Chronicle of Our Republic’s Death Foretold

We still miss it so.

When Spy magazine first published its fateful description of Donald Trump as a “short-fingered vulgarian” thirty years ago — thirty years ago! — Trump reacted in the most Trumpian way possible: He said he knew people who knew things, and Spy would fold within a year.

Leading Spy to respond in the most Spy way possible: A monthly sidebar quoting Trump’s prediction and counting down the days, headlined “Chronicle of Our Death Foretold”.

The year ran out, nothing happened, and Spy ran a final sidebar predicting Trump’s death. And that was that.

Only it wasn’t.

Ever since, including just last year, Spy cofounder and phrasemaker Graydon Carter would receive special deliveries from Trump: Magazine photos of The Donald. “On all of them,” Carter writes, “he has circled his hand in gold Sharpie in a valiant effort to highlight the length of his fingers.”

His fingers. No complaints about “vulgarian”, which shouldn’t surprise you, coming from a guy who uses gold Sharpies.

It’s easy, in seeing Trump as the Raging Id of White Resentment, to forget how fragile his ego is, how thin the skin that wraps those stubby appendages. And the trick to getting under that skin is ridiculously simple.

Humiliate him.

Spy was, at heart and on the cover, “The New York Monthly”, a clever magazine for clever Manhattanites. If the Village Voice had used the phrase, Trump may well have ignored it, but people he knew read Spy (and were also skewered by it), so there was no avoiding the insult, and the implied humiliation — a subtext made text only months ago by Marco Rubio. The insult snuck through Trump’s defenses, and landed. Hard.

Much like the insults delivered to Trump’s face five years ago by The Preznident of These United States. Trump sat in the audience for the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner, known in retrospect as The One Where We Got Bin Laden, but it also capped a week where Obama’s long-form birth certificate was released. (Trump knew people in Hawaii who knew different, but we never heard from them.) The evening remains one of Obama’s better Nerd Prom outings, notable for Trump being humiliated by constant comparisons to how firing Gary Busey on TV is much harder than the decisions a President has to make.

Really. Watch it again. It’s even more entertaining this time around.

Especially after watching Hillary’s Trump-bashing speech, which we’ve been insistently told is the best of her campaign. And which, we’re sorry to say, may be the case. Hillary speeches set a low bar for other Hillary speeches.

The speech comes off, at best, like a Strongly Worded Editorial: Things that need to be said, but not said very well. We could only get through it by imagining Bubba delivering it instead, with a bit more humor, a few winks, an underlying insinuation that you’ve got to be kidding me.

You know. Humiliating the guy.

Hillary has been living in national public life for twenty-five years. If she hasn’t learned how to deliver a speech by now, she never will.

Which, for present purposes, may not matter. Because we’re also being told — also insistently — that this one got to Trump, that he was off his game Thursday night, that he hasn’t punched back like he usually does.

You’ll forgive our suspicion of Creeping Wish Fulfillment in such analyses, just as everyone used to be sure that every Outrageous Trump Statement was the one that would bring him down, all the way up to him winning the nomination. We all want Trump to fail so hard, it’s blurring our vision, of him and his supporters.

But still: We know it’s possible to get under Trump’s skin, and really mess with his head. And if Hillary’s speech achieves that result — even if it’s otherwise forgettable — more power to her.

But we remain five months from the general election, and it’s way too soon to declare that Hillary has discovered how to slay the dragon. Leave the Fan Fiction to Bill Kristol.

13 comments:

2:33 am • Saturday • June 4, 2016

Hear hear.

5:53 am • Saturday • June 4, 2016

‘And the Trumpites Shall Lead’

Trump the Gorgan (originally played by Melvin Belli) took a while for the adults to fight as the first group of adults (and that’s a quite a stretch considering the hapless/pathetic GOPer gang of 15 primary opponents and the GOPer establishment) that tried to take it on died horribly.

The kids (Trumpite morans) rampaged through the Enterprise aka US Amercia till Spock and Kirk (Hilsbot?) figured it out.

Trump/Gorgan being the raging Narcissist will make it so easy.

Hilsbot did well this week. I agree with you that she’s got more work ahead of her, but it is a start. What makes Hilsbot even more dangerous to the Gorgan than Graydon and others who tweaked him is that she has the lady bits (‘allegedly’–according to a famous Spy Cover.)

Being humiliated by a lady makes the Gorgan go absolutely batshit (see Rosie O’Donnell.) If she keeps it up then she can make the Gorgan alienate an overwhelming percentage of female voters. Combine them with the “others” that the Gorgan has already alienated then the Gorgan will lose bad.

Gorgan Trump was almost unbeatable in the GOPer primaries because the vast majority of voters were white angry low information males. He owned them like Trump Steaks. Like the stereotypical US Amercian diet, he needs more than just relying on shitty fatty gristle steaks.

6:59 am • Saturday • June 4, 2016

@ManchuCandidate: DEATH TO YOU ALL.

But you’re right: Hillary being a Girl and all adds an Emasculation Factor to any humiliation, as demonstrated by Megyn Kelly, who unnerved Trump to the point that he held that fake Vets event rather than attend a Fox debate.

Didn’t stop him, and she ultimately spectacularly caved, but nobody could stop Trump from the Right, since he was doing what the rest of them did, only much better.

In that respect, there’s plenty of time to just constantly needle Trump and create a slow-motion trainwreck. Give that approach a month and see what happens.

9:58 am • Saturday • June 4, 2016

Definitely the best speech she’s given during the campaign, no question.

I see two problems:

1) Voters also don’t want her making foreign policy decisions based on her disastrous record, which fueled the rise of both Obama and Sanders.

2) Voters of all political persuasions, especially independents, repeatedly have expressed that they want more isolationist policies on everything from trade agreements to military commitments.

Clinton is offering a bitter pill of more of the same to those voters. That’s a high-risk strategy in a year in which voters all over the board are in open rebellion against the status quo.

9:59 am • Saturday • June 4, 2016

I saw a photo of a bumpersticker online today that read “Giant Meteor 2016: Just end it already!” Yep, that sums up this election perfectly.

4:43 pm • Saturday • June 4, 2016

Just remembered the punchline. That last Spy sidebar “predicted” Trump’s death using actuarial tables for a man his age.

The headline? “Death Be Not Short-Fingered”.

8:53 pm • Saturday • June 4, 2016

Mike Judge & Etan Cohen, co-writers of Idiocracy are teaming up to create a series of anti-short-fingered vulgarian ads

1:31 pm • Sunday • June 5, 2016

Someone pointed out that as soon as Hillary said that Trump was probably tweeting about this right now, the tweets stopped. Interesting ….

2:03 pm • Sunday • June 5, 2016

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/06/the-mind-of-donald-trump/480771/

Who, really, is Donald Trump? What’s behind the actor’s mask? I can discern little more than narcissistic motivations and a complementary personal narrative about winning at any cost. It is as if Trump has invested so much of himself in developing and refining his socially dominant role that he has nothing left over to create a meaningful story for his life, or for the nation. It is always Donald Trump playing Donald Trump, fighting to win, but never knowing why.

4:40 pm • Sunday • June 5, 2016

It’s all just so depressing. The big question in this election is “will our livers survive?”

9:18 pm • Tuesday • June 7, 2016

Only the FBI can save us now.

11:15 pm • Tuesday • June 7, 2016

@nojo: I started reading online issues of Spy (well, truncated ones), and what hit me was that there were print ads. At first I thought the ads were part of some larger joke. And I was high.

11:24 pm • Tuesday • June 7, 2016

@JNOV: As it turned out, not enough of them.

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