In lieu of substantive policy changes, the first 100 days of President Donald Trump's reign have been a carnival of public relations misfires, self-defeating liberal media stunts, self-defeating alt-right media stunts, and missile strikes on empty airbases.
As awful as it is that half of our country elected an extremely dumb reality star to the highest office in the land, this does ease some of the residual pain from the election. After all, the last time we had a President Clinton and a GOP-controlled legislature, the GOP gutted welfare and ramped up the inadvisable War on Drugs.
If the alternative to that is four years of infighting, unintentional comedy, and the status quo, we should consider ourselves lucky. Here are my favorite things that have happened so far.
Jan. 20: Donald J. Trump, the Apprentice guy, is inaugurated as President of the United States of America
Wait, what? Really? Donald Trump, the Apprentice guy?
Jan. 20: White nationalist Richard Spencer achieves peak relevance after being punched in the face on camera during inauguration protests
“What is your little frog?” the reporter asks, pointing to Spencer’s lapel pin. His mood lifts as he attempts to answer his first easy interview question of the day: “It’s Pepe. He’s become kind of a symbol —” Before Spencer could explain in sufficient detail why he chooses to adorn himself with a physical representation of a nine-year-old 4chan meme, a man in a black hoodie ran up behind him, socked him in the chin and darted across the street before he could be identified. The footage immediately spread among his opponents on the fired-up anti-Trump left. The resulting explosion of memes brought Spencer’s humiliation to publications as far-reaching as The New York Times, CNN, Pitchfork and Kotaku. The protracted argument on the ethics of violence that followed nearly overshadowed its genesis, but for a few brief hours, the internet was unified in its pursuit of much-needed catharsis.
Feb. 1: Donald Trump thinks Frederick Douglass is still alive
“Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.”
Feb. 10: Jonathan Chait capes for Betsy DeVos
New York magazine’s Chait, having not humiliated himself thoroughly enough by publishing a tribute to Obama’s progressive legacy days before Donald Trump assumed office, decided to show his hand and ask why poor Betsy DeVos, the daughter-in-law of a billionaire and sister of a professional mercenary, gets such a bad rap. “If I had a vote in the Senate, I would have opposed the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Education secretary,” Chait wrote. Well, he doesn’t have a vote in the Senate, so he can only agitate for school privatization through transparent concern trolling. His rhetorical strategy, then, is to ask why Democrats are so upset about the least bad cabinet nominee. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
Feb. 18: Middle schoolers pelt Trump’s motorcade with two-by-fours
Feb. 20: Dimwitted provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos loses career overnight after defending pedophilia
It was always a bit strange that a flamboyantly gay Englishman was able to make such inroads with the American far right. This contradiction eventually resolved itself when, in response to his invite to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, a group of conservative Christians publicized a video from 2015 of Yiannopoulos defending adult men who have sex with 13-year-old boys. Apparently, his racism, sexism, Islamophobia, and transphobia weren’t enough to offend the Christian right, but a defense of pederasty was. Yiannopoulos was disinvited from CPAC, his book was cancelled by Simon & Schuster, and Breitbart colleagues at threatened to resign en masse if he didn’t leave. Good riddance.
Feb. 28: Kellyanne Conway puts her feet on the Oval Office couch
When I first saw the picture of Kellyanne Conway with her feet on the couch, I thought her feet were actually inside her skirt. Like, she did some kind of maneuver to tuck them in so she wouldn’t get dirt on the couch. I laughed for half an hour at the visual of her falling off the couch and writhing around on her kneecaps while she struggled to get her feet unstuck. Upon further inspection, it appears that the extra skirt fabric is just folded in on itself, creating the illusion that her feet are stuck in the skirt.
March 12: JonTron from YouTube becomes a Nazi for some reason
The last two or three years have seen twin plagues thrust upon the internet: the rise of the “alt-right” and its semi-legitimization in the political mainstream — and the burgeoning guys-screaming-at-Minecraft industry. The beneficiaries of the latter are essentially living the dream of every eight-year-old boy: playing video games for a living and getting paid exceptionally well to do so. At the same time, Trump’s victory and his strange popularity among socially-awkward gamer types has convinced many of these men that being racist is no longer frowned upon by society at large. However it is, in fact, still frowned upon, as YouTube star Jon “JonTron” Jafari found out when he tweeted in support of Rep. Steve King’s blatantly racist comments about “restoring civilization with someone else’s babies.” A fellow streamer invited him to a friendly debate, where he unleashed a tirade about black criminality and white birthrates. In response, Jafari’s contributions to the video game Yooka-Laylee, in which a chameleon and a bat explore magical books, released earlier this month, were removed from the final product. He has not uploaded a video since.
March 13: Trump torments Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with excruciatingly long handshake
Nineteen seconds. That’s how long he held onto that poor man’s hand. Look at the way he gently pats the top of his hand like he’s promising his son he won’t spend their next supervised weekend watching Pawn Stars hung over. Donald Trump believes handshakes are an opportunity to show dominance, and that the best way to show dominance is to appear senile and afflicted with brain worms.
March 14: Rachel Maddow plays into Trump’s hand by leaking innocuous tax returns from 2005
If anyone was still convinced that the “resistance” posturing of the mainstream media was anything but a marketing technique, Rachel Maddow put that conceit to rest when she spent an entire hour teasing out the lamest scoop of the year. The big bombshell was that Trump paid an effective tax rate of 25 percent in 2005, an innocuous factoid the White House was only too happy to reveal themselves before Maddow got the chance. As a result, the headlines became “White House releases Trump tax returns,” implying benevolence on their part and displacing a rash of articles on the unpopular Republican health care bill. When Maddow did get her own headlines, they read more like “Rachel Maddow Turned a Scoop on Donald Trump’s Taxes Into a Cynical, Self-Defeating Spectacle.” The next day, her ratings were down 36 percent.
March 17: Conspiracy theorist Louise Mensch gets a byline in The New York Times
Louise Mensch is the embodiment of modern liberal psychosis. A former British Conservative MP, she first rose to wider public consciousness in 2011 when, as a member of the parliamentary committee questioning Rupert Murdoch about the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, papers noticed her “striking looks and her loquacious rhetoric.” She now runs Heat Street, a subsidiary of Murdoch’s News Corp. that covers “culture wars” from a right-wing perspective. A figure this plainly reactionary would normally be rejected by the liberal draft, but the hysteria over Russian involvement in the 2016 election produced some very strange bedfellows. In February, she was a guest on MSNBC and James Wolcott wrote in Vanity Fair that she was was an “essential Twitter feed for keeping up with Trump and Russia.” MSNBC’s Joy Reid praised Mensch for her March appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher. And in March, she achieved complete normalization by writing a disjointed op-ed on Russia for The New York Times, which earned her praise from figures like Rep. Ted Lieu and former Democratic National Committee chair Donna Brazile.
Not a month later, these same figures were silent on the subject of Mensch’s credibility. Despite copious evidence going back years that her “journalism” rests on baseless speculation, it took the liberal intelligentsia until April to realize she might be untrustworthy. On April 9, Mensch tweeted that the unrest in Ferguson, the catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement, was a Russian psyop. Joy Ann Reid replied: “This is what’s called wading out of your depth. Seriously, stop.”
March 23: Trump gets to be a big boy in a big boy truck
Look at this big, happy boy. What a treat it was for him to sit in that big truck and honk the horn. Everyone was so proud of him for being a big boy. The fake news thought he wasn’t a big enough boy to honk the horn on a big boy truck, but he proved them all wrong.
March 31: Trump does a photo op for an executive order but forgets to actually sign it
Watch as Mike Pence has to run after him. Obama never had moments like this. Even under Bush, it was every six months or so. With Trump, we get to experience this sense of childlike joy and adultlike worry that comes with knowing the president has brain lesions every few days.
April 11: Sean Spicer calls concentration camps “Holocaust centers”
Never before has a White House press secretary been so wonderfully inept. After falsely claiming that Hitler never used chemical weapons in an April 11 press conference, Spicer corrected himself by saying that Hitler never used them on his own people, which is somehow even more false. He continued by saying that Hitler brought the victims of his mass genocide to “the Holocaust centers.” The Holocaust centers. Where they did the Holocaust. In wrought-iron lettering on the gate of Auschwitz: Holocaust Center.
April 12: Donald Trump forgets which country he just bombed
“We had finished dinner, we’re now having dessert, and we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen, and President Xi was enjoying it. So what I said was, we just launched 59 missiles heading to Iraq...”
Interviewer Maria Bartiromo interjected: “Headed to Syria.” “Yes... heading toward Syria.” Trump’s compulsion to brag about every noun that exits his lips and his failure to remember the most important aspects of his job, when delivered together with his signature faux-gravitas... it’s fantastic. No president has ever been this funny before, and no president will ever be this funny again. Comedy is obsolete. Enjoy it while it lasts.