Scott Gilmore

This Donald Trump drama ends badly

Scott Gilmore imagines the U.S. presidential candidate's incredible meltdown: a play in four acts

In this image made from video, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters outside his Trump Tower building in New York on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016. Trump insisted Saturday he would "never" abandon his White House bid, rejecting a growing backlash from Republican leaders nationwide who disavowed the GOP's presidential nominee after he was caught on tape bragging about predatory advances on women. (AP Photo/Ezra Kaplan)

In this image made from video, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters outside his Trump Tower building in New York on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016.  (AP Photo/Ezra Kaplan)

Act 1: The October Surprise

The play opens blue, with Trump on the set of a soap opera, ogling an actress, and explaining how he likes to grope beautiful women: “…when you’re a star, they let you do it. … Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

It works as an opening scene, because there’s a delayed shock. Your first thought is, “That’s just Trump being Trump,” then you notice the women in the audience are grimacing painfully and with dawning horror you realize that “Trump being Trump” is actually sexual assault.

The “Soap Star” exits stage left, and a small crowd immediately walks on stage right. Standing prominently among them is the unmistakable long-haired Howard Stern, poking and prodding Trump in a congenial, winking exchange:

Stern: “By the way, your daughter…”
Trump: “She’s beautiful.”
Stern: “Can I say this? A piece of ass.”
Trump: “Yeah.”
Stern: “Do you even have an age limit?!”
Trump: “Of course! Twelve.”

There’s a ripple of disgust amongst the others on stage, then Trump pops a Tic Tac and bounds among them, chasing one woman after another around the set, like a dangerous, leering Falstaff.

Act 2: The Snake Eats Its Tail

The dramatic backlash begins almost immediately, with a list of characters too long for any playbill. Hillary Clinton, her team, and Democrats in general immediately began a Greek Chorus of “We told you so.” But centre stage is reserved for the Republicans. They hesitate for a moment, then walk slowly into the spotlight, clear their throats, and announce: “I have a wife and daughter. This type of language is just not acceptable.”

Standing in the wings, a crowd of African Americans, Muslims, Latinos, the disabled, and immigrants exchange dramatic glances, throw their hands in the air, and stomp off loudly.

But the ritual renouncing is not over; the spotlight becomes crowded as one Republican after another steps forward to condemn Trump, and demand he step down. There is John McCain, Condoleezza Rice, Arnold Schwarzenegger, several sitting senators such as Dan Sullivan from Alaska, governors from South Dakota, Utah, and the battleground state of Ohio. Too many congressmen to name jostle for attention, and behind them are talk show hosts, donors, and pundits, all denouncing their candidate.

The highlight of this act is Republican pundit Ana Navarro. Her monologue is interrupted by another Republican who complains about her use of the word “pussy.” She turns on him with a furious rebuttal of Trump and his enablers culminating with the full-throated line that will likely be most remembered in this play: “I think that every single Republican is going to have to answer the question: What did you do the day you saw the tape of this man boasting about grabbing a woman’s pussy?”

Act 3: The Dark Tower

For the next act, the curtain rises on Saturday afternoon, revealing diehard Trump supporters and Republican elites fighting over the smoking rubble of the Republican National Headquarters. The battle is won with a series of unexpected defections from the Trump ranks, which soon becomes a flood. Reince Priebus, the powerful chairman of the Republican National Committee and former party stalwart, surprises everyone by announcing that the party will stop funding Trump immediately, hoping he can divert the money to salvage some down-ticket campaigns.

A rattled Trump retreats to his tower, surrounded by family and his last loyalists, such as Rudy Giuliani and Brietbart editor Stephen Bannon. He emerges briefly to pump his fists unconvincingly among a crowd of dwindling supporters who have gathered on the sidewalks, then quickly returns to his bunker.

Act 4: Death and Taxes

It’s 3 a.m. Trump is sitting in his bunker, lit only by the light from his phone. He is tweeting defiantly, in ALL CAPS, in turns defensive, wildly aggressive, and angry. As he grows more and more wild-eyed, his advisers exchange nervous glances and wonder which of them must share the latest polls.

The next scene is the traditional Sunday morning TV talk show circuit. Trump’s last remaining surrogates chant Bill Clinton’s name repeatedly, in a Dadaist turn that is as jarring as it is nonsensical.

Finally, we are in St. Louis at Washington University for the second and probably final debate of the 2016 presidential election. A puffy-eyed Trump faces his nemesis, Clinton. They sit across from each other, one looking harried and worn, the other quietly smiling to herself, shuffling her papers and humming a jaunty tune. After a brief introduction by Anderson Cooper, the first question goes to Secretary Clinton, who pauses for a moment, smiles in anticipation, and gently asks Trump about his taxes. It is too much for Trump, who snaps and lunges across the table. As he tries to get his short fingers around her throat, he screams about Benghazi, Clinton’s husband, WikiLeaks and emails. The Secret Service leap in from back stage, and then Trump grabs his chest, rolls off the table, falls on the floor, and feigns a heart attack.

President Clinton, the entire cast, and the rattled and exhausted audience stream up the aisles and out of the theatre leaving Trump alone, on the floor, on his back, in the dark.


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