Six or seven years ago a Canadian friend of mine created a Facebook group that actually became somewhat famous. It was called We Support the Survivors of Bill Cosby, and was occasionally mentioned in books and the national news. He and I speak by phone every month or so and the last time we spoke one of us marveled at how irrelevant Cosby has become. We ourselves almost never speak of him any more. We decided it’s what prison does, it’s what loss of fame does and what loss of fortune does. No one cares about Cosby any longer. His power has evaporated and the world has largely left him behind because there’s no longer anything that’s fascinating about him.
Believe it or not and for a similar reason, I think we are closer to the age of “Donald who?” than you might otherwise think, brothers and sisters. Soon the slow dismantling of Donald Trump’s empire will leave nothing behind. Since much of what he is is fiction it will be all the easier to dismantle. His alleged wealth is in reality a money hole, a colossal debt on the order of a billion dollars. His fabled ability to negotiate his way out of anything will become a punchline at cocktail parties. His long standing talent for walking away from unprofitable deals unscathed, with others left behind to pick up the pieces, will become a thing of the past.
It will soon become apparent that there really is nothing special about Donald Trump, there is no there, there. His phenomenal luck will run out. He enjoyed streak after streak of good fortune because in a world of nearly eight billion people a subset of those people will be lucky just because, and Trump, like Cosby, was one of them. Like Cosby his luck is going to run out very soon. Like Cosby he will spend his old age in the most miserable, most humiliating, most awful of circumstances. It will happen because luck doesn’t care what or who you are or what you’ve done in the past. Sometimes the coin comes up tails — just because it can.
The media echo chamber that created Trump by underestimating him in 2016 now appears to be overestimating him in 2020. Many think Trump and the rabid cretins who drool over him on the outside will become an unstoppable juggernaut of power. I’m not among them. I think his brand will fade. In some ways, it will fade the way the brand of all ex-presidents fade. The aura of power no longer clings quite so tenaciously to the Clintons and the Obamas and the Bush’s because that’s the way it works. So it will work for Trump.
But Trump is a special case. He may be the very first president in history to be jailed for crimes he committed before and during his presidency. Prison is an informational black hole. And because there will be nothing new on Trump should he go to prison, people will cease to care. After all, you can’t write or film a story about nothing, and nothing is all that usually comes out of prisons, no matter how famous the resident.
It doesn’t seem possible now, but the fickle public has a short attention span. We will soon be talking about something other than Donald Trump. And for a malignant narcissist like Donald Trump, that’s a fate even worse than prison. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.