Some people still see a true babyface wrestler when they see President Donald Trump on TV. Many others see a heel. But let’s assume for the moment that Trump is still a good guy, that is a “babyface.” How will he get along with Kim Jong-Un, a true babyface. Trump would like a script in which after some brief preliminary hype and posturing, somebody else (Xi Jinping, for example) does the hard work of negotiating with the young North Korean leader. Then Babyface Trump gets all the glory, with little to no risk. But Babyface Trump is not in a great position to leverage the Trump brand in this game the way he did in his previous lives in real estate, reality TV, and pro wrestling. The kayfabe, the cheap heat, the dusty finish–are we Americans confident that Trump’s undeniable talents as BS artist and ratings machine are going to keep us safe from a North Korean missile? In fairness, the past several presidents, from both political parties, failed to disarm North Korea. Maybe Trump will succeed where others have failed. But he is the first president I have seen actively provoke and insult the North Korean leader, as if it’s all a sporting match in which the outcome has been rigged in Trump’s favor. I am concerned that Kim Jong-un has even more of a devil-may-care “sucks to be you” attitude than Chris Christie, and that we the people are in a more precarious position because Trump does not seem to realize that his life skills may not have prepared him very well for North Korea.
As day 100 nears, I am doubting the president can maintain the “kayfabe” much longer (h/t to Nick Rogers in NYT). His affirmations are seeming half-hearted, perfunctory; the “100 percent, believe me” suddenly lacks verisimilitude. He is also slipping into the “uncanny valley,” that is, we are starting to be able to see him as the almost-but-not-quite-human he really is, and it is an awful shock. He was, for some of us, just a hideous cartoon villain; then he became, unthinkably, president–still pretty cartoonish, but sometimes seemingly capable of learning. Now, to me, his appearance is appallingly and sickeningly nearly-human, but even more truly that of a robotic puppet (whether Putin’s puppet or not, I am still not quite sure, which is part of the sickening feeling). In fairness, it must be very hard work for him, at his age, to keep pretending that he has one fig to give about policy, conservative principles, our constitutional republic, our democratic traditions, in short what actually makes us as great as we are, however great that is. The strain is showing. Our job as citizens is to stay watchful, and not let ourselves be gaslit. That, at least, seems easier than it was in January, as Trump, unwilling to discipline himself, breaks kayfabe more often. No “march for science” can really touch Trump’s appeal to his base, but if he can’t or won’t work hard enough to keep the kayfabe going, he’s most likely going down. It is up to the opposition, or resistance, or whatever you want to call it, to take advantage by showing us–especially the persuadable swing voters–the small but scary imperfections in that are making President Trump ever more repulsive.