Man oh man, I would not want to be Donald Trump right now.
In fact, there’s no point in history where any sane person would want to be Donald Trump, but even if you were seized by a perverse desire to become a fat orange rapist with an easy-punchline hairdo grappling futilly with senility, this would still not be the week to try it.
In much the same way that Al Capone was sent down for tax evasion – or in the same way that Jerry Lee Lewis’ marriage to his 13-year-old cousin was only illegal because his previous marriage had not been anulled – the actual legal reason for the downfall of a monster is often surprising. Trump weathered inumerable storms that would have ruined the lives of basically any other human being in the public eye. He survived bankruptcies, obvious financial crimes, multiple allegations of rape and sexual assault, the kind of casually racist musings that would make Hulk Hogan blush… nothing seemed to stick to Trump.
Right up until it did.
Trump’s attempt to extort the President of the Ukraine by witholding aid money until the Ukraine found some dirt on Joe Biden and family is looking like the straw that broke the camel’s back. Democrats have begun seriously pushing for impeachment.
Trump has made some lame attempts to start a conspiracy theory about Joe Biden’s son – implying that Hunter Biden might have been involved in shady Ukrainian dealings – but as Trump’s own sons are balls deep in their father’s crooked empire it’s a glass house so fragile that even Trump Snr. can’t really throw stones with any malice.
Anyway, even if Hunter Biden were guilty of a crime, that doesn’t allow the President of one country to withold aid from another in exchange for dirt on electoral rivals. At all. Ever.
Trump is in deep trouble.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also running out of road. American readers may not understand this, but a while back a wannabe political strongman with silly hair and a history of racism gained support as a man of the people despite his privileged background and ultimately ended up in charge of the country without having won the popular vote.
Which should put paid to anyone who keeps bitching about lazy American remakes of British ideas, if nothing else.
Boris Johnson, at the time of writing, is in a similar position to Trump – embattled and definitely a criminal, but not yet thrown out of office or in jail. Unlike Trump, it’s not precisely clear what’s going to finish BoJo off quite yet. He’s like a man teetering frantically at the top of a ladder, pinwheeling his arms as everyone on the ground takes bets on where he will land. Will he crash through the greenhouse of his own financial improprieties? Will he thud painfully into the lawn of his murky sex life? Or just plummet through the roof of his illegal suspension of parliament?
For those who need a recap, in the last few weeks, exhausted, joyless and inept Prime Minister Theresa May stood down after a disastrous term as PM and numerous failed attempts to implement the Brexit vote. She was then taken around to the back of the houses of parliament and finally put out of her misery with a bolt gun. I assume.
This meant that the job of Prime Minister would be decided by the Conservative Party, membership of which represents .02% of elligible British voters. The Conservatives settled on Alexander Boris De Pfeiffel Johnson, because a man with that name was somehow considered to have the common touch. Or, more importantly, a man with that name was willing to force through a hard “no deal” Brexit which would see Britain leave the EU on Halloween and (entirely coincidentally) make a fortune on the stock market for the bankers and financiers who backed him.
In an attempt to stop a No Deal Brexit, parliament began putting legal measures in place, so Johnson decided to ask the Queen to “prorogue” Parliament, essentially dissolving it for a couple of weeks so that no government work could be done at all. This meant that by the time Parliament was reconvened, there wouldn’t be much time to avoid a No Deal Brexit which – ENTIRELY COINCIDENTALLY – is worth billions to shady stock market traders who can short the pound.
Crucially, Boris is said to have convinced the Queen to do this by insisting that it was something to do with having time for Her Majesty to reflect on the political situation, blah blah, yadda yadda, insert obvious lie here. Hearteningly, the British constitution then creaked into life and the Supreme Court decided that Boris’ prorogation of Parliament was illegal. With one bang of their gavel, they reconvened Parliament, dragged everyone back to work and in the process, made it obvious that Boris was a liar.
Boris and his allies are now accusing the Supreme Court of interfering with the Brexit process, despite the fact that Boris claimed proroguing parliament was NOT about Brexit in the first place. What this means is that Boris Johnson very clearly lied to and knowingly misled the Queen – technically a treasonous offence, which would theoretically have been punishable by execution until 1998 when, in a grand irony, the European Court outlawed capital punishment.
Boris lied to the Queen, but he also seems to have lied to the Supreme Court, meaning he’s guilty of treason and perjury. Things only got worse from there, as the notoriously unfaithful Johnson’s “friendship” with a buxom blonde American woman named Jennifer Arcuri was investigated and seems to have turned up evidence that, during his tenure as Mayor of London, Boris gave her some suspicious business loans from public funds. So that’s treason, perjury, and embezzelment all hanging over him at the time of writing.
Faced with such insurmountable odds, Johnson has decided to go for broke and show his true colours, like a Scooby Doo villain who has been unmasked to show he was the person you’d assumed he was all along. He has refused to back down, apologise or explain himself.
His advisor Dominic Cummings, meanwhile, a sort of Dick Cheney figure to Boris’ idiot-in-chief, has said that anti-Brexit politicians who are concerned about getting death threats from the far right should just start supporting the Brexit process.
“Do as we say and you won’t get hurt.” The slogan of all Fascist leaders throughout history.
The wheels are very much coming off the Johnson government, much as they are for the Trump administration. The frustrating thing is that, when the last rotten boards of these temples to narcissism and corruption give way – when the facades finally collapse and lay bare the innards of the whole shabby edifice – we’re going to see what we all knew was there all along.
Consider Boris Johnson. Alexander Boris De Pfeiffel Johnson, who studied at Oxford alongside many other future politicians, has been behaving like a man who doesn’t think that the rules apply to him, precisely because they never have. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that this straight white man from a privileged background who has never been brought to task for his actions – his racism, his corruption, his spiteful, self-aggrandising temprament – turns out not to be fit to lead. He can’t handle the stresses of office without resorting to dictatorial instincts and he throws a tantrum when he doesn’t immediately get what he wants. Because up until now, HE ALWAYS HAS.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump is essentially the same man – child of immense privilege, never told no, racist, sexist, check check check – but is leading an administration that has been a shambles from day one. The Trump White House has been so staggeringly under-staffed (and so ineptly staffed in the few positions that were atually filled) that they literally couldn’t work a light-switch. Trump staff initially worked in the dark because nobody knew how to turn on the White House lights.
Is it any surprise that the Trump administration, when pushed, folded up like a fifth-hand deckchair? After all the hand wringing from people who worried about what would happen if Trump were impeached, the second that impeachment cast a shadow that was even half-way visible, his entire team descended into panicked meltdown.
In the UK, many right wing agitators have warned that if Brexit doesn’t happen, there will be rioting in the streets. In truth, if Brexit doesn’t happen there will be a collective sigh of relief and a few fat old men will complain loudly in pubs to the mild irritation of anyone sat near them. This is the truth of the spectre of the Right – it’s a group of self-centred and deluded old white men who can’t govern and turn tail as soon as their many and obvious crimes are brought to light. Boris’ flailing is proof of that.
What better encouragement could we have to challenge these corrupt blowhards? What better evidence that we only need journalists to report the basic facts for these people to be in deep trouble? What more certainty that anti-corruption laws just need to be enforced for things to work?
The system isn’t as broken as we fear, we’re just so apathetic and cowed that we don’t challenge the bloated, cis-het, white man status quo. And as a result, the fat white men in charge have grown even softer in their complacence. As soon as we fight back, they will beat a tearful and panicked retreat.
All we have to do is begin.