There is no shortage of crazy, maddening, Orwellian stories to have come out of the new Trump administration in just the last few weeks, not to mention the whole election. But the most bizarre may have come from a pastry chef.
At Trump’s inauguration, he and Mike Pence cut a giant celebratory cake with a sword. It was a glorious blue, star-studded layer cake that looked so familiar. Too familiar. The chef commissioned to make President Obama’s inaugural cake made the identical one eight years ago, but not this one. And the bakery even innocently posted on Instagram that they were commissioned to recreate the cake as inspired by the Obama one. This story sounds delicious until you realize THE CAKE WAS MADE OF STYROFOAM. It was strictly ceremonial, nothing more than a prop.
Unlike Sean Spicer’s blatantly false inauguration attendance announcement or Trump dodging questions about his tax returns, this isn’t Trump attempting to pull one over on the press and the American people. It’s too obvious and transparent for anyone to have not noticed or for the Trump office to pretend it’s an oversight.
No, this is a sinister coded message from Trump directly to Obama: “I am going to take everything that stands for you, and Mike Pence and I are going to cut into it with a fucking sword.”
President Trump can’t be faulted for inaction in his first few days of office. He has issued roughly a million executive orders to date, holding each one up to the camera after signing it as though showing his parents for it to be put on the refrigerator. In each he has taken a signature cornerstone of Obama’s legacy and acted to dismantle it with the stroke of a pen. Obamacare? Gone, regardless of the ramifications. LGBT rights and environmental issues have all but disappeared from The White House website. If Obama was dragging his feet on the Keystone Pipeline, just get it done. Scream JOBS at people and forget the rest. What’s the TPP? Democrats don’t like it either? Who cares? Get rid of it.
If this were Mike Pence in the driver’s seat, or another GOP leader, we might see similar actions to what Trump has taken. But the effort to repeal Obamacare would come as a concerted effort presented as bi-partisan support rather than a swift executive order regardless of recompense. Pence would make his values clear from Day 1, taking a stand not just against abortion but against gay marriage and make it a focal point of his administration’s policies. Pence certainly wouldn’t be comparing attendance numbers at his inauguration.
What Trump has done in his first few days in office has confirmed what people have already known about him. He has no values or principles, and he cares only for himself, doing everything and anything he can to get revenge on his enemies and stroke his own ego. That means sticking it to Obama and every liberal who didn’t vote for him. He talks a big game about caring about the working class and the Real American, but even they know that’s bullshit. The difference this time is that they don’t give a fuck.
Politics used to be boring. A Presidential debate was previously a structured series of talking points in which two fiscally minded careerists weighed their approaches to effectively generate revenue, decrease unemployment, lower the deficit and improve foreign policy, and they differed slightly in their ideas on how to accomplish that. If that sentence sounded long and dull, it was supposed to be.
Today, politics aren’t politics but are all about ideology, and it’s all two-sided. Either you support gay marriage and LGBT rights, or you hate queer people and think homosexuality is a sin. Either you believe in a woman’s right to choose on abortion, or you think everyone’s a baby murderer. Either you accept the science of climate change and think something needs to be done urgently, or you think it’s a hoax. Either the problem in America is Muslims, Mexicans and black people, or it’s jingoistic white trash hicks and racist high trash CEOs.
With everything being boldly red or blue and no gray area (purple?) in between, debates among candidates and pundits turn into shouting matches and gaffe fests. It’s no wonder we’re divided.
I was talking with a critic friend of mine, Keith Uhlich, on my podcast a few weeks back. We were talking about “La La Land” backlash and my co-host and I somewhat operated on the assumption that you either adored “La La Land” or thought everyone who liked it was dead wrong and uncool. It certainly feels that way on Film Twitter. But he pointed out that if you look closely enough at either party, the people who like or dislike it, you’ll find differences that you wouldn’t have expected.
If you care to dig deep enough, it’s likely you’ll find liberals who don’t all agree on individual issues. Someone might be a strong environmentalist, but they may have mixed feelings about abortion. Another might be appalled by the ban on Muslims that Trump has put in place, but are passionate gun supporters. There may be African Americans startled by the number of deaths of black men and women by police officers, but are equally frustrated by Democrats’ actions as it concerns jobs. To echo Uhlich again, we often contradict ourselves; we contain multitudes.
On the opposite note, I have observed republicans and conservatives frustrated by Trump’s actions in his first few days of office. Some dislike his choice of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, a woman who does not know the difference between proficiency and growth in students and believes that guns should remain in schools for threat of grizzly bears. Others are just as shocked as liberals that he would actually go as far as to ban Muslims and refugees, despite him campaigning on that platform. And others still wish he would stop tweeting about stupid crap like “Saturday Night Live” and pretending Meryl Streep is an overrated actress.
What I have not seen are these same people letting Trump and other followers know they support his policies but won’t stand for the hate and lies that he and his staff peddle. A moratorium has been made around criticizing the President. From Trump’s perspective, anyone who does is overrated or a disgrace or lying or all three. From MAGA supporters, anyone who does is not only un-American, but a whiny crybaby who just needs to grow up and support whatever the President decides. *
*(An overly PC note: This tends to be the only insult lobbed at the opposing class. It’s problematic because firstly, it’s emasculating, the sort of demeaning language that became common throughout Trump’s campaign in terms of how he casually treated women, the media and the public. Secondly, it’s an attempt by Trump and his supporters to appropriate and subvert liberal language and criticisms to fit their own agenda. When liberals started complaining that fake news was a rampant problem that misled millions of voters, republicans turned it on its head and used it as a way to discredit the media at large. Never mind that there is a difference between poorly sourced, slightly inaccurate information or imperfect journalism, and calculated political propaganda efforts. When Trump’s opponents claimed that his actions represented tyranny on par with Nazi Germany, Trump tweeted, “Are we living in Nazi Germany” as a strange way to make the CIA and media look like the tyrannical ones. And what’s more, Trump has been nothing but vain and childish in his obsession with minuscule details. Claiming that everyone else is being a baby is a rhetoric reversal at its best.)
Within the process of writing this post, I got blocked on Facebook, the first time that’s ever happened. By an extended family member no less. I wrote what I felt was a reasoned response to a baiting meme that tried to suggest liberal hypocrisy. She said How dare I? How could I be so nasty and disrespectful? She respects my freedom of speech by allowing me to post my opinions without her commenting. Why should I intrude onto hers?
This is so backwards, and it’s an example of how Trump and those in his cabinet like Kellyanne Goebbels… I mean Conway, can twist and distort reality. It’s not suppression of free speech to have a conversation or to criticize. It IS suppression to block someone from expressing that point of view (we’ll leave Facebook etiquette out of it for the moment). I repeat: you’re ALLOWED to criticize the President. It’s what this country was founded on.
And that’s what I ask of those who still support Trump after these horrific not even two weeks in office. If you genuinely like what you see, explain why. Don’t call out liberal hypocrisy. Don’t drag Hillary or Obama back into it. Don’t say protesting is disrespectful. If you really are going to stand by your guy, actually defend his actions. Doing so will open up a deeper conversation about what among his policies actually works and what could be improved. Barring that, it’s hard to envision a reason other than race, gender, sexuality and religion being the real reasons behind doing anything.
I do wish that sort of discourse was possible. But MAGA supporters have made it clear they want no part of a liberal, coastal point of view, despite how short sighted and flawed that label actually is. They call for more empathy of the working class flyover country, but empathy is a two-way street, jerk.
As a result, so many Americans have been effectively deluded into blindly supporting this horrible, offensive, thin-skinned, egotistical and vain asshole of a man. They’ve convinced themselves he’s a good businessman. That he knows what’s best for the country. That he’s a good Christian, of all things. But all of these increasingly seem like a fantasy, a fictitious narrative and unattainable goal that, so long as he says it to be true, Donald Trump will Make America Great Again. The cake is a lie.