“I cannot register that Trump is to be sworn into office. I just cannot.” A friend remarked. “I hope he becomes somehow incapacitated before he gets into office.”
Aside a passing eye over the headlines, I cannot bother to read “articles” about the President-Elect's tweets, those barking missiles aimed at avoiding responses and discussion as much as possible. And yet, back in the states it was time to read something about the situation. With a multitude of hours on my hands, flying across country the long way round west to east, I selected Vanity Fair and the New Yorker at the no, let’s not call it a book store, let’s call that kind of shop a granola bar and tee-shirt shop. T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland and Thomas Mann’s Tonio Kroger were also in my tote bag.
Cramped in my United seat, I sat next to a woman playing with her phone. I read half of Tonio Kroger in German, and then Vanity Fair’s special reportage on the Trump game. Suffice it to say that Vanity Fair’s claim to fame is fancy photos and muck racking articles dishing the dirt on people we recognize from photos. In the past, I have from time to time appreciated their inquisition antics.
During this last trip I read VF's article on the lost Apprentice Tapes, the most interesting angle was the discussion of the media manipulation of Trump’s campaign. Moving on to an editorial type article about the personal experience of the aftermath of Trump’s election, a moaning and searching piece looking for weight to register for a green card in a foreign country, it appeared to me as an article without much merit or interest. Then came the piece on the Trump sister act followed by the Trump bro-romance, and then finally the triumph of the Largo del Mar presidential vacation spot, intended as a presidential retreat and now, by default, a presidential retreat complete with a gaggle of Trumpettes, aged groupies, on the intro page to the story.
Vanity Fair had lost its left hook. It had also lost its right punch. You see, the mass of inappropriate statements, obscene business practices, name calling, and other offences unleashed by Trump’s communication platform practices had rendered a magazine like Vanity Fair powerless. It had nothing new to report; Trump had basically prepackaged and trademarked any scandal and sold it for profit before a journalist could pounce.
During the next leg of my journey I read more Tonio Kroger, and then decided to read the Trump article in the New Yorker. The woman next to me played with her telephone. The New Yorker article brought forth the argument that Trump was the answer to moving the American Republican Party along to a new era or moving the bipartisan theme towards outer space exploration. Never mind the man, the article prompted, and his tweets, Trump was an instrument that would slay and lay dinosaurs to rest.
Where, I thought opening up TS Eliot’s The Wasteland for the final mileage of my journey, is the person behind the President-Elect? It’s like we have all ended up “playing the gramophone.”