Bryan Zepp Jamieson
May 28th 2023
Talk to a Trump supporter for more than a few moments, and the absurdities begin to pile up like newspaper wrappings and plastic bags in a blind alley. Trump is a victim of Antifa and George Soros. The communist leftist radicals plotted for years to bring him down. America was never richer nor more powerful than it was during his presidency. Trump built the wall and solved the border crisis, only to have the Democrats destroy it. Trump cured COVID. Trump exemplifies probity, patriotism and piety. It goes on and on.
It reminds me of some of the claims I’ve heard about North Korean strongmen: they can shoot a perfect 18 in a round of golf, impregnated one thousand virgins in a single night, and lift a starving and benighted nation to glory.
I’m sure most of you have seen examples of what I call Trump Tractor Art; hagiographic images that portray Trump as a hero, a leader, even as Jesus. Some of them made it onto those ridiculous NFT ‘trading cards’ that Trump was peddling last year.
I understand they’re selling “Trump dollars” now at an inflated price that have exactly zero value. A few years ago I gifted a friend with a Trump coin, which basically resembled a fifty cent piece only the presidential seal replaced the national one, and Trump replaced Kennedy. It was a brass alloy designed to be golden, and the quality was actually surprisingly good. I paid $4.99 for it. I’m a jokester, not an idiot. I’m kinda sorry I didn’t get one for myself: it was unique amongst the trolling-for-morons marketplace of MAGAland in that it wasn’t utter garbage and was reasonably priced.
In much of the tractor art emitted by Trump sycophants, he bears an unnerving resemblance to The Homelander, arch-villain in Garth Ennis’ HBO production of The Boys. Given Trump’s personality problems, the notion of a Trump with superpowers is horrifying. Vain, brittle, narcissistic, delusional and devoid on any personal ethics or morality. I’ve wondered in the past if Garth Ennis drew some of his inspiration for The Homelander from Trump. A similar emotionally damaged human with superpowers was Alan Moore’s “Kid Miracleman” and while his physical appearance was drawn from David Bowie, his empty malevolence seemed familiar more to that of Trump’s.
Which brings me to a claim a Trump supporter made recently that stopped me in my tracks in utter disbelief. The claim was that Trump was far more popular before he decided to run for president and he sacrificed that to the howling mob of haters who opposed Trump because he was strong and noble and pure. Or something.
The thing is, a lot of people saw Trump for what he was long before he decided to run for president. His notoriety was such that he became a frequent target in such well known daily comic strips of the 1980s and 1990s as “Bloom County” and “Doonesbury.” Berkeley Breathed, the creator of Bloom County, quit mocking Trump for the simple reason that he wanted people to smile and feel better, not worse. (Reports that Trump hit him with a cease-and-desist order, while certainly plausible enough with the thin-skinned Trump, turned out to be myth.) Garry Trudeau had no such qualms, and made Trump a mainstay in his strip from the early eighties right up to this morning’s strip. He even had Trump running for president in 2000. The idea was that a man so vile and vulgar would get a rabid following but end up flaming out in scandal. This was back in the days when it was believed that rank-and-file Republicans at least possessed some of the integrity and values that they loved to inflict upon others. Then, as now, Trump was vile, he was vulgar, and he was ridden with scandal. He was a cheat, a liar, a bigot and vicious as hell in the 1980s, and everyone knew it.
Even he knew it. Shock-jock Howard Stern asked him about running for President back about that time, and he said that with his history with women and the law, he could never get elected.
Just his history in the court system revealed a man who cheated his customers and clients, didn’t pay his bills, and ran endless scams. He even had to settle on cheating a children’s cancer charity, and is forbidden from being involved in such charities in New York state. His relationship with the courts is one of using an army of lawyers to obfuscate and delay, and eventually to get away with a vast panoply of misdeeds, not through justice, but through attrition.
One of his most infamous moments came with the 1989 case of the Central Park 5. A young woman, Trisha Meili. was viciously assaulted and raped and left for dead while jogging in Central Park. The assault was so vicious that to this day she has no memory of it, having lost 80% of her blood, sustained significant brain injuries, and was left tied up to die. Suspicion immediately fell on a group of black children who had been nearby, youths aged 14 and 15 who had been hassling but not really threatening people in the park. Police coerced confessions from the bewildered kids, and Trump blew $85,000 on a full page ad that read, in part “I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer… Yes, Mayor Koch, I want to hate these murderers and I always will…. How can our great society tolerate the continued brutalization of its citizens by crazed misfits? Criminals must be told that their Civil Liberties End When an Attack On Our Safety Begins!”
He wanted the death penalty brought back specifically to punish those kids. (Then, as now, he was wholly ignorant of the Constitution and its prohibition against Bills of Attainder and ex post facto enforcement of laws.) That would have been bad enough, but the totally mismatched DNA (which the NY pigs called “inconclusive”) was found to match that of a man who confessed to the crime, Matias Reyes.
That was in 2001, twelve years later. The kids, now adults, were released and several won large suits against NYC due to the massive miscarriage of justice they suffered. (Reyes never was tried for the rape and near-murder of Meili, due to the statue of limitations. Oddly, Trump didn’t weigh in on that injustice, perhaps because Reyes isn’t black.)
Now, most demagogues would be content to slither under their rocks and pretend their calls for the execution of five kids was due to bad information at the time. Not Trump. He snorted, “You have people on both sides of that. They admitted their guilt.” Under duress, and of course, police station confessions are a favorite tool of dictators world wide. Stalin was very fond of those.
Trump likes to deflect, claiming without evidence that the kids “mugged” dozens of other people in the park at the time. He’s let it be known that he would have liked to see those five boys executed ANYWAY, regardless of whether they committed the crime or not.
So no, Trump was NOT ‘more popular’ then. He may not have been as unpopular, but that’s not quite the same thing. He was widely derided, scorned, even hated, and he gave ample cause.
We didn’t like Trump than, and we don’t like him now, and no amount of myth-building amongst his dwindling band of followers is going to change that.