Written by Hannah Dunleavy

In The News

Donkeys and Elephants

His surname’s a toddler’s joke and the man’s an absolute shuddering anus, yet still the shitshow of ‘Donald Trump for President’ continues apace. Hannah Dunleavy fervently hopes #peakTrump is reached soon.

Illustration of Donald Trump with his hair being blown by a fan

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

I was at a wedding recently, when I heard an American, a dyed-in-the-wool Republican I’ve known all my life, say who they wanted to be their country’s next president. And I literally didn’t believe it.

“Please,” she added, rolling her eyes. “You think I’m going to vote for someone with no clue what they are doing? Of course I’m voting Hillary.”

And there we have it: the ongoing problem and worst nightmare of the GOP (the Republican Party to you and me) since this batshit primary began.

I started writing this column in the spring because I knew the race for the Republican ticket could be funny – often terrifyingly so. But even I wasn’t expecting this, Donald Trump and Ben Carson’s folie à deux becoming a nationwide madness.

So where does that leave the party? Really, really hoping that Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio starts picking up in the polls. They need a guy – and let’s face it, it will be a guy – who can appeal to disaffected Democrats, not one that’s going to send long-time Republican supporters running to the Hils. (Boom!)

And even the GOP seems to have the sense to know they probably shouldn’t have a presidential candidate who retweets fake crime statistics or one who thinks no Muslim should ever be President and that Satan was working through Charles Darwin.

And yet, America continues to climb to the seemingly unsurmountable summit of Peak Trump.

Among the reality TV star’s more outlandish recent claims was that on September 11 – yes, that one – he personally witnessed “thousands and thousands” of people in Jersey City “where you have large Arab populations,” celebrating the attack on the Twin Towers.

“I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it,” he added.

Carson agreed that he too saw the aforementioned (presumably massive) celebrating horde on television.

So, that definitely, positively happened, right? Well, rather than concentrate on whether it was politically correct, the US media decided to concentrate on whether that statement was true. Or whether it was, you know, a bit bullshit. Because they’ve always got to be picking on Trump somehow, eh? Those ruddy reporters.

What emerged was a single Washington Post article, dated 18 September 2001, in which it said “law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attack.” There was no source for the information and no evidence of anything coming of the questioning.

“Trump can say what he likes because he exists in a bubble, not unlike those created by reality TV shows. And people just shrug it off and wait for the next thrilling race-based faux pas.”

Trump took this as vindication of his story that “thousands and thousands” were celebrating publicly, despite local politicians denying this had occurred, including fellow Republican candidate George Pataki.

Carson then retracted his support of the story, saying he’d probably seen events elsewhere in the world and mistaken them for events in the US. Easy mistake to make, right? Because nothing screams Jersey City more than hordes burning the American flag in the street.

So, who’s right? The point is it doesn’t seem to matter. Trump can say what he likes because he exists in a bubble, not unlike those created by reality TV shows. And people just shrug it off and wait for the next thrilling race-based faux pas. Like he’s some sort of American Jeremy Clarkson rather than the man asking to be the next President. And yes, we all love a good exaggerated story. That’s what Brian Blessed is for, that and to prompt Radio 2 phone-ins about whether it’s ever safe to bite through an umbilical cord. But Brian Blessed is not running for the Republican ticket. Sadly.

At the same rally in Alabama where he made the “thousands and thousands” claim, Trump also said he’d put surveillance on certain mosques.

Later CNN carried footage filmed at the same rally, when a single African American protestor shouted “black lives matter” and removed his sweatshirt to reveal the slogan on a T-shirt. The footage shows him being tackled to the ground and kicked. One person shouts “all lives matter.” (Except the Muslims, right guys?)

It would be foolish to argue that Trump could do serious damage to the temperature of race relations in Alabama, but it’s maybe an illustration of who it is getting in the bubble with him.

What the GOP is hoping that the bubble will burst – and soon. The assault on Peak Trump continues.

Read all of Donkeys and Elephants here.


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Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.