(Artwork by Stephen Byrne)
Whenever I compare Donald Trump to a cartoon supervillain, it's usually because he blurts things like this: "Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don't know what to do. Love!"
Love! Yeah, it's blurts like this -- and, of course, the garish costume -- that make me think of a poorly-animated, herky-jerky Legion of Doom villain from the old Super Friends TV series.
This isn't by any means intended to downplay the threat by making Trump seem like feckless, bungling cartoon character. Not at all, in fact. This is simply who Trump is. And his presidency will be accompanied by a series of unforced disasters, not precipitated by unpredictable outside forces, but instead wrought by his own whimsy and complete absence of the presidential quality. He's not even bothering to carefully package his terrifying agenda of hard-right policy goals and kneejerk ideas -- ideas we have no way of forecasting -- with a positive message intended to unite rather than divide. (Reagan was good at this.) Instead, Trump has chosen the paranoid Nixon approach: segregating his loyalists from his "many enemies" who will surely pay the price for exercising their First Amendment rights.
One of the many things that will surely drive many of us to excessive alcohol consumption during the next four years isn't just his supervillain pronouncements and erratic behavior but how the political press as well as American voters will react to it all.
For example, about the political press, we should probably brace ourselves for how the usual suspects on cable news, Fox News especially, will react to Trump's alleged revelations regarding the hacking of the election -- to be revealed either "Tuesday or Wednesday," according to Trump himself who announced he has more information on the hacking of the DNC and John Podesta's email. The intensely frustrating aspect of his announcement will either manifest itself in, 1) a bait-and-switch scam not unlike his non-apology apology about the birth certificate thing, which turned into a PR event for one of Trump's hideous monstrosities, or 2) the press could end up adopting Trump's information about the hacking as the official explanation, while relegating the Russia angle to the conspiracy theory X-file.
I'm counting on the latter as the upshot from the hacking story this week, especially given how the political press doesn't know how to cover the story, and given the aggressive backlash from Trump's online goon squads and the question of access to the Trump White House. And, of course, no one wants to be forced out of the press loop, or the next hacking target. For Trump, it's a convenient position to be in, with the press silently blackmailed into submission by the bullying and threats from the Trump/Putin alliance -- the Joker and Harvey Two-Face of the day.
Additionally frustrating is how voters narrowly shoehorned this third-world strongman into office only to gradually abandon him once they realize the colossal scale of their Election Day fuck-up. Don't expect Trump voters to take responsibility for injecting this berserker-in-chief into the Oval Office. They'll blame Obama or congressional Democrats while quietly telling pollsters they disapprove of Trump's leadership.
To wit: a new Gallup poll shows Trump lagging far behind previous presidents in literally every category, and that includes the nincompoopery of George W. Bush, who, given Trump's existence, appears way more qualified now than he did in 2001.
According to the traditional rules of politics, these numbers would normally handcuff Trump's ability to govern, as if losing the popular vote by three million wasn't crippling enough. Then again, nothing is normal any more. Practically since November 8, Trump's been telling audiences that his victory was both record-shattering and a mandate for his agenda. Neither assessment is true, but it doesn't matter any more. If popular support meant something, the GOP would take more seriously the numbers showing 86 percent support for Obamacare among those who get their insurance through the law. Of course they'll probably mislabel it as "fake news" and, instead, cherrypick whatever horrendous falsehoods are being ejaculated all over Fox News and AM talk radio.
Ultimately, the left can't sit around waiting for a progressive hero to swoop down and rescue us from Trump's despotism. The left has no choice but to flood the streets, effectively blocking -- perhaps physically -- Trump and the congressional Republicans from doing business. Make it impossible for cable news or Russian Twitter trolls to skew the debate on artificial terms and Trumpian bullshit. Clog the phone lines, block entrances, surround the White House, downplay nothing -- hell, form coalitions with anti-Trump Republicans. Whatever it takes. The alternative is to wait for the press or wayward Trump voters to magically turn against the Republican majority. That'll never happen without extreme, unrelenting pressure. Donald Trump is a villain in both words and deeds. We have to be the superheroes who defeat him.