So much has been written of the current President that it feels almost a work of uselessness to sprinkle one’s grains on the ash pile. And yet, to a degree unmatched by his recent predecessors, Mr. Trump makes one feel both compelled to speak and, at the same time, exhausted by the thought of doing so. I’ve wondered what it would have been like to live under the regimes of, say, Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong-il, and the Trump administration provides a measure of insight into an important psychological aspect of authoritarianism. That aspect is the inescapability of the Dear Leader, the tendency of the regime to smother and exhaust its critics and their faculties. This raises the question of whether or not the President will succeed in his evident work of discrediting and confounding his critics, including those within the state who function in a constitutional capacity as a check and balance. Assuming the Trumpists do prevail, what might the world look like? That is the topic of this essay.
Mr. Venti Cappuccino, Chairman of the House Diabolical Mustachio Committee, has pulled it off. He has rendered the Office of Official Optimism toothless and ineffectual, having placed it under the auspices of the House Committee for Keeping It Secret.
As we saw in an earlier instalment, the episode with Ozymandias has left our hero in a state of unrest. The orange menace paces his realm of marble-and-gold as his mind searches for an outlet through which the pent-up emotions might soar. Soon, so soon, he will have the resources of the world’s most powerful nation at his disposal. Yes, in only days his hands will be upon the levers. For now, however, he must settle on less grand arrangements.
The sun rises over the city of Geld. “Thank-you, Damien Crusher,” says the President-elect. “Thank-you for once again causing the sun to rise over your tremendous city.”
Today, it rains. Today I must go out. When I say I must go out, I mean to say that the choice to go out is not mine, or not mine alone, for there are external forces which compel me to rise from my bed and to venture into the world, against my will. My will! How absurd it sounds when I put it that way, as if I had a definite will and not rather a velleity. And against this will, this velleity, the many forces, some external but others perhaps not. Forces, that is precisely the word. And external, also the precise word. For everyone understands what is meant by a force, and also by an external. Were it not for these, I would stay in today, as I would stay in every day, if left to my own devices.
It’s not a merry Christmas for the orange menace. He finds neither rest nor peace in the holiday. In the night, Mr. Crusher is visited by three spirits. The first is the Ghost of Presidents Past, Mr. John F. Kennedy.
Gather around, children, gather around. That’s right, at my feet, like good patriotic Americans. Kids, don’t sit on the Louis XIV chairs, made of the best 24k gold, okay? Sit here on the marble floor, which my servants will have an easier time sanitizing after you’re gone, which hopefully will be soon. I am kidding, just kidding … well, sort of kidding. You know satire, right? It’s when you’re sort of kidding, but also sort of serious, but also you really mean it but you don’t. You can tell satire, right? I hope so, but most people can’t, even adults can’t. Even adults who read this website, in many cases.
Should I rise from my bed or should I remain in my bed? This is the first question I face, each and every day. Yes, each and every day I must decide, before all else, whether to get out of my bed or whether to not get out of my bed. This is how I go about it.
The evening of the party is like every other evening. They sit around the numberless tables in a vast well-lit space. It is a sea of humanity shrinking into the horizon. Ten are seated at each table. There is no theme to the evening, no thread that ties them. Some are dressed as for a formal occasion, but most are not. Each table is draped in white linen.
Mr. and Mrs. Fashism ride the enormous circuit of the 89 towards the Patriot Bureau. En route they debark at the Olde Tyme Shop, leaving the box store some hours later with plastic bags of gold plated trinketry.
The color of my brand is gold, tremendous 24k gold. You know when you see the gold of my brand that my brand is rich, so it is powerful, so it is number one and nothing and no one is above or even equal to my brand. My brand is the ultimate, the best, the winner. Whenever it is written, it is written in large letters, the largest letters, the large 24k gold of the winner who is above all else. No name shall be bigger. If there is another name, the name of my brand shall be the largest name, in fact it shall be the largest of all the words, of all the other words that are near. No other name shall surpass the name of my brand, ever.
The orange menace knots his power tie. When finished he looks down to inspect the result. Its tip grazes a knee, sways and grazes the other knee, and so on back and forth between his knees, just as the tip of a perfectly deployed tie ought. He tapes the tie-tail, rendered too short to reach the keeper loop, firmly into place. Then he inspects himself in the full-length mirror. He likes what he sees. The orange menace grins, and a relief of orange putty, the shape of a walnut, forms on the pediment atop his scrofulous lappet.
On a beautiful day such as today, when the sun cheers the bright winter sky, I will generally go outside. Today however I am staying inside. Whether to go out or stay in used to be a difficult decision, until I realized that the outside and the inside are the same, that whatever differences there may be, they are of no consequence. Perhaps tomorrow I will go out, or perhaps tomorrow I will stay in. I will regret my decision, either way, as I always regret my decision, whether I stay inside or I go outside.
They call me Betty but that is not my name. It’s one of the things they call me. There are many things that they call me but these things are only words. Words do not have literal meaning. That is a mistake made by the media—taking our words literally. When we use words it is the spirit of the words that matter not the literal meaning of the words. Everyone has a spirit of the word in his own head and that is the meaning for that person, or a meaning that is true for that person, which makes it true, just as my name is not Betty but people call me that, although I don’t recognize it as my name. I deny that my name is Betty. Betty is a word and a word is a sound in the mind. I am not Betty.
I make a nice cup of tea, which is what one does in the evening. I am sitting in my favourite chair, which is what one does when drinking a nice cup of tea in the evening. Mr Crusher does not drink tea, nor does he drink coffee. On many things we agree, but the taking of a nice cup of tea in the evening, sitting in one’s favourite chair, is not among them. I mention this for its narrative utility, human interest being the fuel of a story, but also because tea time is when I talk to the President-elect. My tea time, not his. He does something else when we talk in the evening, whatever it happens to be. I have never asked, and he has never told. I have my theories.