“Trump is a man so obnoxious that karma might see him reincarnated as himself.”
Having lived abroad off and on since the 1980s, I have developed a deep appreciation for the way media approaches the news outside the United States of America, particularly the British media, who frequently dare to print articles that would rarely – if ever – see the light of day in the United States.
I came across a couple of stunning articles that absolutely raked Trump over the coals. The first was published by the New Statesman in December 2017, weeks after the election, the second was published in February 2017 by The Guardian less than a month after Trump’s inauguration.
The New Statesman
The New Statesman published an interesting defense of soon-to-be First Lady Melania Trump. A play on words, the title read: “We should be kind to America’s First Victim — Melania Trump.”
After noting that she was “married to the world’s most powerful sociopath, the New Statesman contributor Laurie Penny briefly discussed her pending campaign against online harassment, cyber-bullying.
It’s easy to mock this position, and progressives have duly done so. After all, the wife of the bully-in-chief speaking out against online harassment is not unlike Mary Todd Lincoln coming out against sideburns, or Eva Braun starting an inter-faith community centre.
The New Statesman then asked: “But what if something else is going on? What if this, in a veiled, desperate way, is a cry for help?”
Continuing this line of thought, the New Statesman added:
I’m not the first to notice this — SE Smith writes at XoJane that: “When a shy, retiring woman speaks out and the first words out of her lips are about a dangerously abusive culture, that sounds a little bit like a woman asking for help.” When Melania speaks, more than any of Trump’s adoring female entourage, she looks like someone with a gun discreetly pointed at her back, with her necklines so high her clothes seem to be trying to strangle her and that rictus smile that never reaches her eyes.
However, it’s the next two paragraphs that blew me away:
That smile is strangely familiar. It took me a long time to work out why, until I saw it on my own face in a shop window, a few seconds after an encounter with a gentleman in the street who took time out of his busy day for a stroll-by appreciation of my backside. It’s the smile you give to street harassers and drunk strangers who corner you at parties when you’ve lost your friends. It’s the smile you give someone who you’re afraid of, someone who might hurt you if you make them feel bad. The lines of that smile are etched into Melania’s face under the makeup, and now she’s training it on the world. I would have a crumb of respect for Trump if he were married to someone equally ruthless and conniving — a Claire Underwood figure, perhaps, a Lady Macbeth for the digital age who we’d all love to hate. That’s not how Trump wants his women. Trump will not be talked back to. His women do what he says, or else. His women must not get old, put on weight, or step out of line. What will happen to Melania if she starts to show her age?
Imagine being in her position. Imagine being married to that man, having to live with him, back him up, soothe his ego, deal with his tantrums. Her marriage will be under relentless scrutiny for the rest of her life, just as her body has been since she did her first catwalk at the age of five, but if anyone raises the alarm, we’ll be told it’s music and ordered to dance. Do we think that the ham-faced, race-baiting, woman-hating monster about to waltz into the White House respects his third wife as a person? This is a man who slut-shames and humiliates any woman who stands in his way, who is on record boasting about “grabbing women by the pussy”, whose first divorce was granted on grounds of “cruel and inhuman treatment”. In the gauntlet of horrific appointments to the new cabinet — an oil magnate and alleged friend of Russia as Secretary of State, a hero of the alt right movement as Chief Strategist, and Cruella De Vil presumably overseeing Animal Welfare — Trump’s history of violent misogyny seems to have slipped from view. But we must not forget it.
He began simply enough, writing of Trump’s questionable “sanity.”
America has gone from the Obama Years to the Trump Years, like going from The West Wing to a sitcom where the incidental music involves a tuba. I actually think Donald Trump is going to prove a lot of people wrong, but sadly not George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, or whoever wrote the Book of Revelation. It says a lot about the man that building a giant wall isn’t even in the top five most Game of Thrones things about him. Of course, presidents always enter office with something to prove, it’s just rarely their sanity.
However, like with the New Statesman, there are a couple of passages – rants – that stand out:
My best guess at the great man’s next move is the hoisting of an enormous burning eye above Trump Tower. It’s a building for which the words tacky and gaudy somehow seem too jolly and frivolous. Close up, it looks like the memory stick where some giant alien sex-killer stores his worst atrocities, or a version of the black slab in 2001: A Space Odyssey, sent to restore our consciousness to the level of chimpanzees. Trapped inside, Melania Trump has a look that I’ve never seen before, the eyes of someone waiting with increasing impatience for Stockholm syndrome to set in. The look of a woman frantically trying to unlearn English, appalled to find that this only makes her understand her husband more clearly. Perhaps women trapped in marriages with monsters resort to plastic surgery so that it becomes easier to leave a wax head in their bed while they work on their tunnel at night. Perhaps the manicures are to hide the endless digging. Perhaps it’s the secret of their figures. They’re not dieting, they’re eating those peanut butter and fried egg sandwiches Michael Phelps used to train on and spending their nights burrowing like a fucking gopher.
Trump is at war with Saturday Night Live. He thinks it’s horrible and yet he can’t stop watching. Pretty much the same as how the world feels about him. How can he expect to escape ridicule? Being on reality TV is the closest he ever got to reality. His children look like a teen movie about Wall Street vampires directed by Uday Hussein. He has cultivated a square face that’s the shade of a banned food colouring and the muscle tone of a coma patient. He looks like aliens came to Earth and made a human costume after seeing one commercial for a car dealership.