In Donald Trump’s world, it’s hard to tell sometimes where the con ends and reality begins, but when you apply the simplest cui bono test, you’ll view the Don and Omarosa show through a very, very jaundiced eye.
Their very loud, very messy, very public spat has everything but an out-of-wedlock child and an evil twin. It’s the unspeakable in pursuit of the insufferable, and if it’s hard to tell which is which, that’s by design.
Though the explosive fight between these two heels may have a nugget of genuine, reciprocal anger and betrayal in the center, the cautious money is that it is almost entirely boob-bait for the easily gulled Trumpentariat, mere mummery and distraction from the widening gyre of legal, political, and economic trouble looming for the star of our national reality TV show.
This week’s episode consists of the usual kayfabe, with secret recordings, presidential shitter-tweeted rage, and the apparatus of the president’s media sycophants turning their fire on another of Donald’s once-beloved now-reviled ex-besties.
In Trump’s world today, the living envy the dead. For the unlucky White House survivors clinging to the wreckage, it’s a race against the clock.
The Manafort trial was a window into the kind of scummy, skeezy people Donald Trump hired to run his scampaign, and the odd prevalence of Russian money in all their lives. While the trail slowly grinds to its end and Paul Manafort’s future fashion options run to orange jumpsuits instead of $15,000 ostrich jackets, Trump is nervously posting more and more “Kick Me; I’m Obstructing Justice” tweets. The Mueller investigation continues its inevitable, Terminator-style progress. Trump knows he and his weak-chinned, slope-shouldered spawn are solidly in the crosshairs now, and no amount of tweeting will change it.
The economy, kept afloat on an ocean of quantitative easing for a decade, is feeling the ripples of the Trump trade war washing over the good news, and when the reckoning comes, it’ll be like waking up on a Tijuana park bench after a three-day budget-tequila-and-strippers bender. The tax bill was a nice sugar rush for corporate America, who promptly went on a stock-buyback spree, but their dragon-chasing for another hit of government relief is already getting ugly.
The electoral playing field this fall has Republican chances declining by the day. Trump’s imagined “Red Wave” is about as viable as a swim in the red tide flooding Florida’s coasts. The number of House seats in play is now over 70, including many considered safe just a few weeks ago. Democrats are—by some political miracle, given their usual abject incompetence—letting their candidates run races that work for the districts in which they’re running and not by some top-down DCCC playbook.
With a sane Republican president, the GOP would be poised to sweep a number of Senate seats in red-leaning states held by squishy Democrats like Bill Nelson, Claire McCaskill, and Joe Manchin. Instead, they’re confronted with a handful of too-close-to-call races, most contingent not on the quality and actions of the candidates, but on what crazy crap Trump tweets in the last week of the race. Ted Cruz is still the favorite to win Texas, but oddsmakers have moved the race from Solid Republican to “Maybe the Zodiac killer can lose to Beto” in their latest rankings.
For those of you with any public profile considering entering the Trump orbit, either for prestige, profit, or position, you may want to consider that Omarosa was closer to Trump than any friend, business associate, or family member. As a pure creature of the entertainment complex, she was created in and by the same reality TV bubble that created the character Trump plays on TV. She knows its rules and his behavior better than any of you ever will.
Take a look at the misfit toys who were fired, purged, or forced to flee the White House in the last 20 months and you’ll see the pattern play out over and over again; from hero to villain in a few easy tweets. Fox News blasts them constantly to isolate and shame former loyalists based on the whims, impulses, and fever dreams of a mad king.
Don and Omarosa have been a fun spectacle this week, but there’s an important reality TV lesson to be learned here. No matter how many tables this ragey, impotent president flips, no matter how many hair extensions get pulled out in catfights, no matter how many nights in the hot tub end in tears instead of with a rose, none of this will get cleaned up in post-production. There are no edits in the real world.
History’s unblinking eye will record the outcomes of Trump’s lavish, drunken-sailor spending, his ludicrous trade war, and his attempts to subvert and suborn the justice system long after the stage lights come down and the crews roll the last camera cases on to the truck.