By David Sherman
What if pollsters and pundits are right and Trump loses? He won’t go quietly into that good night, as George “Shrub” Bush had the grace to do. He’ll go kicking and screaming, venting on Fox until he’s behind bars or goes the way of all mortals, or both, a Trump quinella – and we’ll finally be free of him.
No more orange man in peroxide-tainted hair, looking like the Pillsbury dough boy in red tie and burger paunch, sucking up the oxygen.
No more worrying the missiles will launch, unless he decides to start a nuclear dustup with his North Korean lover, Kim, as a pre-election appetizer.
No more hallucinatory diatribes, tweets of a twit or battalions of fact-checkers.
Pandemic or no, life might return to a semblance of normal. U.S. malfeasance will not clutter every newspaper headline, every TV news story, every conversation, every waking moment. But … what then?
What will they write about? There has been no news but Trump news for four years plus. Everything else has been a sidebar. We’ve been inhaling TV and computer hours and column inches of what Trump said and what Trump did for more than four years, the former exponentially larger than the latter.
We’ll be living the pandemic and probably will for years. But we’ll endure, we’ll qvetch, we’ll accept. It is not a metastasizing or prohibited topic when you’re with friends, appropriately socially distanced, of course.
A friend goes BEEP if anyone brings up ailments associated with aging. He prefers to talk about his dog. The rest of us, in vain, set the ground rules through our masks as we sit down, “No Trump talk,” a prohibition that lasts five minutes. Inevitably, tales spew of the soon-to-be-former president and his covey of spineless enablers who never read Faust or saw The Damn Yankees. Do they read anything?
In Faust, selling his soul earned him endless knowledge. In Damn Yankees, the protagonist gets a shot at Lola and plays outfield for the Yankees.
Serving up your soul and spine to Trumpism not only taints you with “Trump Stink,” it demands you embrace ignorance, endure ridicule and, if justice is served, prison and/or unemployment.
But I digress. Trump has built Fox News and might continue his absurdities there, as long as ratings don’t tank and he doesn't end up in the tank. But we won’t be obliged to watch the bleached brains that spent their waking hours with their heads up the presidential posterior.
What will CNN and CNBC do? The New York Times and the Washington Post? New Yorker and Atlantic? What will the battalion of late-night comics like Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel et al do for material? Will anything be funny anymore after years of Trump lunacy?
That Trump! What a barrel of laughs. Negligent homicide of tens of thousands is a riot. If he didn’t let you die of Covid, he deregulated Americans to death. Or encouraged police to shoot first and hide body cam footage later. Yeah, the guy was a gas.
Roger Cohen in the New York Times attributed the Trumpsession to the “shrinking of the American mind … One of the characteristics of a nightmare is that it is all-consuming. Everything beyond it fades into the murk. President Trump, in an extraordinary sustained broadcast of his self-obsession, has managed to corral the world into the shadow of an orange colossus.”
Kind of like a giant pumpkin.
What or who can possibly replace the man who would be king as a butt of late-night humour?
Talk-show writers, having spent a chunk of their careers poking fun at the dough boy, will scramble to find comparable humour. Asian giant hornets? Opiate addiction? Despoiled waterways? Cancer? Mitch McConnell?
Considering the shape the world is in, the post-Trump era might be devoid of anything approaching humour.
No, we won’t have him to kick around anymore but he will live on in the blizzard of post-Trump dissection and the resurgence of the guys in camo gear hanging on to their AK-47s.
But, what will long-term relationships have for dinner-table discourse?
“Hear from the kids?”
“What’s the latest from the White House?”
“Haven’t a clue. But your mother says she misses us.”
“I have a mother?”
Effects on jobs and businesses will be disastrous. Antacid production will fall along with acid reflux. Bars will have more barstools than drinkers, dispirited distillers will excessively imbibe their own spirits, dope dealers may have to find a job and painkiller and tranquilizer production will tumble.
Wall builders will go bankrupt and insider traders and other donor-class buddies will discover playing fair is nowhere near as fun. Big Pharma won’t have their bottom lines buttressed by taxpayer billions for snake oil and Big Oil will no longer have carte blanche to drill anywhere. Now you’ll know just what that persistent toothache was about.
And, who will Vlad Putin have to toy with?
Maybe, just maybe, we’ll read more. Our blood pressure will stabilize. We might take time to smell the roses, our obsession with the insanity suffered by our neighbours to the south a memory that we’ll be able to laugh at without cringing, like recollections of a long-gone senile uncle.
“You’re not some kind of crazy uncle,” a TV interviewer told him. Wanna bet?
There will be no Trump library to visit, since he neither reads nor writes and all documents of interest will have White House paper shredders grinding 24/7, beginning the second week in November.
But there will be a library of books about him to flip through, should you miss the good old days.
Yes, the years of Trump will be gone but not forgotten. He sure was a hoot.