Like it or not, the 2016 presidential election is already one for the books. On the Democratic side we have an ex-First Lady and a septuagenarian leading a whiny guy from Baltimore for the nomination; the GOP, meanwhile, having been essentially co-opted by a real estate mogul, is among others asserting a guy who literally read Green Eggs and Ham aloud on the Senate floor. For President. Of the United States.
It’s all Trump all the time, of course, primarily because of the fact that he’s an absolute firecracker and partially because of the fact that we’re all pretty much mortified that he might actually win (having the benefit of time travel, we already know he does). This past weekend The Boston Globe ran a great article about Trump’s forerunners, detailing a collection of figures who for all intents and purposes were Trump before Trump was Trump. Ironically, the point raised here is that Trump’s freshness, his standout vigor, and the anti-establishment rhetoric on which he’s built his entire campaign are in fact already storied installments in the annals of American politics. It’s history repeating itself while the guy at center stage harps about how everything he’s doing has never been done before.
Can we please have an off-Broadway production of a series of classics by Charles Dickens starring all of the presidential candidates? The Democrats have got Oliver Twist more or less covered: Hillary is Fagin, maniacally pulling the strings of the poor children flanking her; Bernie is Bill Sikes, because he could clearly beat up anyone in the entire race; and cute little Martin O’Malley is cute little Oliver himself, clinging to an impossible hope and crying “Please, sir, just ten seconds!” That might make every debate moderator so far the Artful Dodger, although there was zero artfulness in Lester Holt’s dodging of O’Malley when he looked the presidential hopeful in the eye, smiled knowingly, and then calmly, coldly, brilliantly called for a commercial break.
Much as O’Malley resembles a hard-up kid relishing scraps, the Republican side is still the most straight-up Dickensian thing since this. Trump is the most blatant real-life Scrooge in the history of civilization, begging the question as to who we might cast in the yet-to-materialize role of the Ghost of Jacob Marley. Picture Trump orating to himself in the mirror late one night when the Ghost finally arrives, the specter that will turn this unturnable tyrant towards the younger hearts of the society he purports to own, Trump immediately demanding the Ghost’s business credentials along with his immigration documentation:
‘Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. ‘Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!’
The downtrodden Jeb Bush is Bob Cratchit, pummeled at every turn by the domineering Scrooge and forced to keep that smile smiling all the while. It’s touching, isn’t it, when Bob prays for Scrooge at the end? He really seems to not think any ill will toward the guy. Of course we all know from the Christmas Carol Blu-ray deleted scenes where Bob retreats to his dungeon to stab voodoo dolls mocked up to look like Scrooge that the whole put-on-a-happy-face thing is just an act, and that Bob Cratchit wishes he could call up Oliver‘s Bill Sikes to beat the shit out of Scrooge and be done with it; he can’t because Sikes belongs to Oliver, which is an entirely different story. Bush wishes he could call Bernie in to wipe the floor with Trump, but he can’t because Bernie is a Democrat and that’s an entirely different story.
Marley’s not arrived just yet, but when he does the three Christmas Ghosts are ready for their time in the living daylight. Christmas Past is Ben Carson, probably, because everyone seems to have forgotten about Ben Carson. Chris Christie is clearly the Ghost of Christmas Present, judging by his immense girth and the overflowing cornucopia he carries around the campaign trail. Christmas Yet to Come is a little more difficult to make out due to the black hood and the overpowering sense of dread hung in thick waves about the ghostly personage and the wake of death and destruction trailing behind him, but hey, that sounds like Ted Cruz to me. Either that or he’s Tiny Tim because he keeps saying “God bless us, every one! Except ISIS! And New Yorkers!”
There are other characters in A Christmas Carol but I don’t really know who they are, which, again, fits perfectly with all of those other people standing on the GOP stage.
In any case, whatever the outcome, it’s going to be a historic year. It’s also going to be a really long year if the wash of campaign ads is any indication. The debates will in all likelihood continue as they are — either as discussions about politics or as “discussions” about “politics” — and the vast majority of America will sit not-so-patiently awaiting some peace and quiet. One has to wonder if there’s anybody (besides the press) who actually enjoys the campaigning thing, whether the candidates or their families or their peers or colleagues or parties or anybody at all is anything but miserable for the next year or so. It’s an odd institution from that perspective, everyone running around and getting worked up into a frenzy over something no one is actually deriving any pleasure from. We have to do this. Yeah, yeah. I suppose we do if the ends justify the means, but the ends hardly ever justify the fanfare. Time will tell.
Also, that movie Constantine kinda sucks.