Seán Mon­crieff

Does Don­ald Trump ac­tu­ally ex­ist?

The Irish Times Magazine - - NEWS - See spe­cial Don­ald Trump is­sue of Week­end Re­view

How time swoops by. It was only last year that we could still be ap­palled by Don­ald Trump’s in­vol­un­tary ver­bal spasms. Back in those more in­no­cent times, we as­sumed the global gasps at what he said would mat­ter; that no one could re­ally vote for this kind of thing.

Now, like bad weather and Brexit con­tro­ver­sies, we’ve be­come in­ured to it. There’s vir­tu­ally no one left for him to of­fend. Women, the dis­abled, foot­ball play­ers, Mus­lims, the planet, any­one who isn’t white, any­one who is white with a sense of de­cency: we’ve all had our turn.

And with that, the power of his Twit­ter froth has started to wane. He’s be­come di­min­ished, some­how: which throws up the ques­tion of whether Don­ald Trump ac­tu­ally ex­ists. Yes, there are news re­ports and pic­tures and the daily vomit of tweets, but all of these could be eas­ily man­u­fac­tured. If an­thro­pogenic cli­mate change and evo­lu­tion can be doubted, then why not the pres­i­dent of the United States?

Con­sider this: ac­cord­ing to the Washington Post, ‘ Don­ald Trump’ made 1,145 false and mis­lead­ing claims since he took of­fice. Dur­ing and af­ter his elec­tion cam­paign, he’s made re­peated ref­er­ences to his friend “Jim”: but there is zero ev­i­dence that Jim ex­ists. We haven’t seen tax re­turns, records of his char­i­ta­ble do­na­tions, pass­ports records, med­i­cal records or ev­i­dence of his mil­i­tary de­fer­ments.

‘ Don­ald Trump’ claims he wrote the best- sell­ing Art of the Deal, but he didn’t. It was ghost- writ­ten by Tony Schwartz, who in an in­ter­view with The New Yorker last year de­scribed the difficulty of get­ting his sub­ject to speak about the past:

“He asked Trump to de­scribe his child­hood in de­tail. Af­ter sit­ting for only a few min­utes in his suit and tie, Trump be­came im­pa­tient and ir­ri­ta­ble. He looked fid­gety, Schwartz re­calls, ‘ like a kinder­gart­ner who can’t sit still in a class­room’. Even when Schwartz pressed him, Trump seemed to re­mem­ber al­most noth­ing of his youth, and made it clear that he was bored.”

Trump seemed to re­mem­ber al­most noth­ing of his youth. There’s scant doc­u­men­tary ev­i­dence that ‘ Don­ald Trump’ is the per­son he claims to be. The TrumpBot on Twit­ter blasts out lies on a daily ba­sis. So isn’t it time that we started to con­sider that Don­ald Trump isn’t real? That we, in fact, have made him up?

‘ Don­ald Trump’ is like God, in the Voltaire sense: if he did not ex­ist, it would be nec­es­sary to in­vent him. So that’s what we have done. He is a many- faced cre­ation sprung from our dark­est fears and wildest re­venge fan­tasies. He is a self- made bil­lion­aire, he is a buf­foon, he’ll bring back jobs to the US, he’s en­abling white su­prem­a­cists, he’s goad­ing North Korea and Iran into war, he’s mak­ing Amer­ica great again. He is all of these things and more, but also none of them. None of it comes from in­side ‘ Don­ald Trump’ be­cause there’s noth­ing there.

The cur­rent US pres­i­dent is the re­sult of all our pro­jec­tions, from those look­ing for a dis­rupter of ‘ po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness’ to those who fi­nally have a de­monic bo­gey­man to whom they can af­fix all their loathing.

Al­right, there prob­a­bly is a fleshy in­di­vid­ual sit­ting in his py­ja­mas in the White House who goes by the name Don­ald Trump, but he’s not a per­son in the way we un­der­stand the term: more like a set of switches which only ac­ti­vate if there’s some ex­te­rior stim­uli, and who only ex­ists in the in­cor­po­real world of the me­dia.

So what if that stim­uli was turned off? Maybe that an­cient mammy- wis­dom is true. Maybe if we ig­nore him he’ll go away.

clima“If te change and evo­lu­tion can be doubted, then why not the pres­i­dent of the United States?

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