Is it too early to wax nostalgic about the hilarity of the Trump years? Could Trump somehow — somehow — find a way to keep the joke running for another four years?
Cockburn knows only one thing about Trump’s presidency for sure: he has never laughed so much in his life. He howled at Trump’s cock-ups, grinned at Trump’s triumphs, sat chuckling to himself through endless how-does-the-Orange-Man-dare lunch conversations.
The presidency — that arrogant, imperial, deluxe seat, warmed for so long by blowhards and bores — was the biggest, juiciest target around for an ambitious American comic. Bursting through a hole in reality, Trump took the office and dunked it on its bloated head.
As his first draft of history, Cockburn offers a personal selection of the funniest moments from this singular presidency:
The beginning of the end of the world
When Trump was elected, in certain circles, the sky caved in. You only had to open a prestige publication, or peek through a prestige publication’s online paywalls, to understand this. Don’s ascension was the End of the Republic. The rhetorical bar was set stratospherically high — and stayed high till the finish. The whiff in the air, smoky and devilish, was Hitlerian. Fascism had come to America. So what was Trump doing in November 2016? Making lists of enemies? Preparing his very own enabling act? Marshaling his black-uniformed boot boys?
He was bitchily tweeting at the cast of Hamilton, for being rude to Mike Pence.
You had to laugh.
The last word
It would be very easy for Cockburn to point out that the President tweeted out the nonsense word Covfefe in the early days of his presidency.
What was more surreal and more brilliant was that, after an avalanche of comment, and millions, nay, billions of tweets about this incident, Trump — impossibly — had the last word on it.
Who can figure out the true meaning of "covfefe" ??? Enjoy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2017
Trump’s first solo press conference as the world’s most powerful television addict was always going to be special. When he wasn’t playing the media like a fiddle, he was expanding into new areas of expertise, like nuclear science.
Donald Trump on the subject of Uranium will always be my favourite press conference of the last four years, absolute gold pic.twitter.com/uPJ96yx4Ty
— Alan White (@aljwhite) November 7, 2020
Walk like an Egyptian
The President’s first foreign visit would be to the Middle East. In the years that followed, several historic diplomatic breakthroughs between various Gulf states and Israel were made, though the ultimate comedy of being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize eluded Trump (imagine that speech).
How were these deals brokered? Cockburn sees their genesis in that staple of diplomacy: attention to detail. Seated and hunched at one of those dumb flags ’n’ flowers shoots for tired agency photographers, our chief smiled for the cameras next to Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The general ventured a few compliments — Trump was, err, umm, unique, a personality, a chip off the old block, et cetera. Bland. Trump knows how to compliment — make it personal. As the press left the room, he turned to al-Sisi and said:
‘Love your shoes. Boy, those shoes. Man…’
No wonder Van Jones cried with happiness when Trump lost.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2017
Make it rain
In Japanese culture, Koi carp (錦鯉) are associated with strength and perseverance. The Japanese respect Koi, perhaps more than any other kind of fish. But what is respect compared to a feed?
President Trump feeds fish with PM Shinzo Abe in Japan, then pours the entire box of food into the koi pond. pic.twitter.com/CQjGGf5k0J
— Veronica Rocha (@VeronicaRochaLA) November 6, 2017
Nice, handsome and fat
It’s worth bearing in mind that North Korea’s Supreme, and supremely well-lunched, Leader Kim Jong-un once fed his uncle to a pack of hungry dogs. He’s a killer. He’s done some work in his time. Still, he’d clearly never met an operator like the 45th pres. Don’t question Cockburn, just look at Kim’s face when this happened:
— Fiona Adorno 💙 (@FionaAdorno) June 12, 2018
And not a drop to drink
How wet was Hurricane Florence? Asking for a friend.
Please never come for anyone else’s intelligence ever again!
“One of the wettest we’ve ever seen from the standpoint of water”pic.twitter.com/xsdBWSbjwW
— Ryan Hill (@RyanHillMI) May 24, 2019
Speaking of hurricanes
Much like trump manipulating the hurricane Dorian projection chart with HIS Sharpie pic.twitter.com/pxGXVpAvC0
— Web (@RWWebber) September 29, 2020
Christmas eve, 2018. Donald Trump is calling a small child somewhere in America. Colman Lloyd (7 years of age) answers. He asks the President about the infrastructure bill — kidding! Trump actually had a question for Colman.
‘Are you still a believer in Santa? Because at seven, it’s marginal, right?’
Power Level 1000
Medical advice is clear regarding eclipses: do not stare directly at them. That’s advice for human beings though. Trump is many evolutionary cycles ahead of the average man. Hence his ability to look at an eclipse with barely a flinch.
I know farms
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2018
The rules of attraction
What do the Boy Scouts of America really need to know? There are only so many knots you can learn about. MY president taught them something men, particularly the feeble and retiring among them, may take decades trying to learn: how to get off with babes. Trump explained.
He began by talking about William Levitt (???) a friend (maybe) from the President’s days in Manhattan real estate. Cockburn cannot improve this speech, so he’s cutting to the transcript:
‘I’ll tell you a story that’s very interesting for me. When I was young there was a man named William Levitt. You have some here. You have some in different states. Anybody ever hear of Levittown…and he was a very successful man, became unbelievable — he was a home builder, became an unbelievable success, and got more and more successful…his is a long time ago. Sold his company for a tremendous amount of money…and he went out and bought a big yacht, and he had a very interesting life. I won’t go any more than that, because you’re Boy Scouts so I’m not going to tell you what he did… [CROWD CHANTS] Should I tell you? Should I tell you… [APPLAUSE, SEVERAL MOTHERS IN THE AUDIENCE COMBUST] You’re Boy Scouts, but you know life. You know life…’
Invest in yachts, kids!
I’ll take a Greenland to go, no fries
The President floated (the actually very old) idea that the United States purchase Greenland last year. It is still hard to understand why the Danish government was so reluctant to come to the negotiating table.
I promise not to do this to Greenland! pic.twitter.com/03DdyVU6HA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2019
Dig for victory
Still one of the funniest moments of the entire Trump Presidency…. like honestly what the fuck lmao pic.twitter.com/J6awiTUUXb
— Forrest Miller (@AlwaysFlacko) November 24, 2020
The ulti-mutt accolade
Joe Biden talked a lot about his love for dogs during the campaign, but did he ever award one the nation’s highest military honor?
AMERICAN HERO! pic.twitter.com/XCCa2sGfsZ
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2019
The kitchen staff were furloughed. The government was in crisis. The Eleanor Roosevelt silver service was covered in Big Macs. The pictures were unreal.
'We have some very large people that like eating': Donald Trump orders fast food smorgasbord for 2018 national champions Clemson pic.twitter.com/WAIPIAxQ9U
— The Independent (@Independent) January 15, 2019
Hic incipit pestis!
Picking out favorite Trump tweets is an art, not a science. There was no real way of telling which would set you off. When Cockburn was enjoying his lockdown, surrounded by tinned fish and freshly purchased ammunition, preparing for the end of civilization itself, he scrolled down his feed and saw this one. There was something inexplicably funny about the use of parentheses that Cockburn still doesn’t fully understand.
Doing REALLY well, medically, on solving the CoronaVirus situation (Plague!). It will happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 17, 2020
‘And those who were seen to be dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.’ Cockburn is fairly sure that Nietzsche wrote that, but he is quite hungover right now.
Can you hear the music? Millions of Americans can.