The American Caesar Is Alive And Well

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Timothy Philen Freelance writer
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Away with those measly Mussolini metaphors. Let us finally and fully give Julius Trumpus his due. He hath proven the soothsayers wrong once again.

On the Ides of March, he crossed the “Rubiocon” and killed the lean and thirsty Cassius. He then mortally wounded Brutus. Just for sport, he left Kasichus alive so that he will die a slow, agonizing, and very expensive death — THAT I can tell you!

And, with the Arizona victory under his balteus, there will be no stopping the eccentric emperor and his loyal legions as they march from “Gall” to the convention in Caluvium.

And, thankfully, there’s no end to the metaphor-rich environment this crusading pilgrimage to the nomination has created for op-ed writers and cable news analysts.

But even our best metaphors can fall short.

The analogy to Teflon’s super slippery surface worked well when congresswoman Pat Schroeder coined it to describe the resilient Ronald Reagan, but it’s woefully inadequate in picturing Trump’s ascendency.

The consequences of his thesaurus-emptying litany of bombastic, narcissistic, mendacious, misogynist, racist, nativist, xenophobic, vulgar and vile verbal ejaculations don’t just slide off his non-stick surface. They end up sticking to his detractors, while Trump gathers a larger and larger share of supporters — and delegates — with each passing primary.

No earthly compound from the Dows or DuPonts can describe this phenomenon. That’s why I’m down to running my metaphor detector through the debris field at Roswell, New Mexico, site of the supposed crash of an alien spacecraft in 1947. Air Force intelligence chief Jesse Marcel found large pieces of a material there composed of a substance “that wasn’t any thicker than the foil out of a pack of cigarettes,” yet so strong, Marcel “couldn’t even bend it. You couldn’t dent it. Even a sledgehammer would just bounce off of it…. I don’t know what it was,” he said, but “it was not anything from this Earth.”

And evidently, neither is Donald Trump.

After all, he doesn’t just “defy political gravity.” He’s the master of a special relativity. An electoral-magnetic Einstein in a Newtonian field of rusted wheels and gears and levers. The proverbial man on the platform who observes the speed of light on the passing train, and decides to take the limo instead.

In the process, he has thoroughly confounded and embarrassed the Beltway’s best and brightest for nine months now — reducing even the venerable George Will to re-drawing his line in the sand every week as he desperately lobs his wry volleys at the Trump juggernaut.

And, to borrow from Will’s favorite March metaphor, Mitt Romney not only had the nerve to show up at Spring training after his inexcusable loss of the last World Series, he became the inexplicable choice for designated hitter of the Republican establishment team.

Against Trump pitching, he almost managed to run out a broken bat single, reminding us of that other “sage of Baltimore,” John Lowenstein, the offbeat Oriole who insisted that “They should move first base back a step to eliminate all those close plays.”

As the history of the 2012 election attests, though, Romney’s run wasn’t close enough then either, thanks in large part to an idiotic “47 percent” remark — an insult, of course, that Trump could have made “57 percent” and still gotten a net gain of blue collar Democrats somehow.

That being the case, who in the world can stop him?

Ted Cruz? Unfortunately, in this telegenic age, it’s about perception as much as policy. His mind is by far the most brilliant in the field, but his persona is poison. Those living-dead Joe McCarthy eyes, that strained half-smile reminiscent of holding back flatulence, and the slick speaking style of a former check kiter peddling a pyramid scheme at an airport hotel ballroom in the late seventies are a losing combination.

John Kasich? A good governor and good guy by most accounts, and one neckerchief away from being scoutmaster-in-chief. His down home manner and homemade homilies are heartwarming, and his just-crawled-out-of-the pup-tent hair cowlick is endearing. The truth is, however, he’s a megalomaniac like all the rest because he’s assuring Trump the nomination by staying in the race when he knows that he has no chance.

Hand-wringing Republican royalty, of course, have no one to blame but themselves for this chaos, simply — and ironically — because they haven’t followed the Democrats’ un-democratic lead.

Yes, those sanctimonious blue state senators and House hacks, cackling away with Chris Matthews every evening about the GOP being in complete disarray, always fail to mention that the only reason they are in locked goosestep to a Hillary nomination is because of their Tammany Hall-style party boss system of superdelegates.

Without it, Hillary would be taking out banner ads on jihadimingle.com in the hopes of flipping every last Sanders voter.

As for “The People’s Emperor,” he’ll be busy trying on laurel wreaths and golden robes, firing one spray tan airbrusher after another, and memorizing the only latin phrase he’ll need to know for his convention speech: Veni, vidi, vici!

Timothy Philen is the author of Harper&Row/Lippincott’s You CAN Run Away From It! a satirical indictment of American pop psychology. He is currently at work on a latter-day Walden, a collection of essays on post-modern American culture.