Thursday, August 23, 2018

If Al Bundy were President

Basically, your love or hate for Donald Trump comes down to whether you loved or hated the old Fox sitcom, Married with Children.  At its center was Al Bundy, a struggling shoe salesman trying to keep his high-maintenance family fed.  It could have been set anywhere, but the creators decided to put Al in the suburbs of Chicago.  It was a big hit, had a devoted following, and ran for 11 seasons.

The show was purposefully over the top.  Al always wore that contorted look as if battling hemorrhoids.  The highlight of his dismal life was going to the local strip club, where he would tie a dollar bill on the end of string to lure the dancers over to his end of the runway.  You never really knew whether he had any feelings for his wife or teenage kids, not that it mattered since poor Al lamented everything.  He was the quintessential loser, personifying a large cross section of frustrated men across the country.

Donald seized on that image during the campaign.  He loved playing the underdog, relishing each and every unexpected win in the primaries until he had garnered so many delegates that Republicans were stuck with him whether they liked it or not.  He developed a devoted base that has stayed with him through the first two years of his administration.

However, there has been some discord among the ranks, notably Joe Walsh, an ardent early supporter who now rails against Trump every chance he gets on his conservative talk show.  Before you start following Joe, you must be made aware this is the same guy who got punked by Sasha Baron Cohen on the first episode of Who is America?  Seems Joe isn't very smart.  You might say he is Jefferson D'Arcy to Trump's Al Bundy.

This helps explain why Trump is so popular among the Fox conservative audience.  Trump is essentially what Al Bundy would be like if he was a billionaire and President of the United States.  The only difference is that Trump went through several wives, whereas Al stuck with Peg through thick and thin, but then if Al had all that money and power he would have probably dumped Peg as well, and ran off with one of the strippers.

One of the things I've always found odd about Trump is his selection of women.  This is a guy who had unparalleled wealth and influence yet has had a strange array of relationships that one would regard as beneath a man of this stature.  Ivana was a young Czech immigrant when she met Donnie at a fashion show in New York in the mid-70s.  They didn't make for a particularly dashing couple as their wedding pictures attest to.  But, Donnie claims to have adored her in his best-selling business book of all time, The Art of the Deal, even if he was soon flirting with other women in Atlantic City, namely Marla Maples.

Trump was after glamor but seemed to strike out when it came to leading ladies.  At one time or another he made passes at Kathleen Turner, Helen Mirren and a host of others, yet there was something so smarmy about him that they all rejected him.  Kathleen Turner recently described his gross handshake.  When Al Bundy dumbly stares off into space, it's like he is imagining himself as Donald Trump. This is something he would do if confronting such glamorous actresses.

Like Al, Trump loves strip clubs.  One of his favorites was Scores, which Howard Stern made famous on his syndicated radio show.  Trump even had his personal Scores inside his infamous Taj Mahal on the boardwalk of Atlantic City.  Surprised he hasn't installed one in the White House, as Al would no doubt have done if he had ascended to the highest office in the land.

Trump was a regular on Stern's ribald talk show, engaging in the sexist banter the "Fartman" was famous for.  Nothing was beneath the Trumpster.  Ultimately, this is what endeared Donald to the same audience that loved Al Bundy.  Trump may have been a billionaire, but he was the people's billionaire, the sum of all their lowly aspirations.

Trump played these idle fascinations out in real time.  The women were easy marks, good in bed, and gave him five children derived from an interesting gene pool.  Hard to square Ivanka with this clan but then you never know what you are going to get with all those repressed x and y chromosomes.  She must have inherited some long dormant Aryan features to turn out to be such a ravishing beauty.

Donnie has developed an unusual bond with her, as Omarosa recently pointed out.  Ivanka is the glamour girl he had always been looking for in his wife so no surprise he pretty much said this in a cringeworthy interview on The View during the campaign.  At least Al had some boundaries.  I don't recall him ever hitting on his daughter Kelly.  However, you get the sense that Ivanka, like Kelly, isn't all that comfortable with the Trump name, but has to gut it out like she did on The View.

Trump is accessible if nothing else.  These admissions come so unexpectedly that you don't know quite how to respond, as was the case on The View.  Smartly, he very quickly moves on so that you don't have time to dwell on it.  Al was good that way too.

As for his two eldest sons, they more or less come across as versions of Bud, equally dumb and prone to the same stupid mistakes.  We can only hope that Barron emerges as the smart one, restoring honor to the family name.

Tiffany is the forgotten child, as if Al had an affair at some point and this girl pitched up one day to say she was his daughter. Trump doesn't seem to have much attachment to her. He rarely mentions her. Not surprising since they had very little contact with each other.  Probably just as well, given how he acts around Ivanka.  Maybe Tiffany will have a chance to lead a relatively normal life.

So, here we are having to deal with a president who is even more a caricature than Al Bundy, drifting off into puerile fantasies of how he would rule the world.  The only problem is that we have to deal with these fantasies.  His advisers have to clean up the many messes he leaves behind or try to gloss over them, which is usually the case.  This is what happens when life imitates bad television.

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