We’ve misunderstood Donald Trump all along. Instead of expecting a visionary like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a builder like Dwight Eisenhower, a great communicator like Ronald Reagan or a president willing to face down our foes like John F. Kennedy, we should have recognized that this president has a more unique gift. He’s an entertainer.
Instead of Roosevelt, Eisenhower, et al, we should be comparing Trump to President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho. You remember President Camacho, America’s leader in the prophetic 2006 movie “Idiocracy.” Camacho won office as a showboating big-time wrestler who cruised in a massive three-wheel, flag-bedecked motorcycle offering double-barrel, single-finger salutes to his fans. They loved it.
Like Trump, his very name was a product placement. And there are more similarities – wrestling prowess, attention span, IQ, impossible promises and, uh, taste.
Like Camacho, Trump has a customized motorcycle (with a 24-karat gold T). He stays in garishly decorated hotels (which he owns) and flies in planes with gold-plated toilet handles. Camacho stressed his physique; Trump stresses his coif. Both prefer simple pleasures: Camacho guzzling beer, Trump dunking everything in ketchup. And both emphasize something important to the American people. Entertainment!
That’s why President Trump lives on social media, insulting world leaders and retweeting videos of himself bashing “CNN” over the head with a chair. And those crazy things he says about White House tapes, solar walls and inauguration crowd counts – what a riot!
There’s drama, too. What could be more engrossing than trying to keep track of how many connections his employees and appointees have to Russia? It’s better than watching Game of Thrones or a Law & Order marathon.
Lately, he’s caused us to visit the History Channel. We were convinced George W. Bush was an awful president, having driven our economy off a cliff in 2008. Now, Bush looks positively presidential.
President Camacho was fictional; President Trump is all too real. And his performance is anything but funny. Not when an irrational enemy has a nuclear missile capable of reaching our soil. Not when Trump has pushed away our allies while embracing a gallery of global thugs (Vladimir Putin, Recep Erdogan and Rodrigo Duterte).
Through his insults, inability to tell the truth and ignorance of history, Trump is turning America into, well, an Idiocracy.
We’d like to join in on the joke, but this is far too dangerous. Most Republicans know it and a few are even willing to speak out – Lindsey Graham, Ben Sasse, John McCain. The rest, unfortunately, are too weak-kneed or self-interested.
Put Jeff Denham on that list. He has doubled down on his bro-ship with Trump, echoing Trump’s childish name-calling by saying The Bee is “fake news” and wishing for our demise. When asked about the First Amendment during his constituent conference call (which he pretends is a real “town hall”), Denham did it again.
Unlike Denham, most of America is beginning to see Trump for what he is – a man trying to act like what he thinks a president should be.
Just because we’ve come to better understand President Trump’s act, doesn’t mean we’re entertained by it. We don’t expect him to become a Reagan or a Kennedy overnight, but we cannot afford for him to be a Camacho. The threats to America are all too real; our president shouldn’t be one of them.