MR. TRUMP AND MISS LONELYHEARTS
Scandal—the original Greek form refers to a trap with a springing mechanism, an obstacle, an aporia, set in advance. And this is precisely the dramatic trope of our current political cycle. A movement is set in motion, and then trapped. The sequence appears spontaneous, but it is in fact over-determined by covert dynamics and a willfull blindness whose only purpose is to preserve the dramatic effects of the moment of surprise. Scandal is a low form of entertainment, the perfect genre of collusion between the aesthetically inept political class and the television-addled demos. The comedy is broad and infantile, the theme drawn from cartoon narrative such as the endless chase loop between Wily Coyote and the Roadrunner. And the dramatic climax never varries. Wily Coyote is scrambling in mid-air, impossibly suspended, until he looks down and realizes there’s no ground beneath his feet.
The obscene inflated figure of Donald Trump carries within its body both the system’s dynamic and its evoked disgust. Who would not have guessed, long before the scandal’s October revelations, that Donald Trump had molested beauty queens, ridiculed veterans, and mocked the infirm? Who would not have predicted the Clinton’s sanctimony in opposing him?
There is a true collusion between the political class and the working stiffs. They each agree to perfrom for the other. In a kind of escalating potlatch of despair, Donald offers himself as a figure of wickedness in America’s dark mirror—the Satanic mirror which tells unflattering truths to its preening subjects. The return gift is mass derision and parody highlighted by a grotesque parade of victims crossing over into the space of the mirror. They stare back at us bleakly and accusingly like the letter writers from Nathaniel West’s dystopic satire, Miss Lonelyhearts. This becomes the fated moment of the election. Clinton becomes the Miss Lonelyhearts candidate. Trump becomes the Satanic editor Shrike.