Fear the Reaper

Paul Slansky
14 min readApr 22, 2020
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“This American carnage stops right here.” — Donald Trump, January 20, 2017

“I don’t take responsibility at all.” –- Donald Trump, March 13, 2020

Regarding the devastation COVID-19 has caused in this country, the only thing Trump bears no responsibility for is the virus’ existence. It does come from bats, and he is batshit crazy, but that’s as close as we can tie him to its origins (or, as he would say, “oranges”). Still, everything else can be righteously blamed on him.

Trump’s own lies, retractions and inanities recorded for posterity on video, and the testimony of those who’ve witnessed and documented the unfolding of this needless tragedy, prove his obvious culpability. He couldn’t have more blood on his wee hands if he attended the prom with Carrie and then rushed to the lobby of the Overlook Hotel.

I won’t take up your time by cataloging the multitude of warnings he received about the imminent disaster, nor by listing all of the preposterous misinformation he continues to spew, or all of the actions that could and should have been — but weren’t — taken, or the ridiculous defenses for the indefensible that he now hammers the press with during his daily tantrumps.

All of the above can be summarized in one sentence — his suggestion for how to deal with the coronavirus that “nobody knew” was coming (except, of course, for everyone who kept telling him it was): “Why don’t we let this wash over the country?”

Everything about Donald Trump’s disrespect — no, contempt — for life itself is in those nine words. At the peak of the pandemic he said, with all the emotion of someone ordering lunch, “If we can hold [the deaths] down … to … between 100 and 200,000, we all, together, have done a very good job. … I’m feeling very good about what we did last week.” (We’ll have rocketed past 200,000 by Election Day.) [NOTE: We did.]

Four years ago, in those innocent days when the idea that this vulgar buffoon — a man who lost money running casinos, for God’s sake — could become our president seemed not just laughable but unthinkable, I wrote a Huffington Post piece headlined, “Donald Trump Has the Soul of a Killer.” Having heard him tell his crowds to beat up protesters (“I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya”) and fondly reminisce about an incident in which his louts descended on another dissenter (“It was a beautiful thing”), not to mention his fantasy about committing murder on Fifth Avenue, it was hard to believe that anyone could fail to recognize his psychopathy, let alone be thrilled by it. Let alone join a cult of tens of millions celebrating it.

It has long been understood that Trump’s base is a cult, and all cults at heart are death cults. The leader — be it David Koresh, Marshall Applewhite, Jim Jones or whoever — ultimately wants to take everyone with him. Trump veers from the norm in that he doesn’t want to take anyone with him. He wants to stay right here and send others off to their deaths without him. He now demands that his followers renounce science, and they do! As George Orwell put it in 1984, “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

Despite the warnings of every knowledgeable medical professional — as opposed to hucksters like “doctors” Oz and Phil — he’s encouraging them to risk their lives for him in the desperate and vain hope that it will make the economy magically rebound. He sends his hordes of deplorables out to rail against Dr. Anthony Fauci on his behalf like Charles Manson sent his girls out to slaughter. And they congregate in angry mobs and the deadly virus bounces around those throngs like a pinball. Who’s that in the Tulsa “crowd”? Why, it’s Herman Cain!


There hasn’t been a thing Donald Trump has said or done as President — maybe even ever — that made me think, “Whoa! I never thought he’d say or do that.” We know him. We know him better than he knows himself. We know everything about him because he broadcasts it every day in bursts of bile and pus. Of course he’d behave like the mayor in Jaws and betray the country (an unfortunate habit of his) when it came to COVID-19. What was a mere death count of possibly millions of Americans compared to the possibility that something might hurt his re-election chances?

Trump’s self-image as a “strong man” is ludicrous; he is the weakest man ever to occupy the White House. While he’s out there playing the same boorish boss he played on Celebrity Apprentice, the Republican party — now a criminal enterprise based entirely on ignorance, greed and hate — has been using him to pack the courts with right-wing judges and get even more money to the already obscenely wealthy. That’s all these odious kakistocrats care about.

It’s a perfectly symbiotic relationship. Trump is their stooge. He’s a modern day minstrel show in orangeface. They couldn’t be happier to have him out
there putting on his surreality show and keeping us anxious and livid pretty much 24/7. It’s the perfect distraction from their malfeasance.

In exchange, he gets the ultimate platform from which to illegally enrich himself, and from which to air his endless string of grievances. And, since the only thing that exists for Trump is Trump, this vicious narcissist idiotically assumes that we all share those grumbles and gripes. Has any other human in the history of mankind ever more frequently whined some variation of the word “unfair”? The combination of his idealization of winners and his need to be seen as a victim is something scholars yet unborn will spend their lives trying to fathom.

Of course, no one could be as sadistic as Trump without also being masochistic. Ever since Putin’s Immaturian Candidate rode down that escalator five years ago he has been crying out to be stopped, an undisciplined man-child constantly trying to cross that forbidden line that would make someone finally punish him. Right out of the box he called Mexicans rapists and drug dealers, the kind of statement that would render any other candidate’s campaign stillborn. But no, this was apparently now acceptable. Talk (which with Trump is synonymous with lie) about the size of his penis during a debate? No problem. Spit on John McCain’s experience as a prisoner-of-war? Nothing to see here. Start a feud with a Gold Star family, insult women’s looks, make fun of a handicapped reporter? No matter what he did he couldn’t cross that line because the supine media kept pulling it back.

Then, thanks to the perfect storm of calamities — disinformation, foreign interference, and voter suppression — he was the President. And even then, every unprecedented offense, outrage, or absurdity has been accepted. One would think that the media would be eager to report the story of the century, maybe of the country’s history: INSANE FUCKING MONSTER IS PRESIDENT. Instead, they’ve opted for pretending that none of this — not the alienation of our allies or embrace of our enemies, not using his position to enrich himself, not the undoing of a half-century of social progress, not the consequences of his disbelief in science, not the caging of children — none of it was really that abnormal, was it now? It has fallen to the late-night comedians (not you, Fallon!) to be our most trusted journalists, while too many alleged journalists (looking at you, Todd!) have become useless toadies.

The fact — because of course facts do matter — is that the President of the United States is an absurd incoherent repulsive fascistic clown. The story here is that America’s 45th President is a predatory despicable whining malevolent imbecile. History will record that Donald John Trump was a malignant thuggish grotesque traitorous stain on the nation, and it will not be kind to the Republican quislings or members of the press who acted as if he wasn’t.

Trumps are hustlers and grifters and con men. The family motto should be “Born to Die in Prison.” His sole motivation is self-interest. The world stops at his thin orange skin (and though some consider jokes about his appearance cheap, it says something not unimportant about the judgment of an ostensibly adult male — he’s actually 74 going on 7 (alternate joke: he’s 74 but the 7 is silent)— that he thinks the bizarrely painted and coiffed raccoon-crossed-with-pig visage he preens to the world is his best possible look). As author Kurt Andersen says, he’s “the Greatest Self-Parodist of All Time.”

This famous “builder” knows only how to destroy. Thanks to Trump, the bar on standards in every aspect of American life is now so low that insects are stumbling over it. He has put previously valued qualities like decency, accountability and truth on life support.

And now his metaphorical body count has expanded to actual humans. Back on March 6th, when U.S. coronavirus deaths totaled a mere 77, Trump redundantly confirmed his preternatural ghoulishness when he refused to allow a cruise ship in the San Francisco Bay to dock because 21 people on board had tested positive. “[My experts] would like to have the people come off,” he said. “I’d rather have the people stay … because I like the numbers being where they are. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.”

The numbers! Everything is measured in numbers, and the survival of humans comes up zero. That he feels that way is chilling enough, but that he sees nothing wrong with expressing it is otherworldly.

He has, at the moment, in excess of 300,000 COVID-19 kills. More than THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND are dead in America from this virus, and scientists say the majority of them would still be alive were it not for Trump’s Brobdingnagian unfitness for the presidency. When he talks about the estimate of projected deaths going down he seems disappointed, like it’s some kind of ratings contest that he’s losing. There is no sentence more oxymoronic than “Donald Trump is pro-life.”

As he has shown in literally thousands of graceless statements and hotheaded tweets, and most disgustingly in his empathy-free responses to tragedies, he places no value on life. Donald Trump is death incarnate. (As someone recently tweeted, “When the soul leaves the body before death, you get Donald Trump.”) Even before he carelessly played host to a plague, his abolishing various environmental regulations were going to make our air and water more dangerous and eliminate more species, and his denial of climate change may be hastening the death of humanity. The only thing that truly gives him pleasure is inflicting pain.

Pretty much everyone Trump associates with comes away with their careers tarnished, if not obliterated. As former Republican Rick Wilson so accurately titled his brilliant book, Everything Trump Touches Dies. And even the actual deaths of his enemies don’t soften his grudges, as he made clear by continuing to bad-mouth John McCain months after his passing. The fact that this diseased beast fixated on borders has more than met his match in a disease that knows no borders is the definition of the irony he has no concept of.

Trump has always been obsessed with making people remember the name Trump, and at this he has succeeded. His notoriety will survive as long as there is history. His descendants will change their names. He has unprecedentedly abused and humiliated the Presidency from Day One, sending his press secretary, Sean Spicer, out to exaggerate (lie about) the size of his puny inauguration crowd while he used his first visit to C.I.A. headquarters to whinge on about how mean the media was to him.

To have gone from Barack Obama to Donald Trump is like jumping off the peak of Mount Everest and landing at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. And yet Obama is perversely responsible for the current situation, having mocked “the Donald” at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner — exceedingly gently considering Trump’s vicious birtherism (and exceedingly coolly considering that the plans to kill bin Laden were simultaneously underway). The Trump presidency is a testimonial to his lust for revenge, existing mainly as a platform from which to get back at Obama and, for that matter, at whoever else he thinks deserves to be gotten back at. We have never seen anyone so driven by vengeance.

Trump is often compared to King Joffrey in Game of Thrones, and I see in him a bit of A Clockwork Orange’s hulking droog Dim. His closest fictional counterpart, though, is the evil six-year-old from the classic Twilight Zone episode, “It’s a Good Life.” If, like Billy Mumy’s tyrannical Anthony Fremont, Donald Trump could send anyone who ever criticized him, ridiculed him, or even had a bad thought about him “to the cornfield,” he would have a death count that would soar past Hitler’s and not lose a moment’s sleep over it.

Actually, he’d boast about it at his rallies, since his depravity is his greatest strength among his rage-engorged supporters. That instantly iconic photo taken from inside the Ohio statehouse of his demented fanatics trying to get in — and if they had, people would likely have been killed there — is the defining image of his presidency, the predictable result of five years of breathing in Trump’s toxic fumes.

Photo courtesy of Joshua Bickel

But back to revenge. The most important thing to this president was to undo everything his predecessor had accomplished and, ideally, erase his existence. That included not just landmark achievements like the Affordable Care Act — they’re still in court trying to get it abolished even during the greatest health crisis in our history — but everything Obama had earned credit for. Every little thing. Did Obama push for pandemic preparedness in 2014? Well, Trump showed him! He disbanded the pandemic response team in 2018. Now that’s owning the libs.

Even before we began sheltering in place while our 401(k)s cratered, Trump was the most widely, deeply, and deservedly despised president of our lifetime. His shameless exhibition of racism, sexism, pettiness, puerility and hatred — along with his ignorance, incompetence, cruelty, lack of empathy and blatant criminality — viscerally repulsed more people than have ever loathed an American politician. His demise, when it finally and blessedly comes, will inspire global celebrations that will make Times Square on V-J Day seem funereal.


And now here we are. As author Christopher Buckley said, “When they’re digging trench graves, you know something’s gone awry.” Of course there was never any doubt that Trump would face some kind of crisis, or that he would fail spectacularly at confronting it. “Failing” is one of his favorite insults, which, given his lifetime of failures — among them airlines, football, steaks, a magazine, and remember, casinos! — is the prime example of his relentless vomitile projecting.

With Trump, every accusation is a confession. His attacks on the “fake” media are really his unconscious screaming, “Oh my fucking God, I don’t know anything about any of this stuff. I’m a fake president.” The world is rubber and he’s glue, and everything bad he says about anyone or anything bounces off of them and sticks back to him.

And while we’re back at the schoolyard for a moment, let’s remember this exchange from a 2016 Republican debate. Anderson Cooper: “Sir, with all due respect, that’s the argument of a five-year-old.” Trump: “I didn’t start it.” In all of American politics, has there ever been anyone less self-aware? Or is it more self-aware? He once told biographer Michael D’Antonio, “When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now, I’m basically the same. The temperament is not that different.”

And then, with his re-election hanging in the balance, his self-destructiveness showed up right on schedule and he ignored the coronavirus. Just as he brought forth Mueller by firing Comey and brought on impeachment by bribing Zelensky, so has his ineptitude brought out a long-overdue combativeness among the White House press — especially several of the women in it — that is finally beginning to report on the nakedness of the would-be emperor. The public is noticing as well, and polls now reflect a certain alarm.

He is reported to be increasingly furious as he watches cable news, and how could he not be, because the media can’t help but expose the howling abyss of his knowledge of being human. He has just uttered what is simply the stupidest thing any President has ever said — that if bleach or some household disinfectant normally used to clean surfaces was injected into your veins, its coursing through your blood would just pretty much clean your lungs out and that would be that and America would be Great Again. (He later claimed, as he so often does when the absurdity of one of his deadly serious blurts becomes a headline, that he was “being sarcastic.”)

The mockery has finally gone mainstream, and ridicule is Kryptonite to TrumpelThinSkin. He really does not enjoy being made fun of, and now he’s the National Fool. No, the International Fool. No, the Universal Fool. Whatever life forms exist on other planets, they’re laughing at him, and there is no sound he hates more.

Photo courtesy of the internet

The President of the United States is Chernobyling before the world’s eyes. His id is rampaging. He’s an idmaniac.

COVID-19 and Trump’s quintessentially disastrous response to it has turned this into an existential election, with nothing less than our survival at stake. The question on the minds of voters on November 3rd should be, “Are you willing to give this mentally ill man — whose vindictiveness, stupidity and sloth destroyed the economy and will have needlessly cost, by year’s end, hundreds of thousands of Americans their lives — four more years to do God knows how much more damage?” Or, more starkly, “Is the President going to kill me?”

The campaign, whatever form it will be allowed to take, seems redundant. There’s only one issue now — the President causes the deaths of Americans. Here at home. Four more years of that or not? Joe Biden should take his slogan from Michael Jackson’s ill-fated last tour: THIS IS IT!

You can find fault with Biden for any number of things, but before you irresponsibly don’t vote, or petulantly write in Sanders, or sanctimoniously vote third party, acknowledge that there is a difference between a flawed but basically decent man and one who embodies and flaunts each of the Seven Deadly Sins. As @OhNoSheTwitnt tweeted, “It’s not voting for the lesser of 2 evils when one candidate is actively trying to kill off large portions of the population.”

If Trump is defeated, his presidency will be looked back on as merely the country’s worst four years since the Civil War. If he manages to cheat his way into a second term, it will be seen as America’s turning point from a democracy to a totalitarian Orwellian future.

“Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” That hoary old Republican chestnut was set to be the center of Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, but don’t expect to be hearing it after all. Nor is he likely to play one of his favorite hits from 2016, “What have you got to lose?” He can’t use that one because we know the answer now.

Our livelihood and our lives.

Oh, and never forget, he lost money running casinos. I can’t mention that enough.

Photo courtesy of the internet