Sarcasm has never been better or more biting than since journalists had to begin to write and speak the words “President Donald Trump.”
It’s comedy paradise for late-night TV stars. The ratings for “Saturday Night Live” have surged and its edginess is back. Stephen Colbert has come out of his doldrums on “The Late Show.” John Oliver, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, and Seth Myers are all on a roll.
And it’s not just about “The Donald”. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Press Secretary Sean Spicer, senior advisor Kellyanne Conway, et. al., are walking caricatures.
Even Scott Stantis and Michael Ramirez, two reliably Republican, arch-conservative cartoonists, have taken to bemoaning this White House and the current condition of the GOP.
Support his agenda or not, Trump is a burlesque show. If he didn’t get his feelings hurt so easily, he would probably take credit for the pundits’ surge in popularity. But the flip side of the economic coin is a question: Have gag writers for the late-night stars been laid off? Because the Trump parody pretty much writes itself. I don’t know if there’s anything else on YouTube anymore. If comedy writers have to turn to coal mining for work, then job creation is kind of a wash.
On a somber note, the back-and-forth among serious commentators is exasperating, so I am taking a wait-and-see position on the outcomes on health care, foreign relations, the environment and the federal budget. But while I wait, I’ll enjoy all the chuckles Trump and Co. are providing.
I thought former President George W. Bush was inarticulate, but he stood up quite well when we were all in a state of shock and disbelief after the terror attacks of 9/11. He came across as comforting and in control – as presidential, if you will.
But Donald Trump was the first candidate in recorded history who felt compelled to assure voters that his penis is adequate. Also, that he’s smart. I’m reminded of the old axiom, “If you have to brag about it, it’s probably not true.”
The most astonishing thing to me remains this: Early in the campaign, Trump made fun of Sen. John McCain for being captured during the Vietnam War. There was a time in America when, if you ridiculed a war hero, you couldn’t get elected mayor, much less president. Only slightly less astonishing were his crude sexual comments about a portion of the female anatomy, which went viral on the internet. Again, once upon a time that would have doomed a campaign at any level.
But our society has become fractured, racist, sexist and uncivil, never more so in my lifetime. And I’ve been under the delusion that I had lived in a time of progress.
In a conversation about Trump with a few friends, I suddenly recalled this iconic literary line from more than a century ago. “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
A friend replied, “That’s it! You’ve nailed it! Trump’s living in Wonderland.”
Actually, that Lewis Carroll quote is from “Through the Looking Glass,” not “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” But my friend’s response was well-taken. Trump’s Wonderland is one of “alternative facts.” And if journalists dare fact-check him, they’re “fake news.”
Much has been made of the notion that Trump doesn’t read.
But just in case he receives a copy of this issue of V3, here’s more dialogue from Lewis Carroll for him to reflect upon (maybe Ivanka will read it to him):
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary-wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where–“
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”
Last month’s weather was costly in these parts. March is supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. Instead it started out unusually pleasant, then suddenly dipped to sub-freezing temps just before the official first day of spring. Landscapers and home gardeners had to shovel up and toss aside early-blooming plants that died suddenly. More relevant to most of us, perhaps, is that 80 percent or more of blueberry and peach crops died. Strawberries and apples were also hit hard. It’s estimated that overall crop losses in Southern states could exceed $1 billion. As for you and me, we’re going to have to adjust our grocery lists.
If any one person created or defined rock ‘n’ roll it was Chuck Berry, who died last month. He was 90, which is a blunt and fitting rebuttal to the preachers, tele-evangelists, etc., who, back in the day, condemned this new musical style as a fast track to eternal damnation.
Unprovoked shark attacks dropped in 2016, after a record-breaking 98 attacks the year before. That’s according to the International Shark Attack File (yes, there is such a thing). There were 53 such unprovoked attacks in America last year, just two in Indonesia, something to consider as you plan your summer vacations.
That’s another reason to live amidst rivers rather than on the ocean. When was the last time an unprovoked catfish attacked you? That’s a promotional motto our area chambers of commerce and visitors’ bureaus can put on T-shirts and coffee mugs, and I offer it at no charge.
Just doing my part for the local economy.
J. Bryant Steele has won awards for business reporting, feature writing and opinion columns, and is based in Rome.