The joke that is Donald Trump.
Since Donald J Trump announced last May that he was running for President of the USA, there has barely been a news bulletin, newspaper, social media feed or late-night show that hasn’t mentioned, quoted or played footage of him blowing his own Trumpet. The media initially saw him as a blessing – a quotable carnival sideshow that allowed US campaign coverage to kick into top gear 18 months out without anything having to be taken too seriously. His initial statements were met with laughter. According to Trump, Mexican immigrants to the US were largely made up of rapists and drug dealers and he would prevent them entering the US by building a ludicrously “yuge” wall. How would he fund it? He would make Mexico pay for it. How? Simply by being Donald J Trump, the world’s greatest dealmaker. Hilarious. Tweet-worthy. The ravings of a village idiot with a megaphone. Just the thing to feed the global electronic news beast. His name started to register in polls of Republican voters and pundits finally had something to talk about. Conversations about him usually ended with the phrase ‘there’s NO WAY he’ll win, but it’s going to be fun’. At the time of writing, Trump is still the frontrunner to become the Republican nominee. The nature of presidential primaries means by the time this ink is dry he may have crashed and burned. But as Trump has gone from clown to contender, people have been forced to listen to what he has to say and consider what the world would be like with him as POTUS. Regardless of what fate the primaries bring, after a year when Trump became a politician, America and its democracy will never be the same again. Let’s be clear, he is an inappropriate choice for President and would be utterly disastrous as Commander in Chief of the world’s largest army and nuclear arsenal. That’s not just my opinion. I spoke to a Republican campaign manager who said that his greatest fear was Trump would be their nominee and a scandal would force Hillary Clinton out of the race. That’s a hardened political hack terrified his side might win an election. Still laughing? Godwin’s Law – a rhetorical principle made trendy thanks to the internet’s unique ability to cultivate pointless argument – basically states that once you mention Hitler in an argument, you’ve lost. It has made people reticent to compare anything to the rise of fascist Germany. It’s also made it hard for people to say what they really think about what happens at Trump gatherings. When two Muslim Americans attended a Trump town hall rally wearing yellow stars and tried to participate in the discussion about his plan to ban all Muslims entering the US, he turned the crowd against them and had them forcibly removed. And he’s done the same for African-american protesters and anyone who speaks up against him. What does this say about those who support him? What does it say of modern America itself? Bound by Godwin’s Law, the commentariat must trudge on, finding yet more banal ways of saying Trump is a rude bozo who wouldn’t be good at the job. They do so with diminishing returns and anything they say is far less interesting than the verbal diarrhoea with which Trump expresses America’s political id. The only people who are cutting through are comedians. Stephen Colbert and others have never had more to work with. Good comedians have never been too concerned with political correctness, they’re only worried about making the audience laugh and the best way to get a laugh is by speaking the truth. They may not be politically correct, but they succeed most when they are correct politically. Next to comparing people to Hitler, quoting Mark Twain can be one of writing’s most fraught exercises. Inevitably, whenever I’m within the vague postcode of having an astute thought on matters political, I can be sure Mark Twain has had it before me, more succinctly and with a better punchline. Anyway, ’ole Mr Twain once wrote, ‘Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand’. The moment the powerful become a punchline, their potency dissipates. And as much as we should, and must, rail against Trump’s ideas, we must never stop laughing at his idiocies – whatever his legacy, whether he has blown it or still holds his chance. In the end, the laughter will drown out the cheers. n
“THE MOMENT THE POWERFUL BECOME A PUNCHLINE, THEIR POTENCY DISSIPATES.”