Since the liberal Left is still smarting from the election of Donald Trump but still flummoxed about what to do, some are calling for a boycott of the Inauguration – not the real thing, of course, but television coverage. The way to hurt him is through ratings, said Bill Scher of the New Republic:
Of course, watching Trump is not the same as supporting Trump. Plenty of people hate-watch Trump like they would any other bad reality TV show. But Trump, like a small child who can’t distinguish between good attention and bad attention, will take your viewership, add it to his total, and brag about the size of his audience. Unless you are a journalist on the Trump beat, you have no obligation to puff up his numbers.
Unfortunately this is the last thing that anyone, Trump supporter or Trump hater, is likely to do. The haters will be glued to the tube like spectators at the Indy 500 waiting for a crash – an absurd, windy, self-congratulatory speech that will vindicate every hoarse protest, prove them right that America’s boobs have elected one of their own. They will snicker at the lily-white, camera-ready, gorgeous Trump family, the old white men of the Cabinet, and the glitz and pomposity of the Las Vegas version of pomp and ceremony. There is no way they can possibly turn away from a spectacle which in all its glitzy showmanship, its show-off glory of white supremacy, and its supreme ignorant arrogance will keep their anger stoked.
Scher had it exactly right when he wrote:
Asked in 1990 by Playboy why he surrounds himself with “the yacht, the bronze tower, the casinos,” he responded, “Props for the show. … The show is ‘Trump.’ And it is sold-out performances everywhere.”
Not watching the Inauguration is like staying home instead of watching Cleopatra’s barge make its way up the Nile.
Even Enobarbus, faithful advisor to Octavius and as wary as the young Emperor of Antony’s intentions, cannot help but be seduced by the allure of the Egyptian Queen. ‘The sybaritic East’ as the austere Romans called Cleopatra’s empire – all show and no substance, no discipline, and no moral standards – but they couldn’t take their eyes off the imperial queen, her retinue, and the splendor of Alexandria.
I will tell you.American progressives, despite their demurral, are as attracted to Trump’s display of wealth and grandeur as were the ancient Romans. As much as they hate the garish display of money, the tinsel, and the Hollywood superficial beauty, they know that they are about to watch the first installment of the hottest soap opera to come to town, and they cannot possibly keep the screen dark.
The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne,
Burn'd on the water: the poop was beaten gold;
Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
The winds were love-sick with them; the oars were silver,
Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
The water which they beat to follow faster,
As amorous of their strokes. For her own person,
It beggar'd all description: she did lie
In her pavilion--cloth-of-gold of tissue--
O'er-picturing that Venus where we see
The fancy outwork nature: on each side her
Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids,
With divers-colour'd fans, whose wind did seem
To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool,
And what they undid did (Antony and Cleopatra, II.ii)
Of course Trump understands this. Every golden Miss Universe tiara, every shot of his gorgeous runway-ready wife, his stunning daughter Ivanka; every triumphant pose of the new President on Pennsylvania Avenue; every magisterial step in procession; every drumbeat and marching band; and every ounce of arrogant pride at the photo-op of all photo-ops -the swearing in – will be a final turning of the dagger in the side of his enemies.
So no, Hillary supporters will be unable to turn away, tune out, or turn off. They will be as glued to the television as the most passionate Trump supporters who will be deliriously happy at the accession of one of their own to the highest office in the land.
Of course anyone worth billions, with a trophy wife, yachts, multiple homes, and the perks, privileges, and honors of the truly wealth and powerful is not a man of the people. He is the man the people want to be. They may have no clue about the life style of Park Avenue, Rittenhouse Square, or Beacon Hill. First editions, a box at the opera, Chippendale secretaries, and silver tea services mean nothing, signify nothing, and have no value. But they are intimately familiar with Trump-style glamour. They have been in the glass and marble lobbies of his Towers on trips to Miami and New York. They have seen young starlets on Oprah and Jimmy Fallon. They read E! and People magazines at the hair dresser. They have been to Las Vegas and taken the MGM tour.
Trump supporters watching the Inauguration will identify immediately with the unique and unmistakably American glamour of the show, will cry at the music and the celebrations, admire the statuesque beauty of the Trump women, appreciate the consummate look of power of the new Secretary of State, already one of the most powerful men in the world as President and CEO of Exxon Mobil, and that of his associates from Wall Street. If the Trump Administration doesn’t look like America, none ever will. There on display at the Inauguration for all to see will be American corporate power, Hollywood beauty and showmanship, and American wealth.
Everyone will be watching the Inauguration – the haters, the admirers, and even those who up until now have been too cynical or diffident to pay attention. Not only will they be watching, but they will be glued to the set. Trump, a showman to the tips of his shoes, knows the importance of surprise. It is the very unpredictability of a Trump performance which gets and keeps audiences. He will stretch protocol and the rules to create his Inauguration. He understands that this is the first installment of a melodrama which will run for at least four years.
The defeat at the hands of a boasting, pompous, and arrogant pretender still hurts. The loss was not just political but personal. Progressives not only lost what they thought was a political entitlement but face and self-worth. Had they lost to a Mitt Romney, the wounds would have been slight and easily healed. But Donald Trump??? The wounds will never heal, and Trump, loving to stick the dagger in deeper and twist and turn it again and again, will never let them.
The Inauguration will indeed be a celebration of the new, renewed America; but it will also be a big kick in the face to those who opposed him.