Don’t two fables form the weak backbone of Donald Trump’s presidential jihad?
Der Trump’s war against America borrows heavily from The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Scorpion and the Frog.
Unlike the first’s titled character, it is the Der Trump’s social media minions and the florid barking attendees at his rallies who are exposed. If the narcissus’ crusade actually holds any rational calculations, these only seem hell-bent on discovering the depths to which the candidate can drive his slanders. Dim enlightenment among his followers won’t occur until even the most convinced clod supporting him finally comprehends this fraud’s derangement has now also become their delusion.
In the initial fable by Hans Christian Andersen, an absolute ruler has cowed his subjects so none may dare contradict him. Therefore, he’s lived a lifetime hearing the most outlandish blandishments possible.
Understanding their liege’s susceptibility, two tailors exploit the monarch’s vanity. Both tickle the royal’s interest by offering to cut him a garment woven from material invisible to nitwits and dolts.
In fact only those of intelligence equal to his seeing him dressed in such amazing fashion will be suitably astounded.
Again, a vain man as he is, the emperor can’t resist. He orders the tailors to begin fashioning the apparel. After several “fittings,” the emperor is ready to display the most discriminating men’s wear ever. He leaves the tailors’ shop and peacocks this fabulous fashion before his subjects.
Indeed, his subjects are astonished. In their eyes their monarch stands before them stark naked. Yet none possess the courage to state the obvious. Instead choruses of compliments further swell the emperor’s head.
But his playhouse crumbles. The ruse and the monarch are exposed when the least among his subjects, a child not so much fearless as knowing nothing of adult culpability and collusion, guilelessly reveals what’s plain to see.
That snaps the emperor’s hold on his subjects. A deluge of derision starts, properly humbling him.
In Der Trump’s reworking of Andersen’s tale, it will be his supporters who will earn just ridicule. Thin-skinned as he is, the faker himself is somehow immune to the effects of scorn. He’s capable of mockery and ladling it like it’s going out of style. So bloated with disdain and conceit, Mr. Free Association has also armored himself against empathy or humility or doubt.
His piglets, however, are for the most part made of more human stuff. Scratch them, they’ll squeal. Like the fairytale’s blueblood, they will not remain numb to the truth once it slaps them.
Grant Trump this: as a crude megaphone which stirs lower-class Anglo resentment he has done an excellent job compelling them to demonstrate the worst of America. In the backs of their muddled minds, even the angriest irrational Trump supporter must be aware that their odious and loathsome champion is reducing them to grunting, low-slouching caricatures whose strings are being jerked by a reprehensible puppet master.
Of course since they’ve willingly gone so far along with this charade there is no redeeming reversal ahead. There is no way out. They can only continue to allow this phony to sucker them into feeling good. It sure beats the truth.
The Scorpion and the Frog, the second fable Der Trump twists, just illustrates how even veteran political operatives can mislead themselves.
For months those professing themselves wise Republican Party heads have proclaimed that once the primaries ended and the electoral cycle enters its crucial phase, Der Trump would shelve his carny barker behavior and assume the gravitas and mantle of an accountable statesman. That the GOP’s standard-bearer would persuade America he’s fit for the august office he seeks.
Crucial phase reached, Der Trump hasn’t taken one step towards his less orange makeover. He’s done nothing to temper his petulance, his pettiness, nor even his cruelty. Any Republican poobah believing the short-fingered vulgarian capable of morphing from tabloid dumpster fire into respectable candidate needs recalling the Scorpion and Frog pairing.
The best part of this story? It doesn’t issue from Ovid or elsewhere in antiquity. I would’ve thought this parable had classic roots. Instead, it’s celluloid conjuring from an Orson Welles movie, Mr. Arkadin.
Welles’ story has the scorpion waiting on a riverbank, wanting to cross to the opposite shore. He sees a frog and beseeches it to ferry him across. The frog is wary because, after all, the predator is well known for its venomous stinger and predilection to use it.
The scorpion insists the frog put his mind at ease. That should he sting the frog both will drown. Mollified, the frog agrees to transport the scorpion.
Halfway across the stream the frog feels the scorpion’s sting pierce his back. He starts flailing and losing consciousness.
Aghast, the frog demands to know why the scorpion stung him. “Now we’ll both die!”
“I know,” the scorpion replies sadly, “but I can’t fight my nature.”
Any Republican believing Der Trump can defy his nature, namely display discretion, behave in a circumspect manner, and practice discipline is dreaming.
The moral of this post is in Der Trump the GOP got what it asked for. From him the party will now get who it deserves.