Sometimes I miss the good old days when Donald Trump could be shocking.
It’s really hard to imagine something he could say now that would throw us for a loop. You probably heard that on Veterans Day he celebrated the men and women who’ve fought for American democracy by promising to “root out” his liberal opponents. Otherwise known as “the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.”
Now, would you say he was making a threat — or just trying to show off his vocabulary? Don’t know if any other president has called people he disagreed with “vermin.” Maybe Warren Harding? Nah, Warren was actually a very nice guy. Perhaps Franklin Pierce after a few too many cocktails.
And have you noticed that Trump seems obsessed with the threat of communism? Why do you think that is?
A. Serious analysis of political ideologies in the 21st century.
B. Old girlfriend warned him.
C. Probably watched “I Led 3 Lives” while growing up in the 1950s.
I’m gonna go with C, just so I can tell you that “I Led 3 Lives” was a very popular TV show back then, based on the life of Herbert Philbrick, who spent nine years pretending to be an average citizen while working as “a high-level member of the Communist Party and a counterspy for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
It’s also a nice reminder that Trump is almost as old as Joe Biden.
“I Led 3 Lives” really did hike up the nation’s neuroticism about communism: In one episode Herb saved the nation from a subversive plot to convert vacuum cleaners into missile launchers.
Some of Trump’s own plans for future governance really do sound like a terrible cable TV knockoff. For example, he’s devised a scenario in which he wins next year, goes back to the White House and then commits some of the top Biden Justice Department officials to … mental institutions.
Don’t know if Americans even saw anything that shocking on 1950s TV. Of course, we don’t think of our mental health system the way D.J.T. seems to. He recently predicted that officials like Jack Smith, the special counsel investigating him on several fronts, would be diagnosed as “suffering from a horrible disease, TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME (TDS!)” and “in a Mental Institution by the time my next term as President is successfully completed.”
Does this sound like a threat to you? Also, honestly, if we came to think of Trump Derangement Syndrome as a mental health problem, who do you think would be the first person diagnosed?
Always tough trying to figure out when to denounce our past-and-possibly-future president’s rantings and when to just ignore him. Ignoring would certainly bother him more. But there are some things it’s hard to overlook.
For example, his campaign recently expanded on the T.D.S. scenario, with a spokesman warning that when Trump is re-elected, people like Smith wouldn’t just get committed to a mental hospital: “Their entire existence will be crushed.”
Sounds sorta major-league threatening, doesn’t it? Well, you’ll be happy to know that the spokesman clarified that he was referring only to Trump’s enemies’ “sad miserable existence” and not ending “their entire existence.”
I hope that makes everything perfectly clear.
We’ve been talking about all the folks who’ve been denounced recently by the ex-president. Perhaps you’re wondering who Trump really likes. Well, there’s Dana White, the head of a very popular company producing mixed martial arts shows. Trump recently suggested that White would make a great secretary of defense. And he went with him to a match in Madison Square Garden. (“Upon setting foot in the arena,” Team Trump reported, Donald was “met with an outpouring of love.”) Don’t know if he’s heard that White is sponsoring a huge show in Las Vegas next year celebrating Mexican Independence Day.
But most definitely, Trump is a fan of President Xi Jinping of China. (“There’s nobody in Hollywood that can play the role of President Xi — the look, the strength, the voice,” he declared in that Veterans Day speech.)
Hmm. Another quickie. President Xi’s main job is:
A. Marketing a board game called I’ll Take Taiwan.
B. TV host of “The Beijing Apprentice.”
C. General secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.
Yeah, there are apparently some communists Trump finds … endearing.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been seeing a lot of Trump in a New York City courtroom, where he’s charged with sort of, uh, making up the estimates of his wealth.
“Racist A.G. Letitia James is smirking all day long from her seat in Court,” Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social. This is a reference to the attorney general of New York, who is Black. And an opportunity for me to mention that Truth Social has lost $73 million since its founding in 2022. Just saying.
In New York, neither Trump nor his kids would admit to having any specific idea of what was going on with the family investments. Really, they’ve got way more important things to think about.
Still to come, the legal proceedings in Georgia, where officials are looking into his efforts to overturn the results of the last presidential election in that state.
And last week, a federal judge rejected Trump’s lawyers’ argument that the trial for one of his many pending charges — mishandling classified documents at Mar-a-Lago — should be postponed immediately because he has to get ready for other criminal trials coming up in New York and Washington.
What do you say, people? Worst former president ever? Let’s just hope it stays that way.
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