The Return of P. T. Barnum

The Republicans have actually done it, nominating someone even more bizarre than Lyin’ Ted, the evangelical Crusader given to endless attacks of piety and hoping to send the U.S. to the fourteenth century with all its accompanying witch burnings and other entertainments. Lyin’ Ted may yet prove to be the Republicans’ Lyndon Larouche, and, like Larouche, he will probably run again, and again, and again, bloviating about the Apocalypse if the electorate fails to heed his jeremiads hurled at Beelzebub and other Democrats. But for now, Lyin’ Ted slinks back to his Senate lair, mumbling about how he has been out-lied by the very best.

So The Donald is their boy, whose accusations of Lyin’ Ted’s lies, given his own, raise irony to fine art. Donnie himself lies only when his lips move. But when Crusader Cruz threw in the bloody towel, Donnie Boy lapsed into a kumbayah moment, which is to say that he did not call him Lyin’ Ted for once and said that he ran a “great campaign” and had a “great future”—all of which proves that the anti-politician Trump is a politician to the core. Apparently The Blonde One thinks that a campaign of lies is a great campaign and the basis of a great future. Meanwhile poor old Kasich, who managed to display some sense and integrity as all the poisoned darts flew through the air during the extended Republican circus, was the last opponent still standing on wobbly knees, but he too then keeled over in the face of the Trumpanista onslaught. The Dear Leader then entertained us with a triumphal, alleged foreign policy speech. Its incoherence bore all the stigmata of Trump’s own fiction-filled, love-me-because-I’m-God orations, but the tell-tale use of big words like “rudderless” and “disarray” and the failure to repeat his punch lines twice in a row testified to hidden authorship. Trump salivated at the thought of taking Ohio from Crooked Hillary by naming Ohioan Kasich as his veep, but the vanquished governor concluded that an embrace of the low-vocabulary, grammatically challenged, monomaniacal, National Enquirer devotee would be a bigly mistake. Damned bigly mistake. Rumors have circulated that Donnie is now thinking of appointing himself as his veep, but the Trump camp avers that no decision has yet been made.

Besides reading the National Enquirer for the news of the day, Donnie has been consulting the P. T. Barnum Scriptures for campaign advice on the subject of suckers, and it has paid off yuge. He has bamboozled vast swaths of the American electorate, which perhaps might not be all that hard, but you would think that some of them who consider themselves hard-nosed realists might see through the fantasy of heaven in America when he becomes president: with a wave of his hand, heaven will descend to the heartland, and walls will be built and paid for by Mexico, ISIS will renounce violence and embrace brotherly love, all trade deals will be re-negotiated to our advantage just because he says so, the military will be great again, all jobs will come back, the national debt will evaporate in eight years, all eleven million illegal immigrants will just pack up and leave, and every little girl will have a pony. Admittedly some of the Trump loyalists who account themselves realists have questioned the pony issue, specifically arguing that Muslim girls shouldn’t get one. Meanwhile back here on earth the sociologists have blitzed the staid, peer-reviewed academic gazettes with scores of their enlightened lucubrations on the subjects of mesmerism and mass delirium.

Or do the swooning masses actually know he’s just a huckster, but a huckster is what they want? On this point ol’ P. T. may have anticipated The Donald back in 1855: “The public appears to be amused even when they are conscious of being deceived.” As a purely psychological study, whole armies of professors will be required not only to ascertain the degree of credulousness of the Trumpanistas, but also to delve into the question of whether Donnie is just playing the Barnum card or his Messiah complex is so galactic in scope that he actually believes his own fantastic confections. It was reported by the National Enquirer that Trump called God and told Him that it was a good thing He wasn’t in the primaries and to keep the throne warm for him when he becomes president, known in Trumpland as the Second Coming. There was some skepticism about this story from the majority of losers in the journalism trade, or at least that part of the reporting where God said “yes sir,” but the Trumpanistas proclaimed it gospel, right up there with “Two” Corinthians.

There have been a few sniffish comments or attitudes about Huckster Don being the Republican nominee, including a few from the last two Republican nominees McCain and Romney, the last two Republican presidents Bush Sr. and Jr., and the current speaker of the House Ryan, not to mention almost all the lesser fauna of the official Republican confederacy. However, these Establishment views are all to the good for The Donald’s flock, who see those folk as just more losers to be left behind when the Rapture comes. The Establishment fears a break-up of the Party, with the crazies scurrying over to Huckster Don’s new Know Nothing Party, leaving the comparatively sane remains of the GOP impotent. They also fear that Donnie will cause destruction on the down ballot, with possible loss of the Senate and maybe even the House. At that point, current Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell will be hanged in effigy, or worse, for failing to call for a vote on moderate Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland when he had the chance. Abetted by Faux News and Rush Limbaugh and other assorted gasbags and circus barkers, the GOP has in fact long been drifting toward the right wing fringe, but reports of its demise may be greatly exaggerated.

Still, the party has reason for concern. Numerous professional and academic organizations have joined the Trump bandwagon and started thumping the drums. These include the Global Cooling National Front, the John Muir Clear-Cut Logging Federation, the American Phrenological Association, the Men’s Temperance and Anti-Evolution Coalition, the Society of Biblical Inerrantists, the North American Organization of Alien Abductees, The International League of Clairvoyants and Mind Readers, the Southern Scientology Society, the Four Humours Medical Association, the Midwestern Academy of Fantasists, and the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the American Slavery Denial League. These are organizations not to be trifled with, several of which boast a number of congressmen and senators among their memberships, especially the Global Cooling National Front. With the collective intellectual gravitas of these and other hotbeds of cerebral ferment in his camp, Trump’s full assault on the White House is ignored at the nation’s peril. Fellow megalomaniac Kim Jung Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea tweeted Donnie a congratulatory note on his nomination, joshing The Blonde One that in his country primaries and elections were unnecessary fluff since all you had to do was put words like “democratic,” “people’s,” and “Republic” in the name of the country to insure that the starving masses stand supreme. Kim also noted that he and Donnie had so much in common, including weird hairdos, itchy nuclear trigger fingers, a touchiness about criticism, zero political experience, self-idolatry, a penchant for fair ladies, and the joys of seeing their names and pictures everywhere. Donnie tweeted back: “Thanks, Kimbo. You’re an inspiration! Lunch?”

But unlike His Rotundancy, Trump still has the inconvenient burden of an election. You might think that women wouldn’t like him, blacks wouldn’t like him, the disabled wouldn’t like him, Hispanics wouldn’t like him, grammarians wouldn’t like him, POWs wouldn’t like him, immigrants wouldn’t like him, barbers wouldn’t like him, people making minimum wage wouldn’t like him, liberals wouldn’t like him, evangelical conservatives wouldn’t like him, and folks who know simplistic and blustering ignorance when they see it wouldn’t like him. But hey, this is America, waiting to be made great again by a magisterial wave of the Dear Leader’s dear hand. And, as ol’ P. T. also said, “there’s a sucker born every minute.”

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1 Comment

  1. Ed Wheat said,

    August 15, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    Hi John, I was thinking about PT Barnum and the Trump candidacy a couple of days ago. I enjoyed your commentary.

    Ed Wheat


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