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Episode Recap of the Season Finale of the Donald Trump Show
The two leads finally confront each other
Last night I rolled into Vegas on the last night of a two week road trip moving my daughter to Brooklyn to start her life. I would have driven straight through to LA but I wanted to watch the debate. So I got one last hotel room for the night, cracked open a beer and put on the show. This is unmistakably playing out like a reality show. It makes sense, considering “reality TV” has been around so long no one even marvels at the name of the genre. We just accept it that it’s called “reality TV.” American Idol is mostly done for. The Kardashians are closing down shop. Trump has a new show called Presidential Apprentice. Have you been watching it?
The GOP gambled big on Trump. There wasn’t much they could do about him. He is a charismatic celebrity with no filter who goes for the jugular to reveal the weaknesses of his opponents. He says out loud what many think but are too decent to say. What is shocking about him is often how he can find the exact vulnerability in a person and poke it right there. This worked especially well in the Republican primary where he knocked them off one by one.
It was a little harder with Hillary but he pulled out the stops, working on three main groups to suppress the vote: young feminists who are now mad at Bill Clinton and by extension, Hillary. Black men who only needed to be reminded of ‘superpredator.’ And Bernie supporters who were hopeless and angry that (they believed) the DNC had cheated Bernie out of the nomination. Their strategy in the swing states was to flood those three groups, with the courtesy of Facebook’s psychographic profiling, with negative ads to keep them home on Election Day. No one thought the election was going to be close, by 70,000 votes. Some of us were worried but most weren’t. Complacency meant a lot of people simply stayed home, figuring their vote wouldn’t make a difference.
The GOP got someone who filled Federal judge positions and now it looks like he’ll put three justices on the Supreme Court. That is a hefty price tag for 70,000 votes. He is also on the side of the GOP on regulations, taxes and immigration. If the election were about these policies any GOP candidate could roll over the Democrats in 2020, with the chaos they’ve brought to the streets, the authoritarian rule they threaten with their Woke dogma and their increasingly bizarre beat downs on Twitter to people whose opinion differs from theirs. Jobs are threatened. Platforms are erased all in the name of racism, transphobia, etc. Any Ronald Reagan type could win in a landslide, which is why Trump is still competitive even right now. If the left was to be believed Trump’s approvals should be in the low 30s.
The debate was a horrid mess. Trump came out swinging and would not allow either the moderator or Biden to finish a sentence let alone make a point. Trump was trying to rattle Biden but he ended up only rattling the moderator Chris Wallace. He hurled nasty and cruel invective at Biden but Biden is a seasoned politician. Trump could not rattle him, not like Kamala Harris had during the primary debates when someone he thought was a friend sideswiped him. But hey, all appears to be forgotten on that front.
It’s hard to imagine this is truly a miserable experience for anyone covering it. The cable news hosts on both sides seemed almost giddy. The reality TV villain has delivered what promises to be a highly rated debate - and for those who didn’t watch they will have heard so much about this episode that they’ll definitely tune in on repeat and make sure to watch the next one. Everyone loves a good villain.
A few half-hearted attempts popped up on Twitter that sadly lamented, “the real losers were the American people.” But it’s hard to buy that considering every word from Trump, every appearance, everything he wears, everyone he knows, everything he does is tracked and paid attention to, mocked and shamed. It is big business too. MSNBC was rescued with Trump, so was Twitter. CNN has become like MSNBC so you gotta figure their ratings depend on the Trump show too.
One thing we’ve learned from Reality TV is that hate builds empires. Kim Kardashian was hated, then watched and hated, then watched and hated and watched and eventually, as her empire grew she might still be hated but her power shouted the haters down. Villains can be destroyed or they can repair their image and find fame anyway. The more Trump is hated, the more he is watched, the more he is reported on, the more people are aware of him.
One of the biggest problems is that the “resistance” is treating the symptom and not the root cause. Attacking Trump is easy. Put Biden in as a stop gap measure and calm things down and then regroup. But the Democrats have not figured out who they are, what they want and what they’re fighting for. They can’t even agree on healthcare, student loans, minimum wage, how to handle the climate. There are no leaders other than Obama and Biden’s administration, Bernie Sanders and AOC. Maybe Andrew Yang and Beto O’Rourke or Pete Buttigieg might be those leaders but for now we can only push Harris in 2024 if Biden wins. If she doesn’t win, then it tips back to the GOP for the foreseeable future. They are mostly on the same page about what they want - give or take the Freedom Caucus, the Tea Party and the Trumpers.
It isn’t enough for Democrats to give voters the option of removing Trump. They have to be clear on what they’re promising to replace him with. And I’m not sure even they know because it is still a divided party. “Trump is bad” is only to go so far.
Of course the majority of Americans probably don’t watch the show. They are worried about putting their lives back together and having a future. They’ve long since decided whom they’re voting for and no debate is going to change their minds. But the Trump show is big business and many enterprises depend on it and to make it churn they need audience engagement.
The Season finale of the Trump Show ends on November 3. We don’t know yet if it will be the series finale, where the villain who keeps everyone tuned in will be scrapped. The nice guy cast instead never works out that well for the show. The ratings usually tank and the producers flail around in desperation to find a bad guy or an evil woman to push in the previews for the next season. If there is one thing producers of successful reality programming knows: having a good villain makes or breaks the show.