When I was a child I was enraptured by the science and lore of the Apollo missions to the moon. One of the myriad things I learned from my preoccupation was that the magnificent weight and solemn gravitas of the moonshot made ordinary, stupid jokes actually funny. On their way to the moon the astronauts simply could not crack an unfunny joke.
It was all about context, I later realized, and sometimes context can make the ordinary dangerous. Context is the stuff that transforms the most banal, obvious, quotidian pronouncements of the rich, white, chauffeur-driven male into profound truths. Context is what makes the most penetrating, sagacious insights of the homeless man worthless. It transmogrifies unremarkable memes we see every day on Facebook into deathless prose, reborn with the magic of photographs of gorgeous sunsets and beautiful people walking hand in hand. And it is context that makes so many Americans erroneously believe that Donald Trump is a genius.
It is unthinkable that Donald Trump would have ever gotten away with all that he has gotten away with had he been born black or a woman or if he was poor. The context of being a rich, white male has, on the other hand, made his numerous outrages, lies, criminal activities and sexual crimes not merely palatable but invisible to his support base. They seem constitutionally incapable of seeing him for what he is.
Even to this day and after all the excesses and boneheadisms we have witnessed from this loathsome jackass named Trump, some broadcasters and pundits still insist there is method in his madness, that he has an overall strategy or game plan that we mere mortals simply cannot fathom.
The truth of the matter is Donald Trump is a stupid failure. He squandered a 400 million dollar inheritance despite all the advantages to be had from cheating or refusing to pay virtually everybody he has ever done business with. He drove six businesses into bankruptcy, regained his lost cash by laundering money for criminals, participated in shady deals with underworld thugs, and, finally with the help of America’s most powerful enemy, stole the 2016 presidential election.
Nevertheless, I can think of one context Donald Trump will soon occupy that will make even the most intractable Trump apologist think twice before extolling the “genius” of his next, clever “secret plan.” It’s called prison.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.