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BY MAX BURBANK | “I didn’t think Trump could sink any lower, but…” is the beginning of a Facebook post or tweet that I see about once a week. We can all debate the relative lowness of specific Trumpian misadventures. Tweeting “Nobody could have done what I’ve done for #PuertoRico with so little appreciation. So much work!” is certainly despicable, but is it better or worse than the whole “calm before the storm” thing, teasing a potential nuclear war with North Korea like it was an “Apprentice” cliffhanger?
One can argue the merits of which specific barbarity is more egregious than the last, but the steady downward trend is undeniable. Trump is the Usain Bolt of human awfulness. He will spend his career breaking records, a Kryptonian mole tunneling relentlessly toward the center of the earth at super-speed.
Here’s another Internet poser you see a lot lately: “How low will Trump have to go before his fellow Republicans turn on him?” With very few exceptions, the answer has been, “I don’t understand the question.”
Considering the depths Trump has already spelunked to, it’s not unreasonable to assume that Republicans’ willingness to embrace, or at least justify, Trump’s every debacle is mathematically just as endless as Trump’s ability to burrow deeper.
So. No matter how bad he is, Trump has demonstrated he can and will get worse. No matter how ridiculous, transparent and damning Republicans have been in their support, they will get more bizarre, servile and tainted — rats defying all stereotypes, clinging tenaciously to the anchor chain of a sinking ship. It’s a mathematical death spiral before which all but the most dauntless imaginations would quail. Not mine. As Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson so eloquently sang in a tune penned for him by the great Lin-Manuel Miranda, “You’re Welcome.” See how I subtly placed myself in that company? That’s the kind of dauntlessness my imagination is sporting.
An algorithm of my own invention — based on the president’s ability to be ever more horrid, coupled with Republicans’ willingness to normalize each step downward — allows me to predict the future. Not with, you know, total accuracy or anything… but I think I can sketch out the gist.
About two weeks from now: During a horrific natural disaster Trump will call “The biggest!” and “So exciting!,” Trump will fly from a weekend of golf at Bedminster to a rally in, let’s say, Kentucky. He will be introduced by Vice President Mike Pence, who will conclude his remarks by having surprise guest Joe Arpaio spank him with a large American flag-emblazoned wooden paddle. Pence will release a statement saying that this “sincere gesture of loyalty and patriotism” was a “surprise” to the president, who had “no idea, as this act was entirely my own.” Fifteen minutes later, Trump will tweet “I asked @VP Pence to be spanked by Joe Arpaio. I am proud of him and his @WifeMommy Karen.” Sean Hannity will describe the event as “The moment Mike Pence finally became Vice President.”
In a month or so: Trump will sign an executive order allowing the health insurance industry to classify being female as a pre-existing condition, which he argues, “It is.” Exceptions are granted for certain plastic surgeries, because “All citizens deserve the right to better themselves.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will claim “No health insurance is undeniably better for women’s health than having health insurance.” When accused by Katy Tur of “making no damn sense,” Sanders will reply they must “agree to disagree.”
At 4 a.m. the next day, not really as a distraction from the health care/women thing, but just because he’s nuts and kind of a bastard: Trump tweets “When will Fake News shut up about needy Puerto Rico? Very poor & disgusting before Maria, now all gone. Did what we could. Move on!” United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he “can’t be bothered all the time” with “questions about stuff the president thinks.”
A week later-ish: In a wide-ranging, erratic interview with Lester Holt, Trump demands to know “When will you people will stop saying all the time about how I’m a White Supremacist? If I think white people are better, maybe it’s because all your black football players crap on my flag. Explain that.” During the second half of the interview, he will be almost unintelligible as he consumes and entire bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken but can be quite clearly heard wondering aloud why African American player’s “owners” can’t “just force them to stand up” and reminiscing about “the good old days” when “it was all fire hoses, police dogs and stretchers.”
About a month from then: Flying from a three-day golf weekend at Mar-a- Lago en route to a four day-golf weekend at some other course he owns, Trump stops off for a rally in some random former Confederate state. There he will invite Vice President Pence on stage, and ask him as a show of loyalty to strip to his underwear, bark like a dog, and “fetch” a star spangled rubber ball — all of which the Vice President will do after a pause that, while only 2.5 seconds long, feels like seven eternities. While Pence is telling the press it was his own idea, Trump tweets “He wishes.”
Two months later, if we’re lucky: Trump tweets “Loser Mueller Fake News Russia bastard lies! Maybe someone kills treasoner. An idea!” A haggard White House Chief of Staff John Kelly says he “can’t control what the president tweets” when he’s “locked in the bathroom.”
Like, another month and a half, maybe: For a harrowing three minutes and twenty-five seconds, a mostly naked, adult diaper-wearing Donald Trump can be seen on Facebook Live squatting on the Oval Office rug playing with a large set of plastic toy keys and saying the word “truck” over and over. A shrieking White House Chief of Staff John Kelly rushes the screen, which then darkness.
Four months after that at the very outside: Despite consensus on the part of all 17 intelligence agencies, the president refuses to accept that Kim Jong-un does not have an official Twitter account, and that the tweet calling Trump a “Morbidly Obese Tiny-Penis Mongrel” was fake. Deep within a hardened, underground bunker at an undisclosed location, the president tweets “Trump solves so-called ‘global warming,’ Fake News lying media call it ‘Nuclear Winter.’ So unfair!”