins issuing bulletins. The President is in serious condition with pneumonia. No, he’s in critical condition. The family has been summoned: paparazzi catch photos of a black-clad Melania, a subdued Donald Junior, an ashen-faced Ivanka with Jared, looking, as usual, like a mortician. The nation is on the edge of its collective chair. Is the President dying?

April 12, shortly before noon, the official announcement: “The President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, died at 11:27 a.m. this morning, of complications caused by COVID-19, the coronavirus disease.” Those old enough to remember a similar announcement about the death of John F. Kennedy are transported back to that moment. But the two moments are dissimilar in this respect: when Kennedy died the nation was plunged into grief. When Trump died, there was dancing in the streets—literally. People cheered and applauded; they leaned out of their windows and blew New Year’s Eve horns, or threw confetti into the streets below. Total strangers high-fived each other; people in movie theaters and on the subways stood and yelled “Hooray.” The scene from “The Wizard of Oz” where the Munchkins sing “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” went viral on YouTube.

Republicans said it was shameful the way Democrats celebrated Trump’s death. The Democratic presumptive nominee, Joe Biden, said he regretted some of the excesses but added that it was “understandable” that some people were happy to be rid of Trump. Sean Hannity said Joe Biden ought to be ashamed of himself, forgetting that he, Hannity, once had called for Hillary Clinton to be put to death. A trio of evangelicals—Ralph Reed, Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Franklin Graham—announced a Holy Memorial Service in Washington, D.C. It would feature country and western stars, preachers, Ted Nugent, Sylvester Stallone, Clint Eastwood. The Mayor of Washington, D.C., a Democrat, announced that gatherings of more than 250 people would be banned in his city due to the coronavirus. The evangelicals were outraged; their lawyers demanded that the Supreme Court allow the Holy Memorial Service to proceed. But the Supreme Court, already down to only five Justices because the other four were sick with COVID-19, refused to hear the case. There was no Holy Memorial Service.

Trump was buried at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Michael Pence became the 46th President of the United States. He was assassinated by a deranged white Christian man from Mississippi who thought Pence was Satan. Republicans charged that the assassin had been persuaded to kill the President by Democrats. Rep. Devin Nunes announced he had “evidence” that the Bidens were involved in the conspiracy. House Speaker Pelosi said that, in view of the coronavirus, the U.S. House of Representatives would no longer meet while the pandemic raged. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell below 10,000 for the first time in twenty-five years. The U.S. went into a massive Depression. Joseph Biden was inaugurated as the 47th President of the United States on Jan. 21, 2021. He died of a heart attack two weeks later. His Vice President, Kamala Harris, instantly became the 48th President. She served out her term, was re-elected in 2024, and re-elected again in 2028. The Republican Party never was officially outlawed; it simply ceased to exist, the way the Whig Party stopped functioning in the 19th century. The Democratic Party split into two wings: one progressive, the other moderate. Coronavirus disappeared just like the Republican Party: one day, people realized nobody was getting it anymore.

When people looked back at the events of the early 2020s, they could hardly believe them: it was like a dream. Had America really had a President Trump? Yes, some said; no, others claimed. Eventually, it no longer mattered. Hurricane Imelda destroyed Mar-a-Lago in September, 2025; Trump’s grave was washed out to sea. Donald Trump, Jr. killed himself after his third wife accused him of adultery with a Secret Service man. Ivanka Trump divorced Jared Kushner, who was found guilty of money-laundering in New York and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Ivanka restored her fashion design company. Barron Trump appeared on the cover of OUT! Magazine, the nation’s leading gay periodical; in a racy photograph inside, he was nude except for one hand discretely covering his genitals. Life, in other words, went on.

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