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high desert sketches

by jdgarcia | October 6th, 2016 under Big Bend Blog » Big Bend Blog Highlight

The Donald, past presidents, and Kim Kardashian


Donald Trump channels Kim Kardashian.  (Illustration by VALERIE HOWARD)

Donald Trump channels Kim Kardashian.
(Illustration by VALERIE HOWARD)

One of the keystones of modern column writing is summed up by Mark Twain: “Get your facts straight and distort them at your leisure.” Twain’s concept is behind modern satirical writing. I have often been described as sagacious because of my sage-like prognostications. Satire is intended to distort in a way that causes more clarity and hopefully induces the reader to think about a situation, condition or person in a different light.

Donald Trump is the Kim Kardashian of modern politics. Like hers, his fame is based on fame created with shameless self-promotion. The difference between the two is that Ms. Kardashian’s followers know that there is no “there, there” and revel in her mindless vulgarities. Trump’s followers are “true believers.” These creatures all exhibit a selected and self-induced amnesia. They hear their master proclaim his truths on Monday, deny on Tuesday what he said on Monday and by Wednesday the true believers can’t remember Monday.

Many of Hollywood’s entertainers have claimed to be channeled through past lives. I’m certain the same technique must apply to New York entertainers and at the moment Donald Trump is the biggest entertainer on the block. So, let’s channel him through a few of our past presidents and see what happens.

Trump as George Washington: “Shoot those damned Indians, they can’t even speak English and they act like they own this country.”

Trump as James K. Polk: “You want a war with Mexico? Here’s my plan; our troops push all the Mexicans south to Guatemala, we build a wall and my real estate developer friends will do the rest. And by the way, we make Guatemala pay for the wall.”

Trump as Abraham Lincoln: “Free the slaves!?! Can we talk poor white trash into working for free?”

Trump as Teddy Roosevelt: “Create national parks? How many casinos will fit in a national park? Don’t bother me again, I’m going snipe hunting.”

Trump as Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Create a Social Security safety net for the old!!? I only inherited $50 million and have I ever asked anybody for help? Let them eat cake or snails or whatever those French people eat. The poor are poorer because they want to be poor.”

Trump as Harry Truman: “The buck stops over there.”

Trump as John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for me, and isn’t that Marilyn Monroe over there?”

Trump as Ronald Reagan: “I see a Shining Mansion on the hill and its mine! If the middle class and working poor don’t have mansions it’s their own fault or God’s will, whichever comes first.”

Trump as George H.W.Bush: “Read my lips! No new taxes for the rich, what do you think the middle class and working poor are for, they make great taxpayers.”

Trump as Bill Clinton: “I did not have a sexual relationship with those 89 interns.”

Trump as George W. Bush: “I am the Great Decider and I’ve decided that I and Crown Prince Dick Cheney need Iraqi oil.”

Trump as Barack Obama: “Michelle, have you ever considered dying your hair blond?”

Trump has reached his present status in American politics because of the frustration of millions of Americans who see a greater disparity between the haves and the have nots that has not existed since the Gilded Age of the 1880s-1890s. The middle class and working poor have seen their dreams of a better life fade into economic obscurity. They have seen the past two Congresses described by many historians as the most “do nothing” Congresses in the history of our Republic. However, the people who complain the most and wrap themselves in self-righteous indignation keep sending the same clowns back to Clown Town on the Potomac.

Satirical writers are seldom neutral on any social or political issue. I do not intend to channel Hillary Clinton because I remember what happened to Sleeping Beauty. However, I will admit that for the past several years, I have stated that I believe that Hillary Clinton is Richard Nixon in drag.

George A. Covington has worked in the fields of law, education, journalism and disability rights. He considers himself retired from every one of them with the possible exception of journalism. He is a graduate of the University of Texas schools of journalism and law. He moved to West Texas – Alpine – in 1997 after a 20-year career in Washington, D.C. where he once served on the staff of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (Democrat) and shortly thereafter served as Special Assistant to the Vice President of the United States (Republican) 1989-93.

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One Response to “high desert sketches”

  1. Ascension says:

    As for the arts of satire and column writing, this piece might demonstrate a common high-school mistake. Viewing other people whom we don’t really know, as groups rather than distinct individuals (in this case “trump supporters” imagined to be blind followers of their “master”) thus setting up the voodoo doll to poke snarky pins into, is not exactly elevated satirical art. Satire falls flat when it misses the kernels of truth.

    It seems to me that Trump supporters are not so easily defined by economic status at all, but by political disgust at the parties and elitists of DC, including the media that supports and protects them. You will find that the populist vote is mostly a revolution aimed at the ballot box, one that cries out, “Please! Throw those bums out!”

    Hillary is one of the bums, and yes she is one those “same clowns” it seems the voters want to send back. Trump is a clown too but a different kind, and this piece would lump in with the rest. That’s a miss-characterization; there is no kernel there. He hasn’t had his hands on the political wheels of power.

    You know, in Twain’s day there was little to read amongst the common folk, and so newspapers filled that void. Not so today. The internet and this “Information Revolution” have turned the tables. Info is everywhere. Satirical method now suffers, because by its very nature it touches only a limited audience, one that is either un-knowledgeable, un-sober, bored, or agrees with the speaker’s limited bias. In Twain’s day as in ours, the satirical performance usually worked best when accompanied with alcohol and boredom and lack of entertainment competition. Not great recommendations toward elevated inquiry.

    No, costumed criticisms disguised as “artful” satire in today’s newspapers is way out of fashion. In this world of high-speed internet, boredom is harder to find, and those limited audiences shrink even further. Satire is really just a high calling to low comedy. Today, It will be required to reach beyond bowling-alley commonality, especially since it lacks both the beer and the pretzels.

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