Great Comedy is Tragedy Plus Time: Donald Trump Beyond 100 Days

If not for Washington DC’s aged streets, Donald Trump’s inauguration could have been all the more bombastic. Allegedly, the leader of the free world wanted a military parade to mark his ascension, something that certainly would have marked his reign as one of strength from the outside. Whilst the event itself would ultimately lack the, lets face it, phallic imagery of tanks and missiles, his inauguration speech itself laid bare how strong this administration was going to be. In full campaign mode, the new president spoke about how the time for chaos and disorder was coming to an end and how an era of stringent order was set to bloom. The message was the same that he had largely espoused on the campaign trail; the winter that allowed whiney snowflakes to thrive was going to thaw within a matter of days.

If I was a Trump supporter, I reckon I’d be pretty aggravated right now. Sure, the first 100 days were a phenomenon that’s equal parts American and incredibly poor for judging the capacity of a leader, but so far Trump’s proven himself to be an immensely weak commander in chief. Sure, there’s been the behind the scene’s executive orders that have gutted environmental and (some) health care rights, but what’s been more public has been his staggering inability to deliver any of that sweet sweet winning he talked about. Implementing the ACA, with his party controlling all aspects of government, proved to be, dare I say, A DISASTER, congress being forced to stand for guarantee for Mexico so that the big beautiful wall can be built and his muslim ban being thwarted by a plucky group of so called judges. Hell, even when things have gone to plan it has lead to some fairly spectacular misfires. The most perversely enjoyable being the stories emerging of Trump fans who thought that surely it wouldn’t be their friends of loved ones getting deported by the IEC Stormtroopers. If anything, the chaos has thrived internally over these 100 days, with the semi-public civil war between major-domo Steve Bannon and real estate prince Jared Kushner recently being quelled, the result seemingly being that the well-healed east coast liberal Kushner is now worming his way into Trump’s ear and almost certainly prolonging this winter.

Trump -
Trump announces US withdrawal from Paris climate agreement, source

So far the one aspect where Trump’s been successful is when he shows his administration’s capacity to evolve from a policy that represented one of the very few times that president Obama made a very public fool of himself. This is, of course, the decision to bomb Syria; something Obama threatened but ultimately hummed and hawed about, when Bashar Al-Assad turned chemical weapons on civilians. Fittingly, this has also been one of Trump’s decisions that has alienated most of his core support. Trump’s claim to fame is that he’s spent much of his life on reality television, a medium that’s famed for it’s meticulous crafting and scripting. A delusion that he seems to share with a core group of his fans is that reality is what he crafts and manicures it to be and if the bombing of Syria reveals anything its that this hallucination might, slowly, be coming to an end. In spite of everything that Hilary Clinton had going against her, one charge that couldn’t be levied against her is that she refused to see things as there where. Given the terrifying vacuum that would emerge if America where to shrink from its position as the World’s policeman, Mrs. Clinton made it clear on the campaign trail that she’d be willing to put boots on the ground in Syria. This isn’t perhaps something one would want but it’s been an inevitability for a while now.

A few months ago American troubadour Father John Misty released his third studio album, Pure Comedy. I’ve written for this site about the meaning behind this record, but the bottom line is effectively this: the problem with comedy is that it can only react, it can’t really offer alternative solutions. Late Night comedy has been dominated by jokes about Trump, but one really has to wonder if this is the best way of finding criticism of the 45th president of the United States.

Donald Trump SNL -
Alec Baldwin, one of many Trump impersonators on SNL. Source

Since Trump’s inauguration Stephen Colbert has emerged as perhaps the most notable comedian to take on the president (after Saturday Night Live maybe), with his nightly monologue being routinely dominated by Trump’s daily activities. Comedy is generally one of the best ways to mock authority as it shows them up to be all too human, and in a sense Trump is a perfect figure for this. He’s a cartoon character who gets hit with Stone Cold Stunners at the WWE and who attempts to offer sage advice on Sex and The City. Indeed, he’s frequently proved himself to be a shockingly humourless figure, which should in theory make him all the more easy to mock. The problem that’s come with attempting to use comedy against Trump is that the man has real power. When Colbert joked about Trump’s potentially collusion with Vladimir Putin, he was slapped with an investigation by the FCC. In a sense I think this underlines the relationship between Trump and comedy, which is that in the grand scheme of Trump, comedy has been rendered impotent.

When Trump is dismantling a health care system and systematically pushing back reforms, laughing about it seems to be kind of a hollow response. If Steve Allen is to be believed, great comedy is tragedy plus time. Trying to make jokes based on what The Donald is doing when the consequence of those actions is almost too appalling to understand has an air of defeat already about it. Sometimes it makes you wonder if a more sober response would underline the absurdity of what’s going on.

Featured Image Source