Does it really come as any surprise that Chairman Trump is shoring up the Pentagon with what he hopes will turn out to be the type of loyalists who don’t turn tail once the king takes a tumble? In a move which would be considered unorthodox in the hands of practically anyone other than The Donald, the Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, has had the hatchet job done unto him by the head of an outgoing government. Under normal circumstances you’d have to enquire why and what is the point, but norms of behaviour based upon the conventions of clear and rational thinking have been suspended in the USA, so we must assume there is an oblique point to this boardroom clear-out. Instead of winding down the hours, instead of packing his bags for a graceful departure, he’s playing a strategic game of chance wherein if he loads the judiciary and defence complex with enough lackeys and ideological soulmates, somehow the rug can be pulled from under the feet of the newly-elected and his potty period of rule can be extended long enough for a change in constitutional law allowing him a third and fourth term, which is only right and proper seeing that they guy is never going to perish like we mere mortals. Remember: old golfers never die; they just lose their balls. This guy? He won’t even lose his balls because they’ll be miraculously found on the green three-feet from the pin.
It’s a 21st century Viking saga of the 3C’s: Clinton, Covid and the Constitution. He beat two of them and by Jingo he’s going for a third. But to take on the constitution he’ll need Valhalla on his side. Immortality beckons. Failing that, he intends to succumb to a Scandinavian warrior’s death. His maternal genes are Scottish Western Isle, let’s not forget. What that means is that he’s got alchemy in his veins. Part-Pictish, Part-Norwegian Viking, Part-Celt. That’s DNA’s answer to hardcore. You can see it now. When eventually he does die he’ll be the one to decide. It’ll be on his terms. And the finale will be a spectacular, like the opening night of the Taj Mahal Casino in Jersey in 1990. Him lying there within his oversized suit, arms crossed in his favourite pose. His MAGA breastplate over his suit concealing his giant torso and his favourite 3 Wood resting gracefully in his cold, dead hands. The promise of joining the Pantheon with Odin and Thor ensuring a permanent smirk on his face. His crypt will be a Viking longboat doused in petrol. Millions of his dewy-eyed but vastly impoverished acolytes will surround the ceremonial long boat, still seduced by the simplicity of his message that ‘You are all great, and everything is great because I made it so with my genius, and things are going to keep being great so long as you keep me in the hot seat. Even though I’m dead.’
Melania will have split by then, taking her share of Louis XIV furniture back to Slovenia. Having said that, the kids will still be around fighting over which one gets to do the honours with the flaming torch, and which one gets to haul their beloved dad, who has now become ballast, in the boat out to sea where it will drift into eternity on a plastic aquatic wasteland he failed to tackle when he had the chance. A pity that, to Donald of the House of Orange, the threat of the Sixth Mass Extinction event wasn’t quite on a par with what the Trump image-makers at Fox News were nattering about on a daily basis. However, the prospect of his anointed burial at sea is a long way off, given that he’s got at least another three hundred years of bullying and getting away with blue murder in him.
So, what’s the score when a big-time loser is singularly determined to unshackle himself from the binding chains of loserdom? And do not underestimate the man’s determination. He is a legend among stubborn bastards with his Highlander blood up and his William Wallace-like ability to slither out of trouble when it comes calling. What’s more, that sheen you see him covered in when the limelight saturates him, that’s not the sweat of a man who knows justice is breathing down on him. That sheen is teflon, which somehow he managed to coat himself in sometime in the late eighties when women wore shoulders pads. We know that nothing sticks to teflon except teflon itself. Donald fights the auguries of misfortune by heaping on coat after coat of the stuff until he positively radiates plasticity. That with the hair that turns orange under the spotlight and back to blond when by rights a 74 year-old should be white all over, he’s the human equivalent of a chameleon, but not as cute.
So why purge the cabinet and the chiefs of staff when your goose is three-quarters cooked already? It doesn’t take a tactical wizard to work out that he has no intention of going. And even if deep down he knows not even his superhuman inner resolve can save the divine inheritance that most call the temporary job of being President, such is his spitefulness he’ll sow chaos, kick up hell, before he goes. He will gather his Praetorian rearguard and cram them into not any old position of power but positions of power that put the fear of death into fair-minded sorts: positions such as Supreme Court judge, Defense Secretary, Attorney General, or Chiefs of Staff. The guy wants supine loyalty more than anything. This is why Trump Organisation’s executive body consists of the fruit of his loins. Not even his own sperm would betray him, surely? But can these belated appointments – late substitutes in a game that’s surely already lost – really make a difference to the outcome of the election? Can the latest iteration of an employee roll-call that has seen more dismissals than managers at Real Madrid football club provide the steel he needs to stop it all from coming crashing down? Do they, his loyalist appointees, really believe in him? Would they lay down their political life for this soldier of fortune? Or are they wolves in sheep’s clothing, cheerleading him until his great spade of a back is turned, and only then the glint of blades?
Read anything about the Emperor Caligula and the analogies between him and Trump become apparent. Both men were born into powerful families before receiving short shrift from the establishment. Both survived where others didn’t, rising with a bit of help, into populist heroes worshipped by the proles. Both felt themselves to be outsiders miraculously emboldened to attack the very heart of senatorial power while capable of highly erratic behaviour. Caligula killed with extreme cruelty the people he blamed for the death of his loved ones; Trump has let his egotistical policymaking do the killing during the Pandemic. While the latter cannot carry a murder charge, both acted callously. Caligula humiliated the senators he saw filling a first century AD swamp. Trump’s Washington/liberal Media swamp was also targeted, even though his presence as the biggest toad of them all just toxified the swamp all the more.
Caligula, like Trump, surrounded himself with men he saw as a cloak of invincibility. A sociopathic absence of empathy tricked Caligula into thinking he was fine, even when he mocked and derided his senators and, tellingly, his head Praetorian Guard, Cassius Chaerea, for being a tough guy with a cissie’s voice. When Chaerea snapped and plunged a dagger into the space between Caligula’s neck and shoulder the others in their senatorial robes joined in the bloodbath. Will it be the same come the 20th January? Will he be shrugged off bloodlessly by men he thought had his back? Or will Trump be the one to carry out a bloodless coup? Will he become the latter-day Caligula who didn’t die young and spectacularly badly?
Time, as they say, will tell all.