What if — what if Donald Trump were elected president? What would life be like? Andrew Shaffer has imagined exactly what it would be like. Well, not exactly, as his book “The Day of the Donald” comes with the important caveat: “A Completely Untrue, Utterly Unauthorized but Not Thoroughly Impossible Thriller.” This insta-parody from the author of “Fifty Shames of Earl Grey” and “How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters” is a clever spoof that, depending on your politics, will make you laugh or cry — or send eerie shivers down your spine.
It opens on a cold January day in 2017 at the U.S. Capitol, where “bundled up, pumped up, and in more than a few cases, liquored up” citizens have gathered to watch the Donald place his hand on a Bible “resting atop a copy of ‘Trump: The Art of the Deal’ ” and take the oath of office. “God bless America,” the 45th president says as he leaves the stage, “and let’s make some money.”
Eighteen months later, Trump has really, truly made America great again, believe me. He created jobs by building the Keystone pipeline and hired thousands more to clean up the project’s ensuing oil spills. His Day One repeal of Obamacare “left millions of unemployed Americans uninsured,” and health-care-free citizens died off in droves. “The resulting drop in the unemployment rate,” Shaffer writes, “sent the Dow skyrocketing.”
Now, Trump is looking to expand his influence abroad, and given our win in 1776 and our non-loss in 1812, why not go for the “three-peat against England?”
But before he takes another step, he wants to make sure his terrific legacy will be preserved for future generations — and on bookshelves in time for his reelection campaign. So he hires Jimmie Bernwood, a down-on-his-luck former tabloid reporter, to ghost-write his memoir, “America’s Greatest Decade.” (Term limits, for this president, are a formality.)
But when Jimmie finds his predecessor’s body buried among Trump’s fake flowers in the Rose Garden one morning, he worries that he may also be in grave danger. And before long, he finds himself hot on the trail of a killer in the White House and in the midst of a plot to halt the president’s “hostile takeover” of Britain — and perhaps the world.
“The Day of the Donald” perfectly channels Donald Trump’s voice, rhetoric and ego. “The forty-fifth president could eat a plate of bald eagle wings while doing wheelies on a motorbike over Ronald Reagan’s grave,” Shaffer writes, “and half the country would still vote for him in 2020.”
But in one of this book’s best moments, it reminds us that Trump’s rise is as much an expression of citizens’ disdain for their lawmakers as it is of their attraction to him. “Americans don’t like bullies in the schoolyards,” one character tells Jimmie, “but they love it when the victim of the bullying is Congress.”
John Wilwol is a writer in Washington.
By Andrew Shaffer
Crooked Lane Books. 288 pp. Paperback, $14.99