Debate preparation is one of the ancient rituals of political campaigns, a necessary moment of rehearsal for a consequential inflection point. Imagine, if you will, a room full of rabid monkeys hurling their feces at high velocity.
Which is, of course, why the president spent part of his weekend and Monday tweeting about Joe Biden taking a drug test before the debate. (Pro tip, Donald: If you’re trying to convince us you’re not into watersports, stop talking so much about people peeing.)
Trump’s attention span is notoriously short. We’re talking sub-millisecond short. He flits from idea to idea like a springtime insect feeding on the waste pool outside the local meth factory.
Knowing he’s never going to prepare like a grown-ass adult president, I present a few selections from the more likely versions of debate prep. He rarely listens to anyone for long, but between his family, his White House sycophants, and his Island of Misfit Toys campaign team, everyone might get a tiny bit of the attention apple before it’s over… not that it will do a damn bit of good.
The Trump family gathers in the residence. Jared sits with his legs folded under him on a sofa. Ivanka is draped over a chaise longue in a gold lamé evening dress (“The kind daddy likes”), idly swiping something on her iPad. Don Jr. is pacing, manic, pupils like ebony pinpoints, a bump away from a cardiac arrest. Eric Trump is wearing an Oculus virtual reality headset playing a video game where he chases small forest creatures with a knife. He’s already knocked over several priceless historical vases. Family members hold Trump-branded iPads with lurid gold leaf logos.
On a large wing chair sits the president, his phone in one hand, a Filet O’Fish in the other.
IVANKA: “Daddy, we need to debate prep.”
JARED: “Sir, if you’ll look at Slide 27 in the deck you’ll see…”
TRUMP: “Shuthafuup weathel, I’m eating.”
IVANKA: “But Dadddddy. Everyone says you’re not ready…”
Don Jr.: “FUCK THOSE PUSSIES. FUCK ’EM. BIDEN IS DEEP STATE, MAN. GOD DAMN, I CAN FEEL MY SKIN MOVING. WHO LET THESE BUGS IN HERE?”
IVANKA: “Don, shut up. Daddy doesn’t need the yelling.”
Don Jr.: “I’M NOT YELLING.”
Eric: “Dad, tell them glue tastes good. It’ll work.”
TRUMP: “Shut up, all of you. I’m trying to do my debate prep minute.”
JARED: “Sir, that’s not my slide deck. That’s PornHub.”
IVANKA: “Shhh. His methods work for him. Daddy, I love you most.”
MELANIA: “Vy is HotEuroBrides dot com in search history?”
The Vichy Staff
In the Oval Office, a harried Mark Meadows has a thousand-yard stare, his tension evident. Perched and Fox-ed to the nines, Kayleigh Mendacity’s flinty stare softens whenever the president glances her way, less buyer-beware and more come-hither. Dan Scavino is furiously typing into a laptop logged in to 8chan to post his latest QAnon updates. Other aides hover near the exits, expecting the worst.
MEADOWS: “Mr. President, no one is a better debater than you. You’re going to crush Joe Biden beneath your magnificent platform shoes.”
TRUMP: “When can I golf?”
MEADOWS: “As soon as we can find other players worthy of your majestic play style, m’Lord… but we do have to prepare.”
MCENANY: “When the mean reporters are gone, Sir. After the debate.”
TRUMP (Petulant): “No. Golf before. SCAVINO! GOLF!”
SCAVINO: “Where we go one, we go golf. Yes, Sir.”
TRUMP: “Noooo, golf now!”
The president of the United States throws himself to the floor, howling like an infant late for a feeding. Kayleigh drops to the floor beside him, comforting him.
MCENANY: “Do you need the binky?”
The Campaign Pros
The remnants of the Trump campaign sit around a table in their sleek—and pricey—campaign headquarters on a Zoom call with the president. On an 80-inch 8K Samsung television they see Trump standing in his tanning chamber, an airbrush slowly rotating around his svelte 239-lb, 6-foot-7 form.
TRUMP: “Good, right?”
BILL STEPIEN: “Mr. President, you are cut like a marble statue…”
JASON MILLER: “Mr. President, if I wasn’t banging strippers and leaving a trail of unpaid child support across the nation, I’d oil you myself.”
RUDY GIUILANI: “Shut it, perv. DONNIE, we gotta prepare for this debate. I have here my Super Secret Hunter Biden Dossier that was totally not given to me by GRU agents in Ukraine and is totally real for sure. You gotta memorize it.”
TRUMP: “Can we do this later? I’m having my lemur wig shellacked.”
Bill Stepien tries desperately to get the meeting on track.
STEPIEN: “Now, Sir, we have to prepare for this debate. We’re slipping nationally, we’re out of money, and Biden is leading in key states.”
Trump steps from the spray-tanning booth, his towel falling, to the horror of the men at the table. Trump wanders to a marble countertop, eyes himself in the mirror, and slaps his belly.
TRUMP: “Still got it.”
The aides at the table mutter their approval. Trump fumbles for a remote control.
TRUMP: “SCAVINO! I can’t find the Gorilla Channel on this TV.”
STEPIEN: “Mr. President, it’s important…”
TRUMP: “SCAVINO! DAN! Where’s the fuckin’ Gorilla Channel?”
GIULIANI: “Is this place open bar?”
ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR: “Mr. President, remember to declare martial law during the debate. It’ll be fun.”
STEPIEN (Whispers): “We’re so fucked. I’m gonna have to go back to Jersey.”