For roughly two weeks, President Donald Trump deferred his madness, perhaps out of respect for the destructive force of two colossal hurricanes. Now that these dual catastrophes are receding into the past with massive humanitarian and cleanup efforts still to come, the Mad King is back to being the nation’s most unstable and potentially destructive threat, despite what we’ve been led to believe about White House chief of staff John Kelly’s efforts to contain him.
Along those lines, it’s important to remind ourselves that even though Kelly has cloaked the president in a political straitjacket, there are myriad reasons why Trump needs a straitjacket in the first place -- despite the inexplicable latitude offered by reporters like The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and his attempts at normalization, Trump is still the same unpredictable monster he’s always been.
On Sunday, the monster got loose again.
It’s almost as if the tranquilizers began to wear off -- tranquilizers that inspired Trump to miraculously cut two deals with the Democratic congressional leadership while at least apparently backpedaling on his pledge to withdraw from the Paris climate accords. You can almost see him breaking out of his restraints and reaching for his beloved phone, sirens blaring throughout the White House, then furiously tweeting all varieties of insanity in a firestorm of rage against the world while his handlers desperately attempt to pin him down again.
Among other tweets, Trump patted himself on the back for donating to hurricane relief efforts; retweeted a map of the United States with all the states colored red as a warning to liberals for 2020 (Trump is delusional to think his presidency will survive to 2020, much less win all 50 states); retweeted a cartoon of himself pulling a raft loaded down with items like a box of coal, Oreos and, weirdly, a Carrier factory; tweeted that he spoke to South Korean President Moon Jae-in of South Korea (during which conversation he apparently exercised his foreign affairs prowess by referring to Kim Jong-un as “Rocket Man”); and thanked a random and creepy Lana Del Rey fan for tweeting “we love and support Donald Trump.”
The worst of the litter was a retweet of an anonymous troll profanely named Fuctupmind. Admittedly, that’s a pretty normal handle for Twitter, but an abnormal handle for the president of the United States to circulate online. So much for the “family values” party. Nevertheless, the original tweet by Fuctupmind featured an animated GIF of Trump hitting a golf ball, followed by a cut to a video of Hillary Clinton boarding an airplane only to be hit in the back with Trump’s golf ball, knocking her off her feet.
Obviously, the president thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to tweet sexist memes in which he’s depicted as violently assaulting a woman. How masculine. How alpha. How hilarious. How disgusting, embarrassing and completely warped. It’s not difficult to imagine a cowardly troll tweeting a GIF like that, but the president ought to be held to a galactically higher standard than the anonymous psychonauts who lurk in the lightless, subterranean sewers of Twitter and Facebook.
With Clinton’s book, “What Happened,” debuting at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list -- a book that features quite a bit of news about the impact of the Russian attack against the election, as well as Trump’s possible participation as an enemy combatant in that attack -- it’s plain that Trump is feeling a little bit hurt about the whole thing. And the only way he can respond is to lash out with the internet’s version of punching an uppity woman in the face.
Make no mistake, that’s what this is. It’s Trump’s way of physically assaulting a woman who received 3 million more votes than he did and is presently stepping on his thunder to tell her side of the story, rather than sailing off into the distant realms of political and pop culture obscurity. This is Trump joining the pile-on of weak, easily threatened men who can’t stand it when strong women refuse to capitulate to the rickety Jenga puzzle that is the ego of too many members of the He-Man Woman Haters Club. So the most reasonable response the president can muster is to make-believe that he nailed Clinton in the back with his mighty golf swing.
It’s the perfect companion piece to Trump’s unacceptable behavior during the 2016 debates, in which he interrupted, accosted and lurked behind Hillary through three televised encounters. Despite what he might say now, Trump lost all three of those debates, based on non-Trump standards for debate performance. Unfortunately, we’ve stepped outside the confines of our former political reality into a skewed timeline in which a confessed sexual predator and inarticulate monster with the backing of a hostile foreign government is an acceptable choice for the White House.
We exist in an era when the unforgivable behavior of this monster, including his potential triggering of a nuclear war and his even more confounding Nazi sympathies, is given chance after chance after chance. In a sane world, the American people would rise up and surround the White House, driving the Mad King from office for just one of these infractions -- Republicans and Democrats alike. In an age of informality and colloquial language, we’ve abandoned our standards for presidential behavior when it comes to this one man. Everyone else, especially Hillary Clinton, is still held to the old standards of behavior. It’s just Trump who gets to act like a maniac, with the tacit endorsement of too many Americans who’ve chosen to reject decency, morality and the dignity of the office.
So here we are again, wondering what it’ll take to shake us out of our torpor. The upside is this: As long as the monster is loose, he’s much more likely to undermine his own presidency, further burying himself in legal and political jeopardy. The sexism and obnoxiousness are baked into the mix with the social media blurts and piss-poor, self-incriminating decisions that continue to drive Trump closer and closer to being indicted for his growing roster of crimes. Fingers crossed that he doesn’t screw the rest of us too badly while spontaneously screwing himself.