"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Monday, March 25, 2024

When Sadie Velveteen Came To Washington - Trump II And The Burlesque Queen

The Biden presidency had been one thuddingly boring affair - a dour, morose, inglorious four years - and Americans were ready for a change and a return to the glitz, glamour, arm candy, yachts, and mansions of Donald Trump's first term. We are not a nation of turn-down-the-heat, sensible-shoed, penitential, compassionate sissies, his supporters said and voted in their President a second time. 

'Not him!' shouted the Left.  'Not him again!' wailed Biden claques.  After four years of catapulting hot oil, cannonades, and withering fire, the man was still standing. Despite the rage; in spite of show trials, witch trials, and calls for his head, Donald Trump was again coming to Washington. 

The nation watched as Joe Biden had turned the White House into a half-way house for black and brown people, Aleut and Hopi Indians, gay men, and reformed alcoholics.  A melting pot without a star.  A collection of half-breeds and outliers. 

'This is America', said Biden's Vice President who had taken to the podium on Day One four years before to announce the coming of the Biden Collective, 'and we will prevail'. And so it was that the portraits of America's heroes were turned to the wall.  Thomas Jefferson, miscegenist slave trader.  Hamilton, proto-Wall Street capitalist. Jackson, racist, genocidal tyrant - gone in a heartbeat.  The Oval Office was to be a working man's factory shop, the West Wing tenements for welfare mothers, the East Wing an immigrant sanctuary. 

The meme was dark and cautionary - the climate was warming, democracy in danger, racism systemic and virulent, homophobia insidious and hateful, black people still living in misery and incarceration.  The rich profit from the wages of the poor, the nation is no longer one of democracy but of crass capitalist manipulation and extortion. 


So, after four years it was no wonder that The Donald drew crowds in the tens of thousands. A champion of ambition and opportunity, an unabashed deal-maker, a fast talking image-maker; a man tuned into Hollywood and Las Vegas, Bimini, and Palm Beach.  

He was for everyone in America because he was the American, the middle-brow, showtime, runway-ready American who had no use for the projects, the bathhouses, and the slums.  America's ace-in-the-hole was and had always been enthusiasm - bright, glittering, starlit enthusiasm - not a muddy, weekday 'compassion'.  Champion winners, he said, and everyone wins. 

This would be the ethos of the second Trump administration, a reprise of Ronald Reagan's shining city on a hill but tarting it up, giving it the glitz, glamour, and sequins of stardom. It was time to put tinsel and sequins back, put some color on the North Portico and some lawn furniture on the South Lawn. 

Which is where Norma Barker, aka Sadie Velveteen comes in.  Trump knew Norma in his Hollywood days when she was a chorus girl at the Sands in Vegas.  He had met her at a cast party for The Apprentice, a splashy affair - starlets, glitterati, and New York investors.  She was his kind of woman - showy, forward, high makeup and gold lamé, come-hither sensuality, not quite right for his show, but somewhere.  They became friends in fact, and spent time together at Mar-el-Lago.  Melania liked her, found her particular style and forwardness attractive, and suggested that somewhere along the line she might be useful to her husband. 

She went back to Vegas and the chorus line, moving up but never to top dog, left the can-can and stockings routine and went off on her own and soon became a feature at the high-end burlesque shows on the Strip.  Burlesque wasn't much of a move up from the chorus line, still a lot of can-can and ooh-la-la, but she could be a performer, a star in her own right. 

She developed quite a following as Sadie Velveteen, and accepted the many offers to show her a good time, i.e. trips to St. Barts, Rimini, and Martinique on gentlemen's private yachts.  Life was good, she was treated well, and wanted for nothing. She was brilliant at managing her admirers with careful husbandry of her affections, treading the fine line between consort and lover, never greedy, always attentive, and brilliant.  After a few years her net worth - all in jewels, gold, and platinum - was in the millions, all safe and sound in an offshore bank vault, retrievable and convertible through agreement and wire transfer. 

She contacted Trump in the White House, and he eagerly invited her for a visit.  He was right for the Oval Office, she thought, very impressive and suitable.  The whole place was nothing like she imagined, for she like most Americans thought of it as a historical place, inhabited but never lived in; but Donald Trump has made it his own.  There was activity everywhere, people coming in and out - beautiful people, she noted, young women with leather briefcases and Armani suits, a kind of political cocktail chatter that was surprising, but somehow typical of her friend, the President. 

'Would you like to work here?', he asked her; and of course she said yes, but unfortunately the President's term was near an end and the four years of national penance was about to begin. 'Maybe next time', he said; and when he once again sat in the Oval Office, he had his associates call her. 

She was appointed as the White House Cultural Attaché and was responsible for 're-culturing' the White House, whatever she considered necessary to transform its appearance, its themes, its ethos into something very classy American; something ordinary Americans could relate to, a place of fancy and popular appeal.  

Who better than Sadie, as quintessentially this type of American as anyone, a woman who appreciated show, staging, lights, and music and knew how to combine them in an orchestral...no, operatic pageant. 

So the meaningful photographs of the dust bowl, farm workers, and community activists were 'archived' and replaced by Marilyn Monroe, Hedy Lamar, Taylor Swift; Sixties memorabilia, Dale Chihuly glass bibelots, and American flags. It was an eclectic Hard Rock Cafe meets Hollywood kind of place. 

The parties were reminiscent of Studio 54, New York's watering hole for the hip rich, the Andy Warhol, Factory crowd, a La Coupole west, everyone who was anyone showed up and was shown off, fabulously glamorous with affairs, the talk of the town. 

So along with his political, economic, and social conservatism; fiscal responsibility, strong Machiavellian foreign policy, small government, and financial restraint, a true American culture came to the White House - a Las Vegas one, a burlesque one, a tinselly, glitzy, showy one.  It was as though all of the American iconic pieces came together in one place. The Wild West and the OK Corral. J.P. Morgan, Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie.  Free enterprise, Hollywood, soap operas and Patti Page.  America was finally rid of the downbeat, musty, faux diversity of the Biden years. Washington was a happy place.


The Left didn't know what hit them.  They had been convinced that the Trump days were over and done with, forgotten and dismissed forever.  But not only did The Donald dismantle all their programs of diversity, equity, and inclusivity, free the private sector, and unleash the military, he turned the White House into a cheap burlesque show - a classless, empty, garish place.  Everything good, holy, and sensible down the drain. 

'I'm back!', said the smiling Donald Trump after his resounding electoral victory. 'Get over it'.  

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