“I thought her unsinkable, and I based my opinion on the best expert advice.” –Phillip Franklin, White Star Line Vice President
“It’s a funny kind of mind-set. No one knows how it comes about. There’s different theories. Something in the water, maybe. Or in the air. It doesn’t seem to affect everyone the same way. Could it be a virus that can attack almost anyone, anywhere, that can easily slip past your defenses and take over your mind against your will? –A Voice In The Crowd
Do unto others. —Capitalist proverb
SCENE ONE, The Medicine Show
Welcome, one and all, to The Amazing Incredible Floating Circus. Today, we talk about–what else?–Donald Trump. Let’s begin with the Trump rallies.
The spookiest thing about Trump’s rallies is not just the outlandish horror fictions issuing from his mouth about every half minute, but the expressions of childlike wonder and approval on the faces of his adoring worshipers. It seems that no matter what their leader tells them, no matter how absurd, illogical, blatantly racist, no matter how divorced from science, reason or reality,, it all seems to flow magically from his mouth directly into their brains, unfiltered, unimpeded, undiluted, by any critical thought process.
Watching Trump mount the stage can be a shiver-inducing experience. Like turning down a dark alley by mistake, then, noticing–before you can put it in reverse–a clutch of zombies walking stiffly into your headlights.
The Zombie-In-Chief of our country is first and foremost a TV star, and TV stars are accustomed to some kind of musical accompaniment whenever they make an entrance. For Trump, it’s the soaring strains of Lee Greenwood’s wildly popular patriotic anthem, God Bless The U.S.A. Greenwood is a self-professed born-again Christian neocon, whose famous song is not only Trump’s preferred back-up, but also accompanied the inaugurations of Reagan and the two Bush’s. Trump appointed Greenwood to the board of Trustees of the Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts, along with actor Jon Voight, former Arkansas Gov Mike Huckabee, resort exec Kelly Roberts, and a host of other Trump supporters. All that remains is for Trump–who has never attended a single Kennedy Center Honors (a presidential tradition) to rename the center after J. Edgar Hoover or perhaps his old bosom buddy and mentor, Roy Cohn.
So. . .music up, and herrrrrre’s Donny! Right on cue. Melania walks out with him, sometimes, but, for some reason, he always seems a little stiff in her presence, as if he’s slightly intimidated by her. He doesn’t know whether to hold her hand or not, like a kid on his first date. He smiles and waves at the crowd, but you can tell he’s holding back. You get the feeling he’s dying to ditch the babe so he can relax, be himself, and yuck it up with the crowd. On the crowd’s side, they see him up there with her, and they think, what’s she doing here? It’s not that they don’t like her, exactly, they’re just not quite sure what to make of her. Unlike Michelle Obama, who waxed on so often that everybody finally got wise that she was running for president, Melania seldom opens her flap. Incidentally, during her husband’s years in the White House, and now even more since their return to so-called civilian life, Michelle actually managed to get her face pasted on more fashion magazine covers than the ex-professional model, Melania. Hard to believe, but in the world of the Floating Circus, all kinds of things can be true, regardless how weird or baffling.
The point is, in contrast to the voluble Michelle, it’s hard to tell what Melania is actually thinking. She smiles, but her face is inscrutable, like a sphinx. Maybe it’s her foreignness. Where’s she from, anyway? Slow-venia? Where is that? Is she a citizen? Didn’t Trump make a big to-do over Obama’s citizenship, demanding to see his birth certificate or a blood sample or something? Come to think of it, Melania was in on that, too. But Obama speaks English real good, as if he’s been here all his life. I mean, he don’t even sound black. If he was really from Africa, he’d be carrying a spear, wouldn’t he? On the other hand, Trump’s wife’s English ain’t so good. So, how can we be sure she’s a citizen? Should we be demanding papers on her? Can someone be First Lady if they’re not born here? Well, she is his wife, after all, and she is a babe, so. . .yeah, she’s all right. We just don’t like sharing him with her. We want him for ourselves.
So, there he is, and there they are–the folksy, drooling warmth of the crowd, some of them at near-rapture as their hero makes his entrance; we see splots of red TRUMP T-shirts and MAGA hats; the cell phones are up, snapping pictures, some fans calling out, “We love you” as he passes (you can’t actually hear them, but you can read their lips); meantime, he constantly smiles and waves, applauding them back; there’s the trademark fist-jab, the trade-mark finger-point at particular ones in the crowd, then waving and winking, as if he’s known them all his life.
At his June 20th rally in Tulsa, one sweet young thing momentarily stood out from the rest with her perfectly timed “hand-flutter”–so precious!–fanning back tears that might smear her carefully applied mascara. Given her proximity to the stage, and the near-certainty that her idol would see it and thereby notice her, the gesture seemed to contain–dare I say?–an almost erotic component. There is, of course, no adequate explanation for this, except that perhaps her delicate senses were so overwhelmed that somewhere along the path from her eyeballs to her brain, the actual physical appearance of this 74-year-old hamburger-fattened oaf was instantly converted, as if by magic, to the star quarterback of the University of Tulsa Fighting Yellow Jackets! Perhaps I’m being a bit hyperbolic, but I ask you: if you took the same blonde darling and plunked her down in a sea of similarly wrought females, would anyone doubt the meaning of that sudden over-spill of emotion and breathless fanning if Justin Bieber suddenly strutted onstage?
SCENE TWO, Hero Worship
Strange, the effects mindless adoration can impose on the senses. Nothing new, of course. Hitler’s rallies included literally thousands of adoring young girls (also mostly blonde), and look at him! Were the Fuhrer around today, such babe-magnetism would almost certainly outshine our president’s, and therefore, I suspect, be a source of gnawing aggravation for the Trumpster. –What’s this little weasel with the funny brush under his snoot got that I don’t got? Hmm. . .maybe it’s the uniform.
Wounded ego notwithstanding, I reckon the chief Nazi would be rather high on the list of dictators Trump has embraced. After all, he retweeted a quote attributed to Mussolini. He seems to have a thing for power-mad lunatics. Nowadays, it’s the likes of Duterte of the Phillipines, el Sissi of Egypt, Turkey’s Erdogan, Brazil’s Bolsonaro, and, of course, the murderous bin Salman, the Saudi Crown Prince. As we’ve seen, Trump usually invites them to the White House, but if they can’t make it, that’s okay, he’ll go to them. He couldn’t get Duterte to come out, so he and Melania jumped a plane and flew to Duterte. It’s that personal touch he craves, the Trump touch. Down and dirty. Bull sessions, a little hand-holding, and a bro-hug for the cameras.
Bin Salman dropped by the White House in the course of his whirlwind tour of the U.S. While there, he and Trump closed a deal for $8 billion worth of arms, the better to assist the Prince in his casual slaughters in Yemen. Death toll–currently around 230,000, with 20 million verging on famine, and thousands dying from Cholera. Business as usual!
The murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi-American dissident and journalist, kind of put a damper on the flood of celebrations honoring the Crown Prince, from New York to Seattle to Hollywood, the deals, the toasts, the general merry-making by Wall St. execs, by the likes of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk; by the cream of Hollywood–Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Rupert Murdock and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Khashoggi’s murder–strangulation and dismemberment with a bone-saw while inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul–was carried out by agents acting under the direction of–who else?–“Prince Charming.” Hm. In the wake of that charming little episode, Oprah–the exemplar of cheerful, high-minded morality–didn’t seem to have much to say. Nor did Bill Gates. Or Morgan Freeman. It was like they all walked outside in the cold light of day only to find that some kill-joy had gone and let the air out of their tires. They took their toys, their balloons, and their little paper hats, and shuffled home.
Since all the revelers were busy whooping it up over the prince, even as his mostly American-made bombs were leveling neighborhoods in Yemen, including schools, mosques and hospitals, it seems odd that anyone should now be startled or vaguely affronted by this one measly murder. Maybe it was the bone-saw that got to them. I mean, children with their arms or their legs blown off by bombs from the air, their homes blasted, their parents and loved ones obliterated–that’s one thing. But a bone-saw! That’s just too personal!
So, now what? The Prince, wanting to bring enlightenment to his country–allowing women to drive, for instance–had also proclaimed that maybe it would be okay to let his subjects go to the movies. To which end, he had made a deal with AMC Entertainment to build 30 movie theaters in his country, topping out at an even 100 by 2030. Then comes this savage butchery, sparking international outcry, causing AMC’s Chief Exec, Adam Aron, to go into deep reflection mode. “It certainly made me think in great depth,” Aron said. . .before going ahead with the deal.
SCENE THREE, The Mel And Donny Show
Trump also got Prime Minister Modi to drop by. The city of Houston staged a mass rally in honor of the Indian despot. Billed as the “Howdy Modi!” event, in keeping with the flavor of Texas, with its iconic images of cows and cowboys, blue bonnets and bullshit, it featured some 400 performers, with Modi and Trump as the opening act. Holding hands, the two of them marched around in the colossal NRG Stadium, looking like a pair of old lovers. The crowd of 50,000 went ape-shit, whooping and cheering. Hell, everybody loves dictators.
As luck would have it, I have a particular connection in the White House, my own “Deep Throat,” whose name I’m not at liberty to divulge, lest that person should land in a heaping, steaming barrel of shit, who just happened to be passing Melania’s bedroom (separate from her husband’s). It was a week after the “Howdy Modi!” in Houston. In the wake of that bizarre spectacle, Modi flew to New York to address the U.N. General Assembly, singling out–what else?–terrorism, as the greatest threat to the world “and all of humanity.” Wherever he goes, it seems everyone just opens their hearts to the cuddly little white-bearded Indian, with his progressive plans to bring affordable healthcare to his people and combat global warming. Meanwhile, back home, his neighbor, Pakistan, responds to Modi’s threats of nuclear holocaust with threats of its own. And in his home country, Muslims were finding themselves under violent attack by mobs inspired by the hateful rhetoric of leaders in Modi’s Hindu nationalist regime. No sooner would he return home from the U.N. than he would begin hammering out a series of draconian laws, aimed at revoking the citizenship of millions of Indian Muslims, including many families who have lived in the country for generations. More mob violence would follow with increasing brutality, often with police participating: the burning of homes, mosques, Muslim businesses, torture, murder, the building of camps, the rounding up of thousands. We’ve seen it all before.
But first, a stop at the White House for one night before his return to India–an unscheduled visit which, for some reason, was not announced to the press.
Time: approximately 1:30 in the morning. Thus, the following was overheard through the door (be aware–Melania’s English is choppy at times. And Trump occasionally mumbles in her presence. My source chose to extrapolate when lines were garbled or if the meaning wasn’t clear.):
MEL: It was just so. . .I don’t know. . .just. . .
DONNY: Just what?
MEL: I don’t know. Weird or something.
DONNY: What are you talkin’ about, honey?
MEL: Is that door locked?
DONNY: You don’t have to lock it, Mel. The Secret Service is right outside.
MEL: I don’t trust them, either. I don’t like the way they look at me.
DONNY: Are you kidding? Every man alive looks at you, unless he’s blind.
MEL: What about that creepy little man, is he still here?
DONNY: What creepy little man?
MEL: The one from India–Moki.
DONNY: His plane leaves tomorrow afternoon. And it’s Modi, honey, get it right.
MEL: Whatever. I just think it’s weird, that’s all.
DONNY: What’s weird?
MEL: You and him–parading in front of all those screaming–what are they–cowboys? Holding hands! My God! What’s with that, anyway?
DONNY: What’s with what?
MEL: These dictators? That’s what he is, isn’t he?
DONNY: I don’t know, what difference does it make?
MEL: It’s like you’re in love or something.
DONNY: It’s called diplomacy, baby. You ever heard of diplomacy?
MEL: Yeah, but holding hands?
DONNY: Whatever it takes, you know?
MEL: I mean, is it because you think they have big dicks, or what?
DONNY: Aw, Christ Jesus, Mel–
MEL: No, really, is that what it is, Donny?
DONNY: I don’t. . .NO! That’s not–God-damn, Mel! Jesus!
MEL: Here, unzip me.
MEL: And don’t get any ideas. You’re going to your room and I’m going straight to bed.
DONNY: Aw, come on, baby–
MEL: No! I’ve got a big day tomorrow. God, my feet are killing me. If we ever get out of here, I’ll never put on heels again.
DONNY: Aw, don’t say that, baby, I love the way you look in heels.
MEL: Whatever you’re thinking, you can forget it.
DONNY: I think the entire Secret Service knows we don’t do anything. They talk about us behind our backs. How do you like that?
MEL: I don’t care what they talk about.
DONNY: I can’t remember the last time we did it.
MEL: I can’t either. I’m trying to forget.
DONNY: Oh, you’re cruel, you are.
MEL (Big sigh): You’ve got your old Hustlers, honey, you can make love to them tonight.
DONNY: What–jack off? Again? Come on, Mel, I’m sick of jacking off. All I do is jack off. Christ, look at that.
MEL: Hm? What? What is it?
DONNY: My hand! Look at it!
MEL: Oooh. What is that?
DONNY: Warts! I’m gettin’ warts on my hand. Just this one! Look–the other one’s fine. See? Clean as a whistle!
MEL: Honey, you should see the doctor for that.
DONNY: See the doctor? Are you kidding me? And tell the whole goddamn world I’ve got warts on my hand–my right hand?
MEL (Laughing): Oh, yeah. I forgot.
DONNY: Yeah, you forgot. Shit. Man can’t even see a doctor without having to broadcast it to the world.
MEL: Maybe your new boyfriend will help you out. I’m sure he won’t mind you waking him up. His plane doesn’t leave right away. You can sleep in.
DONNY: Jeez, always breakin’ my balls. I’m workin’ a deal with him, all right, Mel?
MEL: Oh, sure, right.
DONNY: No, really. I’m trying to sell him some helicopters.
DONNY: Sikorsky Sea Hawks. Real high tech. Worth billions to us.
MEL: Yeah, okay.
DONNY: No, really. You should see these things, honey. They got sensors on ’em you wouldn’t believe. Super sonar. They can find submarines.
MEL: What do they do when they find them?
DONNY (Slight laugh): What do they do. I’ll tell you what they do. They destroy them, that’s what they do!
DONNY: How? With torpedoes!
MEL: They carry torpedoes?
DONNY: Hell, yeah. Torpedoes, Hell-fire missiles. . .Fuckers are loaded, baby. They can do anything. They can land on a dime. I think the Indian’s hot for ’em. That’s why I need you to step up, here, okay?
MEL: Step up? What do you mean, step up?
DONNY: You know. Just. . .be nice, that’s all.
MEL: Be nice? I am nice.
DONNY: Yeah, I know–
MEL: I’m always nice.
DONNY: Of course you are, honey, I’m just sayin’–
MEL: I’m too nice.
DONNY: Just–warm him up a little, okay? That’s all I’m asking. Wear something provocative. Somethin’ low cut. He loves all that shit. And boots, too. He loves those high tops you wear.
MEL: How do you know that?
DONNY: He told me. He likes leather, too. You should hear him talk, Mel. I tell you, that little Indian’s a horny little prick. Perverted, you know? Makes me look like a Sunday school teacher.
MEL: He’s rounding people up, Don, thousands of people.
DONNY: Ah, shit, honey, those are Muslims.
MEL: He’s got a giant police force working for him, night and day.
DONNY: Hey, he’s just protecting his borders, that’s all. What’s wrong with that? I mean he’s got a lot of problems, poor little guy.
MEL: Why don’t you show him your wall?
DONNY: Show him my–? Hey, goddamn, Mel, you know, that’s not a bad idea? Maybe we can teach him something. Yeah. Sell him on the idea. He’s got border problems, too, right? Might make him a deal on cement.
MEL: He doesn’t need a wall, Donny. He just kills them. Or. . .or puts them somewhere.
DONNY: Kills who?
MEL: Muslims, I guess. I. . .I don’t suppose it’s really very many. But at some point, seems like–I don’t know–like it gets out of hand. Like–mass murder or something? Right? What do they call that? Fancy word for it? Liberals use it a lot. Genocide?
DONNY: I wish I had a giant police force. . .
MEL: He’s putting them in concentration camps. Deporting them, torturing them. . .
DONNY: Aw, that’s a load of crap.
MEL: How do you know?
DONNY: ‘Cause I asked him.
MEL: Like hell you did.
DONNY: I did, I swear!
MEL: And you believed him?
DONNY: Sure, why not?
MEL: Don’t lie to me, Donny–I know when you’re lying.
DONNY: Okay, so, what? It’s all fake news, anyway. I’m gonna do something about that, believe me. I’m all over that.
MEL: Yeah? What are you gonna do Donny? Wipe out the press? Oh, I know! Let’s play president and throw away the Constitution!
DONNY: Fuck the Constitution. Who reads that? The UCLA? And who listens to them? Bunch of socialists wasting everybody’s time. That Modi’s got the right idea. I mean, what else is he gonna do? Huh? What would you do? He’s got serious problems, you know? People starving, shit in the streets, undocumenteds running around, like fleas on a mangy dog. Same as I got here. Job thieves, that’s what they are. You gotta save the jobs for your own people. Anybody knows that. It’s common sense.
MEL: No wonder you love him. He got rid of the press. Locked them in jail. Closed the internet, too, I think.
DONNY: The internet?
MEL: I think so. That’s what I heard.
DONNY: Nah, you can’t close the internet. Can you? I mean–well, hey, let’s check it out. Is your laptop on?
MEL: No! Not here! Jesus, honey!
DONNY: Well, where, then?
MEL: In India! Where do you think?
DONNY: Oh! . . . . .Yeah, I see. . . . . .Are you sure?
MEL: That’s what I heard.
DONNY: Well, goddamn, that little bastard. I wonder how he did it. How do you close the internet?
MEL: You can’t do that, Donny.
DONNY: Why not?
MEL: ‘Cause everybody uses it, that’s why. A lot of people rely on it.
DONNY: I don’t know. There’s some very bad stuff on there, Mel. Lot of fakery. Stirring people up. I mean, sure, there’s some good things on there, Alex Jones and a few others. But you gotta control it. There’s not enough control. A lot of Liberal bullshit, there. Very nasty. You’re getting a lot of ideas yourself, honey.
MEL: What are you talking about?
DONNY: Pretty bizarro stuff. Startin’ to sound like Nancy Pelosi.
MEL: DON’T CALL ME THAT! !
MEL: DON’T CALL ME NANCY PELOSI!
DONNY: Okay, okay! Jesus, honey! People can hear you all the way out on Pennsylvania Avenue!
MEL: I’ve told you not to call me that!
DONNY: Okay, already! Jesus! Don’t get all riled up. People are trying to sleep around here.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
MEL: Are we through here, ’cause I want to be alone, now.
DONNY: Yeah, I guess.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
DONNY: Come on, honey, let’s fool around a little.
MEL: No, Donny.
DONNY: Aw, come on.
MEL: No! Get out. Go back to your room. Go play with Modi.
DONNY: God-damnit, I wish you’d stop that. You know, you’re starting to sound just a little jealous, there, Mel.
MEL: Jealous? Oh, Donny, believe me, we’re way past that. We passed that long ago, after you and that–whatever she was–Stormy? Daniels? Really? Porn stars? My God!
DONNY: All right–
MEL: Can’t you do any better?
DONNY: Aw, come on, honey–
MEL: I did my duty, the way God told me–how to be a good wife. The way my mother taught me back home. I stood beside you and smiled for the press–those piranhas–the way Hillary stood by her pig husband and all the other pigs’ wives stand for them, and–and–you know, Barron was watching all that shit on Youtube? You know that, don’t you, Donny?
MEL: Your son, remember him? The fourteen-year-old who lives here? In the White House?
DONNY: I know, I know, God damn, Melly!
MEL: And don’t call me Melly.
DONNY: Why not? You used to like it.
MEL: Well, I don’t like it, now.
DONNY: All right. Jesus! . . . . . . . .What are you doin’, now? Takin’ off your makeup? You used to wear it to bed, remember that, baby?
MEL: You know how old Barron was when all that horrible shit came out? Just-twelve-years old, Don. You remember that?
DONNY: I told you, Mel, that was a bunch of goddamn liberals behind that. I told you!
MEL: Oh, yeah, that’s right–
DONNY: Yeah, goddamnit!
MEL: Is that why you paid off Stormy–to keep her quiet?
DONNY: Come on, Mel, I’m running a campaign. I don’t need some cheap gold-digger running around with her hot-shot New York Jew lawyer–big liberal Jew–stinkin’ up the room with a lot of wild accusations. It’s all part of that–that– “Me Too” jazz. Big money-grab! I mean, look at what they’re doing, honey. They’re going after everybody. It’s a witch hunt. McCarthyism! Harvey Weinstein–great movie producer! Bill Cosby? Come on! A lot of beautiful people, there. It’s a disgrace what they’re doing. And that bitch broke the contract. Broke the NDA! I’m gonna sue her ass. I’ll put Stormy on the street. She won’t be able to buy a Tootsie Roll.
MEL: Yeah, real tough guy. And there was little Barron, my little boy, twelve-years-old, wanted to know what Daddy was doing with a porn star while he was running for President. How do you tell a twelve-year-old his Daddy–running for President–fucks porn stars? Huh? How do you tell him that?
DONNY: Jesus, Mel, keep your voice down!
MEL: Then, all those other whores coming out of the woodwork. Like the floodgates opening or something.
DONNY: I don’t know why you can’t believe me when I tell you something. Just for once, huh? Is that asking too much? One lousy time? Why? Why can’t you do that, Mel?
MEL: ‘Cause you’re a liar, Donny. Nobody believes anything you say.
DONNY: I’m telling you right now, it was a Liberal Goddamn Conspiracy, all right? THE WHOLE GODDAMN THING!
MEL: Okay, get out. I want my bedroom, now.
DONNY: I’ll tell you who they are. You wanna know who they are?
MEL: No, I don’t give a flying shit.
DONNY: Pelosi, for starters. No good whore. Her boyfriend, Chuck Schumer, who jumps up her ass every other day. And–what’s that little Mexican whore’s name? Real nasty piece of work. Ocasio. . . ? And her little buddy, her little side-kick. Ill-Hand! Little smart-mouthed Muslim. Who the hell let this trash in our country, that’s what I want to know. I swear I’m gonna have ’em deported. Shipped out. Whatever it takes.
MEL: Aren’t they members of Congress?
DONNY: I don’t care what they are. I just want to see the look on their faces when ICE puts them on the boat. I’m gonna be there when it happens. Wave bye-bye to them. “Bye-Bye, Girls! Bye-Bye! Have a nice trip! I hope the boat sinks.” I’m tellin’ you, Mel, that whole liberal bunch, they’re still trying to get me for Hillary. Now, you know I’m right about that. Crooked Hillary. Fuckin bitch.
MEL: Quit it, Donny. Don’t talk like that.
DONNY: I whipped her liberal intellectual ass, and they can’t stand it. I HATE LIBERALS! I HATE EVERY GODDAMN ONE OF EM!
DONNY: I’LL SEE EM ALL IN HELL!
MEL: Donny, Donny, stop! STOP IT!
DONNY: What? –What is it–? What?
MEL: Calm down, Donny! My God! Your face is. . .it’s. . red as a–what do they call that–fire truck? You’re gonna have a stroke!
DONNY: No, no, no, I’m fine, I’m fine. . .
MEL: No, you’re not. Look at you. You’re shaking, and you’re–you’re–
DONNY: Oh, shit!
MEL: What is it?
DONNY: I don’t know. I can’t focus. Jesus, I’m. . .I’m seeing two of everything!
MEL: Oh, my God, honey, your eyes are crossed.
DONNY: What? Are you shittin’ me? What’s so funny?
MEL: Go on–look in the mirror–see for yourself.
DONNY: Why are you laughing?
MEL: I don’t know, I can’t help it.
DONNY: I don’t see what’s so fuckin’–Jesus Christ! Look at that. Goddamn, I look like a clown or something.
MEL: You must have blown something when you flipped out.
DONNY: Bullshit. I didn’t flip out.
MEL: I’m calling the doctor.
DONNY: No, no, don’t do that!
MEL: Are you sure? This is serious, Donny.
DONNY: Yeah, yeah. No, I’m. . I’m. . .I’ll be all right.
DONNY: Yeah. I’m. . .I’ll just. . .
MEL: You’ve got a press conference in the morning, don’t you? You can’t face the reporters like that. They’ll laugh you out of the room. And what about Modi? Better not let him see you like that.
DONNY: Oh, shit, no. I won’t be able to sell him a pocketknife. Just. . .give me a minute, all right? Lemme relax a minute, here.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
DONNY: Where’d you get that nighty? Did I give you that?
MEL: Hell, no.
DONNY: You’ve lost some weight, haven’t you, Mel? You’re lookin’ pretty hot, lately.
MEL: Go to bed, Donny.
DONNY: Hey, I know! We’ll go see those helicopters!
DONNY: The Sikorskys! Submarine killers!
MEL: I’m not going to see any helicopter.
DONNY: No, no, just me and the boy! Goddamn, the kid’ll flip out! Yeah! We’ll get in one, take her up for a ride. Make a day of it! Take a sack lunch!
MEL: Can you do that? I don’t think you can do that.
DONNY: Are you kiddin? I’m the Commander-In-Chief. I can do whatever I want. I can nuke China if I want to. I’ll order the pilot to take us somewhere. Go on a maneuver, you know? An Exercise! War games! Just like the big boys! Give the kid a taste of real life. Get him off that goddamn YouTube. I guarantee he’ll forget all about Stormy Daniels. We’ll track something down. Fire off one of those Hellfire Missiles. You can come, too, baby!
MEL: No! No way!
DONNY: Aw, why not? Nice family outing? The three of us? Seriously, Mel, when was the last time we went on a date?
MEL: Are you out of your mind?
DONNY: Come on, Mel. Wouldn’t you like to go up in one of those Sikorskys? How many wives get to do that?
MEL: I’m going to bed, now, Donny. I want to be left alone, so I can read my book. Then, I’m turning out the light.
DONNY: All right, all right. . . . . .Hey, look! My eyes are uncrossed!
DONNY: What’s that you’re reading? Let’s see. The Great Gasby? What’s that?
DONNY: Huh? Jesus, Mel, I hate it when you try to intellectualize. If I wanted somebody with brains, I would’a married Einstein.
MELANIA: Einstein’s dead, honey. Go to bed.
SCENE FIVE, The Apprentice
One can only imagine how a meeting with the Fuhrer might go. It does seem unlikely they could pull off a similar “Howdy Hitler!” event, but you never know what Americans will go for these days. I’m thinking something a little more low-key. Weather permitting, perhaps a quiet little intimate lunch in the Rose Garden, awash in the soothing fragrance of hyacinth and Pink Surprise. Fortunately, the White House chef has been briefed on the Austrian’s vegetarian preference (word is, he’s a little squeamish at the thought of animals being tortured), so his will be Eggs Benedict, minus the Canadian Bacon, served with some very dainty little round new potatoes, lightly roasted. Of course, the secret to the eggs is the Hollandaise, and word is the Chef’s recipe is to die for. (Sorry–no pun intended.) Trump will have his usual: two Big Macs and a generous pile of fries, liberally splattered with ketchup. While waiting to be served, and, unable to think of anything better to talk about, I imagine the two of them compare hair grooming secrets.
Luncheon is served. The two men mostly eat in silence, looking up now and then to grin at each other–a little awkwardly. Trump tries not to stare at the uniform. But, well–go ahead–try not to look at a Nazi uniform! And particularly his uniform! With him in it! So in your face! Donny can’t help it. A stab of envy shoots through his gut. How often as a child, he looked at those pictures–pored over them for hours up in his room: Hitler, addressing a crowd of thousands from a podium so high up, it’s almost in the clouds; there’s Hitler standing in his open car, as it slowly rolls past thousands lining the streets. Look at him smile, as he gives them the old stiff-arm. And just look at them–all so happy and gay! Waving their flags, saluting him back, throwing him kisses, some leaning out their windows, calling out “I love you’s” as the car rolls by. . .
Trump makes a mental note: –We need more parades in this country. We don’t have enough parades! And there it is, Donny’s favorite: the Fuhrer in a relaxed moment with his officers, His Boys!–Goebbels, Goring, Himmler, Borman, Hess–cutting up, laughing so amiably, having the time of their lives, resplendent in their uniforms with their decorations and blood red armbands! How wonderful it must be to belong, to be part of something grand!
Meanwhile, members of the press, seated nearby, can’t help noticing Hitler wincing, as Trump bites into the greasy, dripping red meat of his sandwich, dribbling a pink puddle onto his plate. One press corps member will later write that, “the Fuhrer’s furry little caterpillar kept twitching and jumping around on his upper lip, till it looked for a minute like it was about to jump up his nose.” Trump just flashes a toothy grin, smacking his lips, licking meat juice from his fingers, ala Stanley Kowalski.
They finish. Hitler, with a bowl of stewed fruit and tea served in his favorite Nymphenburg porcelain cup, which he brought along for the occasion, while Trump slurps Diet Coke straight from the can. Rumor has it that before Duterte rejected the President’s invitation to the White House, Trump was hoping his visit might coincide with Hitler’s, in which case, it would now be a threesome sitting down for lunch. Turns out, maybe it’s a good thing he didn’t show. The Philippine president, sometimes referred to as “Duterte Harry,” enjoys talking about butchering criminals and drug addicts, which might not ruffle the Austrian too much, but the wild little smiling Asian also brags of eating his enemies. Yes, you heard correctly. Addressing a group of Filipinos in Laos one time, he threatened to “eat” members of an Islamist militant group that was running loose in his country. “If I have to face them, you know, I can eat humans,” he told an audience that included children. “I will really open up your body. Just give me vinegar and salt, and I will eat you.”
It’s hard to be certain, but somehow, I don’t think dining on the objects of his hatred is something that would have occurred to the Fuhrer as an option, nor to any of his officers, who, as far as I know, apart from collecting their shoes and the gold from their teeth, were sufficiently content to simply gas them and incinerate them. At any rate, a careless remark of that nature brandished over lunch might prove too much for the Fuhrer’s tender stomach, and send him flying from the table. The sight of his idol bringing his eggs up in the Queen Elizabeth Grandiflora Roses might have been too distasteful even for Trump.
It seems to me, once the ice was broken, perhaps the less experienced Donald would seek his more seasoned guest’s advice on how he might get the attendance numbers up at his rallies. While our President has a hard time pulling more than a paltry few thousand in an afternoon, then later handing out some cockamamie blown up fairy-tale numbers to the press, who were there, after all, and could see for themselves, or at least glance at the pictures, Hitler’s rallies went on for days, drawing crowds in the hundreds of thousands. Not only that, but they were loads of fun–real cracker-jack affairs! There were parades and sing-alongs, Wagnerian overtures, human swastika formations, thundering orations by the Fuhrer and other Nazi big shots.
Everybody turned out. Hell, they called off work for it–not like here, where every poor overworked sap’s gotta punch a clock, even on voting days. Ha! “Super Tuesday,” my ass. Long lines at the polling place. . .that’s one thing those Germans didn’t have to put up with. And by the way, I’m pretty sure Mein Fuhrer was never heckled or interrupted by any unwashed, uncouth, protesters wielding “Jewish Lives Matter” signs.
The Hitler Youth–think Boy Scouts!–set up tent towns on the rally grounds, where the more hardy could camp out every night if they wanted to. To hell with work! Watching shirtless blonde boys put on boxing and wrestling displays that sometimes veered into bloody brawls, was way more fun. Those golden-haired Aryan whippersnappers really played it up for the merriment of the Schutzstaffel officers standing around, with lots of fanny-slapping, laughing off broken noses and fractured skulls. Imagine!–eight days of solid family entertainment! Goose-stepping marches, splashy red banners flying from every window, bonfires and spectacular fireworks displays that lit up the night. Compared to that, your average Trump rally hardly qualifies as a rally. More like a yawning afternoon at a Pee Wee League game in Plainville, Kansas.
Still, I think the Fuhrer would have to concede a grudging admiration for Donny’s 4th of July rally at Mount Rushmore. In terms of scale, it’s everything the chief Nazi could desire. An event over-seen by 60-foot tall heads of white guys carved in granite on the face of a mountain. And not just any old mountain. No, this one has special significance. It’s attached to the sacred Black Hills–Paha Sapa, in Lakota. By treaty, it still technically belongs to the first people who lived here. The Fuhrer would be beside himself. He was quite aware of the American extermination of native peoples, citing it as inspiration for his own comparatively modest project of ethnic cleansing of the Jews. Yes, in fact, a close look at the two records reveals a slight imbalance. Compared with the Nazis, with their tally of 6 million Jews and some ten to twelve million others, mostly Soviet civilians and prisoners of war, it appears the project in the Americas was grander, more ambitious, and far more successful. All told, beginning around 1492 with the genocide inflicted by Columbus in Hispaniola, all the way down to 1890–the final massacre of Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee, South Dakota–just over a hundred miles from Mount Rushmore–we arrive at a rough approximation somewhere north of 100-million dead. Giving the Fuhrer the benefit of the doubt, we might conclude that he simply ran out of time.
Oh, look–it’s the Blue Angels soaring over the monument–perfectly timed to coincide with the pink-golden sky of sundown, eliciting a mass exhale of awe from the crowd. And now, for the fireworks! It appears our Donny boy is finally getting the hang of it. And not a minute too soon, with the election just around the corner. Rest assured, there will be more rallies in the next four years. . .
That’s right, friends, the fix is in.
SCENE SIX, The Ravening Beasts
There’s a play by Ionesco about a man who notices one day that people around him are turning into rhinoceroses. No longer capable of intelligent thought or speech, they magically transform from human beings into brutish beasts charging about the streets smashing everything in their path. One of them smushes an old lady’s cat.
The man–Berenger–and his friends are shocked. This is terrible! We can’t allow this! Something must be done!
But then, something curious happens. While Berenger becomes more disconcerted, his friends and coworkers gradually appear to grow more accustomed to the menace now spreading over their village like a virus. Outside his window, we hear the grotesque trumpeting, the smashing, violent destruction of raving beasts, that gradually becomes the “new normal,” and steadily grows in intensity. Indeed, what at first seemed offensive, ugly, violent, now appears almost attractive, beautiful. Perhaps even–necessary. Then, one by one, they, too, succumb to the compulsion, an almost overwhelming urgency, and, at last, even Berenger’s girlfriend, falling into a mindless trance, drifts away and joins the herd, leaving him alone at the end.
Of course, Ionesco was writing about the rise of Fascism and the Nazis before World War II. And what he saw first-hand, what he found most alarming, was the change that occurred in the people around him, his neighbors, even some of his friends. How easily they were caught up in the ideology of a charismatic, fanatical leader, losing themselves in his irrational appeals to hatred and bigotry. What did they lose? Not only their ability to reason and think for themselves, but their capacity to transform hatred into compassion, without which, they soon lost their humanity and became mindless beasts.
Where were we? Ah, yes. Our friend, left alone after his cohorts have gone and joined the herd, whose pounding and crashing even now grow louder and more intense. Yet even as the curtain descends, Berenger refuses to give in to the madness. Determined to remain human to the last, he cries out:
“I WILL NOT CAPITULATE!”