He questioned the president’s birth
To help the president make clear
That he was not born elsewhere on earth
But was born here.
He who said "my Vietnam" was avoiding STDs
Now knows more than the generals about ISIS,
Is rough on refugees,
Thinks we’re in an economic crisis,
Is open to nuclearizing Japan, South Korea,
Would charge our allies rent
For our military support,
Put another Scalia
On the Supreme Court,
And says unemployment is at 42 percent,
Counting homeless on food stamps,
Buddy and Sis and Grandma and Gramps.
And he insists that crime in his hometown
The police say it’s gone down.
Fewer people going to prison.
Crime in New York is in a slump.
Try telling that to Mr. Trump.
We in the fiction business are thinking this could’ve been our year to take a run at the presidency. It isn’t just for policy wonks anymore. We were wrong, thinking you had to have been one of those eager beavers whose hands shot up in civics class and who knew about the separation of powers and how the Electoral College worked, but no, all it takes is total confidence in your own superior intelligence and the ability to insist, for example, that China bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941 and stick to it even when your classmates show you books with pictures of Japanese bombers strafing the battleship Arizona, you say, "They were Chinese pilots flying Japanese planes. I know Asians. I’ve been to Chinese restaurants. Those are Chinese."
I remember when politicians were held to a higher standard. Dan Quayle was severely penalized for misspelling "potato" but that was 24 years ago, another era. Donald Trump could spell it p-i-m-e-n-t-o and stand his ground and his people would back him up and attack the potato people as elitist and tuberous and the tempest would rage for a week or two, meanwhile Mr. Trump would shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and explain that he did it to keep the guy from being hit by a bus.
Mr. Trump’s insistence that his five years of accusing President Obama of falsifying his birthplace was simply meant to clarify the matter and in the end turned out to be a favor to Mr. Obama is so invincibly stupid, it’s right out of a Carl Hiaasen novel about lowlife redneck dopeheads in south Florida. By this standard, Jesse James robbed banks so as to inspire greater alertness among bank guards and Boss Tweed let dead men vote as a way of keeping their memories alive and Guy Fawkes put the barrels of dynamite in the cellars of Parliament only to keep them out of the hands of children. When Salome danced for Herod and said, "I want to get ahead," she was referring to becoming a choreographer, not to decapitation. When Joe McCarthy went after those old lefties in the Fifties, it was meant as a gift: he knew it would make them heroes among the intelligentsia.
This is so lame.
When you want to close the door on a particularly stupid thing you’ve done, you don’t tell another pants-around-your-ankles lie — that will only prolong the stupidity. In America, there is a simple way to deal with it. You confess your dependence upon alcohol or cocaine or sugar snacks and you go into treatment and come out cleansed, your sins forgiven. It’s not hard. Spend a week, hold a news conference, write a book. "The Art of Dealing With Addiction." You, a multibillionaire, were doing 37 Big Macs at a sitting. That’s why the private plane. So you could pig out. Your arteries were clogged with animal fats and that led you to retail a despicable lie about the president. You’re clean now. A new Don for America.
If you admire a good story, fine, but why hire an amateur like Trump? Why not J.K. Rowling, who gave us Harry Potter? This would get millions of young people interested in politics, which could use some wizards and special effects, Supreme Court justices flying through the air, robes fluttering.
Yes, she was born in Gloucestershire, but there are ways around it. She could have been carried away from Omaha by gypsies. Pirates. Syrian terrorists. Take your pick. Her mother might be Ginger Rogers, who was in England entertaining the troops. Any capable fiction writer could make J.K. Rowling an American. Even I could do it.
Garrison Keillor is an author and radio personality.