You run out of metaphors to explain Trump. In the shit-hits-the-fan scenario, is Trump the fan, or is he the shit? In the Hitler scenario, is Trump really Hitler, or is he Mussolini’s feckless brother Doug? In the comet-destroys-Earth scenario, is Trump the comet, or is he just a guy on his toilet, tweeting out his reactions to “Fox and Friends”? The thing about history is that when you’re in the middle of it, it’s hard to know what the hell’s going on.
To make sense of things, you must turn to classic ’60s television. There’s a Star Trek episode called “And the Children Shall Lead.” In it, a man who resembles the Trumpster gets children to indulge in homicide. The metaphor works because the Friendly Angel, who controls the children, is also overweight, cheesily transparent, and can’t speak without lying. The kids, like many of Trump’s supporters, are kind of creepy and easily persuaded to commit horrific acts in service to a none-too-bright svengali.
The important lesson in the episode is that the svengali’s malign influence unravels only when it finally dawns on the dopey kids that their leader is the precise opposite of what he pretends to be. As their belief dissipates, so does his power. It’s all right there, folks! “Star Trek” called it in 1968. That’s a comfort, isn’t it? All we need do is wait for these idiot kids to come to their senses. Ryan, Rubio, McConnell: We’re looking at you now. Also, certain pluralities in the greater Midwest. That angel you dig? He’s not really very friendly.
Funny thing about that “Star Trek” episode: I always thought the Friendly Angel was played by Alan Hale, the skipper on “Gilligan’s Island.” Actually it’s Melvin Belli, the flamboyant celebrity lawyer known as “the King of Torts.” If Melvin Belli were still alive, maybe he’d be in Trump’s cabinet. Then again, it’s 2017. Maybe he’d actually be president.