Two Non-Political Observations On Donald Trump

August 25th, 2015 by Max Allan Collins

I have been warned not to talk politics here. This warning has come from my son, my wife and many other people saner than me. And I think they’re right. People who read these updates generally know that my politics are left of center – slightly left, I think, but to a Tea Party conservative I probably look like a Commie.

So I won’t write about politics.

But I will write about Donald Trump.

I have friends, smart ones, who like Trump and are with him all the way, assuming that this phenomenon turns out not to be relatively fleeting. I understand the appeal of the outsider, and sometimes the man says things I agree with, at least vaguely. He really is the least conservative conservative I’ve ever seen. How he’s been embraced, it seems to me, has more to do with disgust for Washington, D.C., than any endorsement of his policies. He doesn’t seem to have any policies that I can see, beyond having issues with illegal immigrants.

So this isn’t political. These are just two observations about Mr. Trump.

First, I keep hearing commentators in the media say again and again that they’ve never seen anything like the Donald Trump phenomenon. Well, I have. So have they, or at least they’ve read about it, if they’d think past last Tuesday.

Trump and his cult of personality are straight out of the Huey Long playbook. Yes, we have seen this kind of phenomenon in politics before. So has Europe. They had one guy who made the trains run on time, and another who had an ethnic group he turned into national bad guys. I don’t equate the Donald with the implied names of that last sentence, but the phenomenon is similar. It’s of that stripe. And if he were actually elected and able to do the things he says he wants to do, and claims he can do, he’ll have to become dictator.

But the real reason I’m writing an update on this subject is this: for weeks, Trump has been reminding me of somebody. Reminding me very much of somebody, and I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Then it came to me: Tony Clifton.

Tony Clifton

Tony Clifton, the jaw-jutting lounge act blowhard who struts and spews nonsense, thanks to his creator Andy Kaufman. Watch Donald strut cluelessly through the Alabama crowd (“How many of you have a Mercedes?”), and wonder if this isn’t yet another brilliant comic creation of someone who left us too soon, a 21st Century reality TV variation on the sublime Tony Clifton.

So my question is this: is that you, Andy? Is that you under there?

* * *

Here’s a review of the BATMAN: SECONDS CHANCES collection – pretty positive.


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4 Responses to “Two Non-Political Observations On Donald Trump”

  1. Jonathan Sweet says:

    Oh my god, I think you’ve solved it!

  2. Mike Doran says:

    I don’t think Tony Clifton is the answer.

    That would indicate that Donald Trump has a sense of humor, which he has plainly shown he hasn’t.

    I mean, there he is with his beady little eyes and his dead fish mouth and his Fiberglas hair and his expired-butterscotch complexion – when he leaves the house each day, he actually thinks he looks good.

    When I was growing up (or at least growing older) here in Chicago, I was regularly exposed to Lar “America First!” Daly, who would emerge from his lair in his Uncle Sam suit and run for whatever was the top available office that year.
    Old Lar was never more than a local joke, and everybody knew it.
    Deep down, he knew it too. I don’t recall that he ever took himself as seriously as the Dumptruck does.
    Even when Lar bluffed his way on to Jack Paar’s TONIGHT, I sensed that he was having his own laugh at NBC and Paar for giving him national air time. Before that, nobody knew about the FCC’s equal time rule; I’d guess that Lar Daly was the most surprised person around when NBC actually let him on with Paar.

    I know that I’m probably taking this too seriously – but so is Trump.
    He won’t win anything, of course – he’d have to get through the organized Republican Party, and a press corps that won’t be anywhere near as adoring as the FoxNews troops (Trump can’t even take Megyn Kelly, for God’s sake), and something called the Electoral College … any or all of these would send him into a raving psychotic break, sooner rather than later.

    Apologies for the speech, but this forthcoming Presidential contest has become a steaming toxic mess in record time.
    When I was retired, somehow I wasn’t counting on that …

    Please come soon to C&S, Max (bring the whole family if you wish).
    I have many of your latest books awaiting your autograph.

  3. Tom Zappe/St Louis says:

    I cannot believe that the donald is seriously interested in becoming president. I believe he enjoys stirring up a ruckus and putting himself in the position of Kingmaker and generally drawing attention to himself since his TV show had pretty much run it’s course, but actually being president would mean he would have to put all his financial holdings in a blind trust. Hence, I cannot believe that the donald is seriously interested in becoming president.

  4. Max Allan Collins says:

    Thanks for these comments, and my apologies for getting somewhat political.

    Mike, Barb and I will eventually come to Centuries and Sleuths again, but not till a new book is out. We are doing almost no bookstore appearances these days, but will go to C & S as long as Augie will have us.