The Divine Comedy: Bloodlust and Savagery.
Donald J. Trump never wanted the presidency. At heart, he’s just a reality show maven with a fast mouth and a knack for causing fights.
He’s about to become the 45th President of the United States, and we’re all the poorer for it. He never wanted to be president — but he knew he could. As he once said, there were enough “dumb Republicans” to get him elected. The other night, those “dumb Republicans” came out like a red tide. Trump passed the magic 270 barrier with relative ease, winning the electoral college vote (but not the popular vote). No one was more surprised than him. Even his wife must have laughed. But sometimes America can fool you. They like cliffhangers and weird endings.
It was weird, but not unexpected. Nobody close to Hillary Clinton thought she stood a chance. They thought she could win, but that means nothing if nobody trusts you. It wasn’t the private e-mails. It was her paid-for speeches to the banking community, telling them “Things will be all right.” With that, she showed her hand. She was a moneyed politician, cozying up to moneyed Wall Street. Trump knew even “dumb Republicans” caught the drift. Four more years of money finding money. As the saying goes “Water finds its own.”
Trump’s good at baiting people. That’s why the Democrats chose Clinton over Bernie Sanders. Remember Trump saying “Bernie Sanders didn’t stand a chance”? He was absolutely right. Bernie was too emotional, too righteous. Democrats dumped Bernie, figuring Hillary was stone cold. She didn’t rise to Trump’s baiting, but it made her seem even more icy. That’s when Trump set the hook. “Hillary’s a nasty person,” Trump said at the third presidential debate. That’s all he needed to say. After eight years of economic stagnation, icy was the last thing the American public wanted. Trump won by default.
If he came across as a bully, nobody minded. They knew his history. Even back in military school, Trump was a bully. It’s how you get what you want, something Roy Cohen, his mentor, and one time right-hand man to Senator Joseph McCarthy, would tell him. Trump’s bravado was pure Cohen. “If you say it aggressively and loudly enough, it’s the truth,” Peter Frazer, Cohen’s last lover, explained one time. “Donald was certainly Roy’s apprentice.”
Not even Obama, a superb speaker, could diminish Trump’s aura. At the 2016 Correspondent’s Dinner, he tore strips off Trump. Even then, it didn’t matter. Roy Cohen’s apprentice knew enough to sit back. In “The Art of the Deal,” Trump describes the power of waiting, letting your opponent make the first move. Obama made it, and Trump remained calm, if not stoic. Roy Cohen taught him well. In the trials investigating Communist activity, it was always a waiting game. The loudest would be the most guilty. The indignant, the most suspicious. You didn’t need evidence. “Each man carries his own rope,” Voltaire once said, although they were using the guillotine back then.
On The Apprentice, we all witnessed a proving ground for bullies. The loudest of the loud, the flagrant, the manipulators rose to the top. Pierce Morgan played to Trump’s inner beast-like proclivities, acting the part, and winning. Omarosa never won The Apprentice, but Trump liked her style. He brought her back for Celebrity Apprentice and The All-Stars edition, and made her director of African-American outreach for his presidential campaign.
Bullies like bullies, and Omarosa holds Trump right up there. In a Frontline episode, “The Choice 2016,” Omarosa said that “every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.”
Omarosa learned well. She likes evil. She and Trump share a genetic code. On the episodes of The Apprentice when someone refused to bring back two other people, nobody smiled more than Omarosa. “If you don’t bring someone back, I’m firing you,” Trump would say to the contestant. Omarosa loved that. Like in the Roman Coliseum, audiences prefer a forced fight. It plays to their bloodlust, and Omarosa is all for the occasional slaughter.
Trump is one of those rare sociological raconteurs. He likes blood, too. Nobody minded when he said “I’d like to punch that guy in the mouth,” referring to a protester at his rally. There’s always a villain, a pilferer, a sadist, someone who needs to be routed out, destroyed. Build a wall, send back 12 million Mexicans (it was 11 million until he saw himself winning), tear up the trade deals, make America safe and, hopefully, profitable again.
He easily took Indiana, West Virginia, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas and Kentucky. The big grand slam was Ohio and Florida. Numbers don’t even matter anymore. He won the poor states, the disenfranchised, the people nobody thought could rise up and kick the usual political establishment to the curb.
It was a stunning upset considering the New York Times/NBC gave Hillary a three-point advantage right up until Virginia went south. For pundits and pollsters alike, it was too creepy for words.
But Trump is still a joke. Nothing he’s said or done — nothing he’s prepared to do — is anything less than a joke. We get the politicians we deserve. Maybe this is what America deserves. The “most powerful man in the universe” is no less misogynistic or misanthropic than he was sitting in his gold-plated penthouse. He says he’ll leave the White House the way it is. No gold-plating, no monstrous chandeliers. Let’s see if he keeps his promise.
For all intents and purposes, he can do whatever he likes. That’s what it means to be President of the United States. The first four years are yours. Time to rally the troops and do some stomping. As Omarosa predicted, this appears to be his “ultimate revenge.”
Robert Cormack is a freelance copywriter, novelist and blogger. His first novel “You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)” is available online and at most major bookstores. Check out Yucca Publishing or Skyhorse Press for more details (you can also buy from them).