Garrison Keillor is an author and radio personality.
So many Trumpists have written in since the election, and I am grateful for their interest and also impressed by the sheer variety of their profanity. I never learned to swear that well because by the time my mother died, at 97, it was too late for me to learn. I gather from the letters that these people’s lives were devastated by the advent of gay marriage, political correctness, the threat of gun control and the arrogance of liberals, and now a champion rises from Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue and East 56th Street, and God forbid that any dog should bark when he speaks or any pigeon drop white matter on his limousine.
What the letter-writers don’t grasp is that cursing is highly effective in person — someone kicks his car in rage, forgetting he’s wearing flip-flops, and flames pour from his mouth, and it’s impressive. But you see it in print, and it’s just ugly. It makes you pity the writer’s wife.
It’s not good form to curse at someone you’ve just defeated. That is why the president-elect made it clear he would not be waterboarding Hillary Clinton or sending her back to Mexico. He was gracious in victory and said the Clintons are “good people.” Several of his biggest applause lines seem to have been put back in the box. And his base is faced with the possibility that they may have elected a Manchurian. They know that he was a Democrat for most of his life and that the sight of Adam and Steve holding hands does not fill him with loathing. He is, after all, a New Yorker; he’s not from Tulsa. He likes drama. Maybe he’ll appoint his sister to the Supreme Court. Maybe he would rather row than wade. Maybe the Republicans will privatize the Pentagon, and maybe the Chinese will be the low bidder. Why not run the Marines like a business? Put the “deal” back into “idealism.”
Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie waits for the prosecutor to call and summon him to a low-ceilinged room with fluorescent lights and ask him pointed questions for the good man to answer under oath and say the same things he’s said in public, that he had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with those orange highway cones. Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani waits for his phone to ring, the mayor who put his emergency command center on the 23rd floor of the World Trade Center, over the objections of the police department, and later started his own security consulting company. This is a new level of chutzpah. This is like the captain of the Titanic, had he survived, writing a book about the art of navigation.
My first election was 1948, when we stayed up late listening to returns on a Zenith radio, in our basement home in the cornfields north of Minneapolis. Mother was content with Harry Truman’s victory, believing that he cared about the poor, and Dad was dubious of politicians in general and Democrats in particular. It was interesting for a child to sense this division, though my parents were gentle people and evangelical Christians who refrained from voting, on the assumption that the Lord was in charge and would put into power whomever He wished. If you voted, you might vote against the Lord’s will.
Their reasoning seemed shaky to me — it seemed to argue that one should not get out of bed in the morning lest you eat the wrong cereal for breakfast — but I’ve inherited some of their fatalism. Maybe God did choose this bloated narcissist and compulsive liar and con man to be president, and maybe He will send a couple of Corinthians to light his pathway.
I have my doubts. You grow up to be skeptical of the hormone treatment that eliminates wrinkles, the metal detector that will locate buried treasure, the school that will teach you the secrets of getting rich, the great leader who will make the country great again.
But it does seem like the very thing God might do. Put an idiot in charge and cluster his clueless children around him and a coterie of old hacks and opportunists and thereby teach us haughty journalists a lesson. God made Balaam’s donkey open its mouth and say, “Quit hitting me, stupid.” And if He could do that, He could make this moose a halfway-decent president.
Meanwhile, blessings on all who cursed me. May you thrive and prosper. I hope you have not cursed your children.