Keith Olbermann is a news and sports commentator and reporter.
Okay, Donnie, you win.
I’m moving out.
Not moving out of the country — not yet anyway. I’m merely moving out of one of New York’s many buildings slathered in equal portions with gratuitous gold and the name “Trump.” Nine largely happy years with an excellent staff and an excellent reputation (until recently, anyway) — but I’m out of here.
I’m getting out because of the degree to which the very name “Trump” has degraded the public discourse and the nation itself. I can’t hear, or see, or say that name any longer without spitting. Frankly, I’m running out of Trump spit.
And, yes, I’m fully aware that I’m blaming a guy with the historically unique fashion combination of a cheap baseball cap and Oompa Loompa makeup for coarsening politics even though, out of the two of us, I’m the one who has promulgated a “Worst Persons in the World” list for most of the past decade. That’s how vulgar this has all become. It’s worse even than Worst Persons.
This is the campaign of a PG-rated cartoon character running for president, interrupting a string of insults the rest of us abandoned in the seventh grade only long enough to resume a concurrent string of half-crazed boasts: We’re gonna start winning again! We’re gonna build an eleventy-billion-foot-high wall! We’re not gonna pay a lot for this muffler!
All this coarseness is largely masking the truth that the Trump campaign is entirely about coarseness. Take away the unmappable comb-over and the unstoppable mouth and the Freudian-rich debates about genitalia, and there is no Trump campaign. Donald Trump’s few forays into actual issues suggest he is startlingly unaware of how the presidency or even ordinary governance works.
Of course that doesn’t preclude his election. A December study carried out with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst showed that Trump’s strongest support comes from Republicans with “authoritarian inclinations.” They don’t want policy, nuance or speeches. They want a folding metal chair smashed over the bad guy’s head, like in the kind of televised wrestling show in which Trump used to appear.
And it isn’t as though the American electorate hasn’t always had a soft spot for exactly the worst possible person for the presidency. Two months before the 1864 vote, some Republicans were so thoroughly convinced that Abraham Lincoln would lose in a landslide that they proposed to hold a second Republican convention and nominate somebody to run in his place. The Democrat they feared, George B. McClellan, was not only probably the worst general in the history of the country, but also his campaign platform was predicated on stopping the Civil War, giving the South whatever it wanted, running the greatest president in history out of town and repudiating the Emancipation Proclamation. Even after the North’s victory at Atlanta turned the tide of the war and thus the election, McClellan — anti-Union, anti-Lincoln, anti-victory and pro-slavery — still got 45 percent of the all-Northern vote.
There could still be enough idiots to elect Trump this November. Hell, I was stupid enough to move into one of his buildings. But here in those buildings, even as I pack, is the silver lining hidden amid the golden Donald trumpery.
One day Trump appeared in person and, with what I only later realized was the same kind of sincere concern and respect that Eddie Haskell used to pay “Beaver” Cleaver’s mother, asked me how I liked the place and to let him know personally if anything ever went wrong. About 15 months ago, when the elevators failed and many of the heating-unit motors died and the water shut off, I wrote him. He sent an adjutant over to bluster mightily about the urgency of improvements and who was to blame for the elevators and how there would be consequences, and within weeks Trump’s minions were obediently and diligently installing — a new revolving door at the back of the lobby.
That three-week project stretched past three months, smothered the lobby in stench and grime, required the repeated removal and reinstallation of a couple of railings, and for a time created a window frosting problem even when it wasn’t cold out.
So at least there’s this comfort. If there is a President Trump and he decides to build this ludicrous wall to prevent the immigration from Mexico that isn’t happening, and he uses that same contractor, it’ll take them about a thousand years to finish it.