Then The Atlantic published a riveting cover story by McKay Coppins that in some ways raised the same prospect, reporting that Ivanka and Don Jr. are jockeying to be their dad’s rightful political heir and noting that the Trump progeny are genetically wired to wring every last droplet from their father’s celebrity that they can.
Flashing back to the night in November 2016 when the family watched the election returns, Coppins wrote that they were in shock, because Trump “was supposed to go down in a spectacular blaze of made-for-TV martyrdom that all of them could capitalize on. Ivanka had a book coming out. Don and Eric were working on a line of patriotically themed budget hotels. And preliminary talks were underway to launch a Trump-branded TV network that would turn disgruntled voters into viewers. Now they needed a new plan.” Apparently it’s one modeled after the Kennedys and the Bushes, only with a much bigger budget for hair and makeup.
Best of luck, Trumpkins. I just don’t see it. Ivanka — or, as I like to think of her, Our Lady of the DMZ — has shown a shocking tone-deafness during her White House romp. And Don Jr. was the nitwit emailing ecstatically and then lying badly about that June 2016 meeting with the Russian, um, adoption evangelists. These two have all of Dad’s gall but only a scintilla of his guile.
Trump won’t hang around by proxy, in a next generation of opportunists with his surname or agenda. That would negate the whole point of his pivot into politics. It wasn’t to promote ideas; it was to promote himself. Health permitting, he’ll move heaven and earth to maintain his omnipresence in American life, by which I mean he’ll be as outrageous as he must to stay in the news. And we in the media will confront a decision: Give him what he wants, or let go of him and all the eyeballs he draws?
Even if we let go, there’s the strong possibility, as Coppins noted, that he’ll establish his own media enterprise, with a network where the news really is fake, adulation doesn’t hinge on nuisances like the ballot box and Sean Hannity isn’t the model for Trump veneration. He’s the baseline.
From that coddled perch Trump can take out his big black Sharpie and write higher vote counts over his actual, official ones. He can draw horns on John Bolton and a halo over William Barr. He can sketch a second White House adjacent to the first one but taller, with gold trim.
That’s where he’ll be living, his power fictive but his presence ineluctable, snappily ever after.
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