Despite several previous posts, many in the mainstream press continue to focus on the President’s gaucherie. Sad! His populist style is not the best point of attack; it’s not practicable, since this is his armor. He looks good in the eyes of quite a few Americans when he looks like a straight-talker. The center will hold onto Trump when he’s an Andrew Jackson: a rough-cut hero whose “so-called” atrocities evidence his resistance to Washington’s refinement, otherwise known as “bureaucracy.” For a shrinking but no doubt sizable population, his nominations from the private sector are what “draining the swamp” is supposed to look like. Plus, hey, he’s a New Yorker. We like ‘em rough around the edges. We’ve been giving New York cabbies, thugs, cops, and corporate raiders a pass on rudeness since at least Maggie, A Girl of the Streets (Stephen Crane, 1893). Furthermore, these critiques of style implicitly seek to reform the spectacle, without tackling the more dangerous and abhorrent nature of his populist logic.
Trump’s brutality isn’t personal. He doesn’t deserve credit for his vulgarity. His world view emanates from the small but robust and well-situated culture: the eighties playboy. This subculture, nurtured by magazines, movies (not all of them porn), and daytime TV, continues to be the forest for trees in coverage of Trump’s foolishness. His attitude or demeanor, his projection / rejection of personal space (from pussy grabs to ugly bro handshakes), belongs to a macho subculture that thrived in the late 80s, early 90s. As the this video [WATCH BEFORE CONTINUING], from 1993, makes clear, this strained, uncomfortably jocular, overheated form of masculinity was a direct response to the AIDS crises, a celebrity-news backlash to Act Up.
The performance of true feeling exhibited here is painful in several ways. Trump performs his part poorly. The whole subject is embarrassingly handled, played for the cheapest of thrills. No one seems to know what they’re doing. The appropriate words escape them, so they thrive on innuendo. This style is ideological; it performs a macho world-view that continues to organize the Donald’s perception / response. Two phrases seem particularly salient today:
Trump: I don’t know. I tend to like beautiful women more than I like unattractive women. Maybe that makes me bad . . .
Mullet-headed Dick Interviewer: Join the club!
What’s Trump’s key-card here? How has he joined the club? The password’s not hard: women are beautiful or unattractive; sovereign feeling is the source of judgment. Trump knows it when he sees it. His access to the club is granted when he confesses this password: a public intimacy that responds to a crisis in confidence a few American men thought they were facing in the 80s, stuck between “gay-cancer” and “pus([s]h)y broads.” The logic of Trump’s responsivity is beautifully travestied by SNL when they send him to the original reality TV, The People’s Court. This sensibility belongs to the CDC (Celebrity Dick Culture) of the period when Trump, Arturo Ui fashion, began his rise.
Today, this logic dictates Trump’s response to court rulings on the short-lived immigration ban. He likes any judge whose rulings are attractive, and finds the rest “so-called” and “political,” i.e., “bad” or unattractive. Short-lived personal attraction actually forms the basis for a so-called “personality” here. It’s what I like, what I don’t like, that founds, like a cheap cement pile, the girders of his “reasoning.” This form of idiocy is not endemic to men. We find it also in rat creatures.
A second, equally pernicious phrase occurs a minute later in the interview:
Trump: AIDS, AIDS, can I tell you what?
MDI: AIDS attacks everyone.
Trump: AIDS is a disaster. It attacks everybody, and who knows.
The interview gets more gross and stupid, but I’m struck by this early use of “disaster.” Trump’s wall, his bans, his “extreme vetting” are condoms, it turns out. Trump views “threats / others” hygienically. This explains the attraction between him and the far right, for whom “cleansing” is also a national project. He wants to fuck (over) a clean nation. The border wall is a diaphragm, which is why he thinks it appropriate that our southern (as in under) partner pay for it. Extreme vetting is an AIDS test, free at airports near you.
This is what a puncture in an inflated public figure looks like. A slow motion disaster, only it’s not so slow for those hit by the falling infrastructure.