Gore Vidal once said that the three saddest words in the English language were Joyce Carol Oates. “President Hillary Clinton” would have dislodged the exophthalmic novelist from that epigram, but as for “President Donald Trump”… the jury is not only still out, the crime hasn’t even been committed yet, despite the drama queens caterwauling on the campuses.
(For 13 years college snots sat on their lazy asses while the U.S. government waged immoral and unconstitutional wars, but now they take to the streets because the candidate of the proles defeated the candidate of the 1 percent? Gimme a break!)
I voted for Jill Stein on foreign-policy grounds. Gary Johnson was unsound on the mandatory cake-baking issue, and as for his running mate, the only good Weld is Tuesday.
I walked to the polling place with someone quite dear to me. She, too, intended to vote for Stein, but about halfway there she halted, as if thunderstruck, grinned, and said, “To hell with it; I’m voting for Trump to stick it to the media.” That’s the spirit!
After getting liquored up at the Republican election-night party—a friend was elected county judge—Lucine and I came home and watched the returns into the wee hours, with a wine-brightened giddiness. As a prepubescent populist I cried when Hubert Humphrey lost in 1968, but this time around I fairly howled with delight at the Tom Dempsey boot in the face my neighbors delivered to the corporate media, Wall Street, Big Education, and the entertainment industry.
I don’t see localists getting much from Trump, beyond the possible appointment of a federalist—small-f, please—Supreme Court justice or two and a calling off of the nationalized restroom dogs.
The hysteria over the triumph of the deplorables has obscured the fact that Donald Trump is and has long been a moderate Republican of the industrial Northeast, the sort you might have found representing Pennsylvania or New Jersey in Congress in the 1980s: protectionist, a booster of public works and internal improvements, and indifferent to social issues. He parts ways with this ho-hum tradition in his immigration restrictionism, assertive nationalism, and occasionally pacific impulses.
I started keeping a file on Trump back in 1987, when he first dipped his toe into presidential waters. His primary political interests then were 1) high tariffs; 2) making NATO allies pay more for their own defense, which was called “burden-sharing”; and 3) reducing tensions with the Soviet Union.
You don’t have to hold with the Emersonian dictum about hobgoblins and a foolish consistency to see that Trump has been remarkably consistent—a lot more so than Hillary, whose earlier incarnations included Goldwater Girl and admirer of the New Left libertarian Carl Oglesby, whose indictments of corporate liberalism adumbrated the monster into which his Wellesley fan-girl would mature.
Around the time of the Bush-Cheney invasion of Iraq, I told a Republican friend that by the year 2025 the U.S. would bomb or invade a Muslim country with a casus belli of the denial of gay rights. Had Hillary won, I believe that prophecy would have missed by seven or eight years and a couple of thousand miles, as the indispensable nation’s armed forces would have gone to war with Russia on some flimsy pretext—say, Putin dropping from his Spotify playlist the music of those punk poseurs in Pussy Riot. (Who are about as punk as Adam Ant.) Boorishness is a small price to pay for forestalling World War III.
At the very least, we’re getting our first witty president since Kennedy, though one doubts that Jackie would find Trump all that funny. (JFK, on the other hand, would find Melania … intriguing.) Did Obama, Clinton, or either Bush ever make an intentionally funny crack? Could any of them elicit more than a charity laugh?
Gore Vidal once told me that Hillary Clinton was, to his astonishment, kind of witty in private. Not witty on the level of New York Post headlines about Anthony Weiner, mind you, but, well, funnier than Madeleine Albright. I trust Bill has been enjoying her bons mots since the morning of November 9.
This interregnal moment is pregnant with possibilities, though the parturitive result could be anything from It’s Alive to It’s a Wonderful (or at least Tolerable) Life. As I write, the Cabinet is not yet stocked, though the rumored vials of arsenic outnumber the cups of nectar. If, when you read this, the hawks and lobbyists have eclipsed the Main Streeters and America Firsters, then I’ll just say a word of thanks to Trump for defoliating the Bushes and demitting the Clintons and suffer no more paroxysms of political optimism.