Sen. Whitehouse and I have figured it out. We’re watching satire

Remember a couple of weeks ago, when that feckless posse of MAGA congresskids, including a few senators, posed in their kickline behind the NY court barriers, dressed in their little TrumpScout uniforms — and photos and videos of the lineup appeared everywhere, to ridicule?

That very day, Sheldon Whitehouse wrote this on TAFKAT:

“Somehow this reminds me of the movie, “Death of Stalin,” a terrific takedown of malevolent political suck-uppery.”

I believe he was thinking about one of the earlier scenes in the movie when Stalin, maybe dead, maybe not, is lying on the floor of his study and his minions gaze upon the body, paralyzed by terror. “Is he dead?” one of them asks. And it goes on from there.

Fair to say I have had more Death of Stalin moments than Stalin did, and had a big one earlier that week, when watching MSNBC coverage of the Trump trial. Suddenly I was taken by simultaneous visions which explained…everything.

So here was the Trump criminal trial, proceding the way solid criminal trials procede, no matter who the defendant. That is, it was real, logical life, with persuasive testimony and evidence minus glaring theatrical illumination. (On the periphery was Trump’s idiotic behavior which did not interfere with the trial, not at all.)

Then a strange thing happened. As I watched and listened to the reports on the trial, I felt my chair elevating and moving backward and up into the sky, far above the process I’d call reality. I’d been offered an angel’s view of America.

“No,” I said to myself. “This is fucking surreal!”

Inutterably ridiculous. Ever since the day in June 2015, when that mockable non-entity did his hilariously stupid ride down the escalator, a huge amount of crazy intelligent focus has been on this career failure, this dumb destructive guy. This…”nothing.” To quote E. Jean Carroll.

Feeling my contempt? Might as well feel my disbelief, because for the past how many years, one part of what’s going on in our American lives has not been real. It hasn’t even been “reality TV” and certainly has not been an “alternative universe.”

The trial and the others which will certainly follow are a collective metaphor for what we’re going through. Which is: real life v. absurdity.

There I was, understanding there are not two separate realities, into which our country is fragmented. There is only one reality.

So how did we get this other thing? How did the United States of America screw up monumentally by putting that nothing in the position previously held by, oh, George Washington, James Madison, Jefferson, Lincoln? Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Barack Obama? And Dwight Eisenhower, and maybe a couple of other Republicans who were, if not my candidates, at least real politicians, with some smidgeon of gravitas.

Not Trump. No. It isn’t possible. It didn’t actually happen. Not in real life.

So, if it isn’t real, what is this muck we’ve been slogging through for almost a decade?

It is a dazzling, brilliant satire, the mightiest of all satires. Ever. Because, like great satires, the narrative moves forward while floating only a couple of inches off the ground, so you can almost perceive it as real. Until you start laughing.

Mediocre satires sit so far off the ground, they are too obvious to be deep-gut funny. But great satires, while excruciatingly funny, are so close to the ground, so close to what really happened, they feel almost real.

Now doesn’t that describe our Trump saga?

Back to The Death of Stalin. (And yes, he was dead.) My brother and I went to see it together, since in a vague way it was history on the periphery of which hovered our family, who got the fuck out of Odesa before the Bolsheviks took power, thanks to my grandfather, who went AWOL from the Tsar’s Navy.

My brother has read much more Russian history than I have. Good thing. During the film,  after I’d grab some air after helpless laughter, I’d say to him, “That didn’t really happen, did it?” And he’d respond, “Oh yeah, it happened.”

Great satire. It seemed an insane invention, yet it happened.

So I believe what we’re living with is a great satire, written by the same guy whose brilliance demolished Stalin — Armando Iannucci.

I’ve always assumed Iannuci, who created Veep, has been taking notes and planning a far more sweeping American satire post-Trump. But he’s not waiting. He’s writing and producing it simultaneously with the events we’re witnessing every day.

What will he call it?


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