Donald Trump is not a particularly clever man. In May 2013 he tweeted “Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don't feel so stupid or insecure,it's not your fault”. A month beforehand, he tweeted “I know some of you may think l'm tough and harsh but actually I'm a very compassionate person (with a very high IQ) with strong common sense”. Last week he claimed to have invented the 100-year-old phrase ‘prime the pump’. He is not a genius.
He is a blustering, impulsive, poorly spoken, poorly dressed, fake-tan drizzled, fake-hair-having, frequently wrong, easily influenced, woefully inconsistent game show host who, most ridiculously of all, is the President of the United States of America. He is insanely easy to make fun of – everything about him is a joke. He is a man who can be ruthlessly and utterly mocked simply by quoting his own words verbatim or describing his own actions without embellishment. It takes zero work to make him look like a foolish dumbass with little awareness of the world around him and even less awareness of his own actions. You don’t have to be homophobic or transphobic to make fun of him.
I’m saying this because a bunch of people who get paid much more than you and I do decided that this is the way to go about it. In a monologue last week, Stephen Colbert said of Trump that the only thing Trump’s mouth is good for is “being Vladimir Putin’s cock holster”. Today, the Daily Show tweeted this.
This is not to say that Colbert is homophobic or that whoever does these social media jokes for the Daily Show is transphobic, I don’t know these people well enough to make that call. But these are both jokes that make being either gay or trans a punchline. The latter suggests that something equally as ‘wacky’ as the idea of Trump wiping his mouth with one of the United States’ most important historical documents is the idea of transitioning – what is often an extremely fraught process for the people who undertake it. It also relies on the extremely tired trope that when people transition they change their name to a slightly feminised version of their previous name, a trope that is used almost exclusively to mock people.
Colbert’s joke is clearly meant to indicate that Trump has a subservient relationship with Putin, and he’s chosen to illustrate this by suggesting they have a sexual relationship in which Trump is submissive. Cool, I get what he’s saying, but he’s doing it in a cultural context where accusing someone who is not gay of committing gay sex acts is almost universally considered an insult. Obviously, we are smart enough to know that being gay is not bad, it actually rules, but hearing a straight man tell a joke that is essentially “Trump is gay” to a mostly straight audience is just kinda shitty.
You might argue that both of these jokes are borderline and it’s clear that no malice was intended, the latter of which I think I agree with, but there’s really no reason to even take that chance at all. There is so much about Trump that is worthy of derision and just genuinely baffling that you don’t have to try and questionably ‘push boundaries’ to do that. He is a man riddled with so many insecurities and pathologies that he is incapable of experiencing a day as president without saying something profoundly wrongheaded or doing something that makes his own staff scramble to make it look like he’s not a giant dumbass (which he is).
Last week Trump had a map of the results of the 2016 election hung in a room adjacent to the Oval Office – the man has won one of the single most powerful political positions in the entire world and he’s still insecure about losing the popular vote. In a speech today he uttered this wonderful gem: “Look at the way I've been treated lately, especially by the media. No politician in history - and I say this with great surety - has been treated worse or more unfairly.”
In a world where Viktor Yushchenko was horribly scarred after deliberately being poisoned with dioxin; where presidents Lincoln, Kennedy, Garfield and McKinley were all assassinated; where Aung San Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest; and where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison, Trump – the quote unquote ‘leader of the free world’ – still believes himself to be hard done by because people continue to report his many, many cock-ups.
Trump is incapable of getting out of bed without tripping over his own dick. If you reckon you need to make your joke about him at the expense of gay people or trans people, you are really just not paying attention.