For years I’ve thought the title of this piece was the only line from Oliver Stone’s otherwise magnificent film Nixon that sounded like it had been written by a Hollywood liberal who simply couldn’t get past the fact that old Tricky Dicky had ever been elected in the first place.
Now I know that it was simply a moment out of time, one that belonged in a different movie about a different President, the film that will be made one day, after the current nightmare is over, about the 45th incumbent of the Oval Office.
Donald Trump’s swearing in is a calamity for the entire world, but as surely as anything it’s a calamity for Donald Trump.
Like an incontinent, he’s destined to spray shit all over himself whether he likes it or not. He’s the scorpion stabbing the frog who’s ferrying him across the river, drowning them both. It’s nothing he can do anything about; it’s in his nature.
Trump takes office with the lowest opinion poll ratings ever “enjoyed” by a President elect. And as anyone who’s ever sat in that office can tell him, the numbers only go one way from there and it ain’t upwards. He did not win the popular vote. He is despised within his own party, which will tolerate him because he has what it wants … a straight tap into the hearts and minds of the very people their policies will hurt most, and who he swore to look out for.
He takes office mired in scandal before he’s even done a day’s work. Impeachment is already a grim possibility, looming ahead of him like a mugger in an alleyway. (A white guy, in a Brooks Brothers outfit, with a briefcase in one gold-cladded hand; America’s real criminal class, right there.)
Five government agencies are already investigating claims that he is in the employ – not the favoured candidate of, but owned by – a foreign power.
Conflicts of interest stalk him.
His conduct during the campaign and since reveals a man who cannot take the slightest criticism, who’s egotistical, a bigot, a misogynist, a racist and a climate change denier who believes every crackpot conspiracy theory ever spun.
His key allies are the writers and radio freaks of the alt-right, the people who thought Sarah Palin was a powerhouse of ideas and vision and not a semi-coherent embarrassment who was more suited to calendar girl photoshoots and gunning down elk with an automatic rifle from the back of a helicopter.
Oh yes, and he comes with the proud endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan.
If he had just been made a state governor or a senator I would be rather blasé about what I witnessed today, but the Village Idiot now has his stinky fingers on the nuclear launch-codes. He is backed by an army of halfwits who believe their country was stolen by elites and that a guy who named a building after himself and installed a gold elevator in it for his personal use is the one to take it back. His international allies include Nigel Farage, a guy who reinforces every prejudice I have about slippery bastards from the City of London dressed in good suits and who’s smug face you would never get tired hitting with a razor-wire baseball bat.
It’s like America got half of its citizens together and picked the one person who best represented the stupidest, most bigoted, most dysfunctional and deranged traits amongst them, ran him for President and got him elected.
I listened to some of his voters today, and if they believe half of the bullshit that was coming out of their mouths – and which flowed so easily from his – then I have a bridge to sell the lot of them. One owner. Good condition. No comebacks.
I’ll even paint “Make America Great Again” on it if they want. In white, naturally.
I am, of course, being flippant.
Because it feels like that’s what’s required today, a day in which great shame has fallen upon America, when the pitter-patter of clown feet can now be heard in every corner of the West Wing. Breibart race-baiters really will have Presidential speech writing jobs. Donald Trump’s idiot children really will play roles in his administration. His wife really will take over the office just vacated by Michelle Obama, an inspirational role model to millions of people of all colours, sexes and creeds across the world.
This is actually happening.
It wasn’t a nightmare or a hallucination spawned by drinking a can of lager so old the sell-by date had worn out on it.
And I can only be flippant about it, in a world where so many seem to think that this is what positive change looks like.
Actually, this is what the world looks like from the user’s side of a bad acid trip.
Those people are standing inside a room, watching us through the window as we run around madly outside, gesticulating wildly, acting the fool.
But what they don’t appear to realise is that we’re out here looking at them, standing in a burning building, and trying to warn them to get the fuck out of it, but knowing they can’t hear us through the thick glass.
And it will fall down on their heads, and we will take no satisfaction from that at all.
Particularly as I harbour the suspicion that we, the sane, the rational, the scared shitless, are the ones the next pack of lying bastards is going to ride to power on the back of blaming for the mess that is absolutely guaranteed to come from today’s fiascotic shambles.
I’m honestly scared of what this guy might do, and no checks and balances are going to stop him.
I’m also unpleasantly aware that this is a great thrill at the same time, like finding a box of live grenades on the same day you discover your girlfriend is cheating on you, and you know where the bastard lives. There’s anticipation, almost eagerness, to see where the road takes us all next. To watch this unfold, in all its gory glory. There’s a definite attraction to knowing I’ll be able to cover every last dip and swerve of the rollercoaster ride.
I heard Bill Maher being interviewed a few weeks ago and the guy asked him if, as a comedian whose bread and butter is in covering this stuff, he was excited about the next four years and how they were “going to be great for guys like you.”
“Yeah,” Maher said, deadpan as you like. “If we’re alive …”
I got the distinct impression he was only half joking, and that dread is catching and it’s awfully hard to shake.
After all, a guy who can’t seem to help himself from responding, on Twitter, to every barb and blow he receives in the press isn’t someone you want to send into negotiations with a well-armed foreign government that might already wish us ill.
What if his counterpart across the table suggests a dick-measuring contest and The Donald doesn’t win?
Yes, I’m being flippant, but fuck it. What other emotion is appropriate?
Despair? To Hell with that.
This requires a better response than hiding under the bed for four years.
Anger? Been there, seen it, done it. I feel like that’s been my default position for every ignorant, selfish decision the voters have made these last three years.
Nor is this the time for saying “Well, he’s been elected, let’s give the man a chance …”
Trump is 70, okay? Life-changing self-analysis is well behind and beyond his abilities.
This is who he is. So as he ran, so too will he govern and we should stop kidding on that everything will turn out alright.
It won’t. It’s fucked up and will certainly get worse before it gets better. America has elected a sexual deviant, sectarian man-child to the highest office in the world. It has put in his hands a nuclear arsenal, the apparatus of the most powerful state there is, an intelligence gathering network of awesome, unbelievable power and given him a bully pulpit from which to spread bigotry, fear and hate across the wide expanse of the world.
And he gets to change the direction of the US Supreme Court.
I’d rather not wait for him to get started on all that, on the deportations and water-boarding and illegal detentions and the persecution before I call him a total bastard.
I’d rather get into early, and mark the cards from the off.
This is where we are. It’s a disaster, okay? Pure and simple. And only by facing up to what it is can we fortify ourselves for what’s coming. It won’t be enough, not nearly enough, but it’s a start, and from behind these barricades we can start to fight back.
There are no atheists in foxholes.
So say a prayer, and pick yourselves up.
Four long years of struggle, all across the world, starts now.
For the sake of the kids, we had better be on the winning side of it.
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The picture of Trump that appears here was taken by Mr Pink – AKA Brian Anderson.