As it Was Always Scripted; Trump’s October Surprise

Photo By Mike Mozart | CC BY 2.0

Photo By Mike Mozart | CC BY 2.0

The Trump tapes, or Pussygate, can hardly come as much of a surprise. The most relevant aspect to this is the timing. Now I, and others, certainly, suspected Trump would take larger and larger missteps as the election grew near. Almost as if he wanted to lose. You think? The problem has been nothing he does dissuades his base. And this brings up former governor Schwarzenegger. of California. One who had similar allegations directed at him back in the early 2000s.

If Trump resembles Berlusconi (and he does now more than ever), he also resembles the former governor, and a host of other rich and powerful men in the public spotlight. For this kind of casual abusive misogyny is part of the performance for a certain class of men. Why else have money they will tell you? Great restaurants? (meh) Nice cars (yeah, thats probably second place) or travel (nope). Its access to beautiful younger women. The trophy wife side bar phenomenon. The frat boy rape culture that is the default setting for privileged young white males.

I’ve seen it over the years and I remember that former governor in fact, back when he spent his days in gyms. (and it should be noted, I’ve seen an inverse phenomenon with professional athletes who actually often have to have body guards remove the groupie contingent from the hotel when they are trying to get to their rooms. And pop musicians. For this is the culture of total sexual objectification. Sex is currency). I remember that sense of entitlement.

Wealth, obviously, breeds privilege. The more money you have the more privilege you have. But wealth and celebrity creates a sort of hyper privilege. Why is there even a first class section on airplanes? I ask this seriously. Why? So the rich can keep themselves from being dirtied by the masses? Why can’t people carry their own luggage up to their room at hotels? When some complain that if they did bell hops would be out of a job, the answer is that I’d be be happy to work as a bell hop my fair share of the time. Just as Don Trump should. And Hillary would be fine helping in the laundry room. I had an argument once with a rich person who said he knew the maids loved him and that he tipped well and so waiters loved him, too. All one can say to that is that firstly, it’s not true (they hate you) and second, if that is how, even casually, informally, one defines love, then we have a problem.

Now, Trump is a generally abusive person. One of his sons remembered fondly going with his grandfather to collect rents from the slum tenements the elder Trump owned. A Norman Rockwell image if ever there was one. On the other side, Chelsea Clinton (married to an Israeli/American hedge fund manager) waxes dreamily how she doesn’t really care about money. Only the rich say such things. Trump is the logical endgame for financial capital. Hillary the end game for a political class that first came to prominence in the cold war. But this was always in the cards. I am hardly the only one to have predicted a major problem that would force Trump to step down. And now every hideous war criminal and reactionary (Condi Rice, Jeb Bush, et al) are crawling over each other in degrees of moral outrage denouncing Trump. This is the electoral spectacle on steroids (apologies to the former governor).

But back to the Donald. Like the former Dianabol governor, Trump is mostly a freak show. A carny small tent act. But then, remember Reagan was governor on the heels of his disastrous term as president of the Screen Actors Guild. He was a celebrity. A pitchman for 20 Mule Team Borax. A B movie actor. . He never pretended otherwise. Reagan was, however, ideological. He was a rabid anti communist but he also pandered to wealth. He loved rich people. So did the human growth hormone governor.

But Berlusconi and Trump ARE wealth — maybe not Koch Brothers level wealth or the Sultan of Brunei— but close enough I think. And in Trump’s case, it is the fact that he signifies wealth more than his actual wealth. I mean John Kerry married the Heinz ketchup heiress. Just you know, speaking of wealth. Most national level politicians are wealthy. Who is the last senator or governor you can remember who is now living in an Airstream in someone’s driveway? Or in a tract home in Palmdale or Pensacola?

Anyway, Trump is not ideological. He is a businessman who made his money the old fashioned way, he inherited it. And I really find it odd that ANYONE can feign shock at Trump’s *pussy* remarks. Or that he is a boorish groper. For this goes back to the culture overall. A culture of marketing and images of allurement. Of 12 year old girls sexy posing in haute couture magazines (which is OK, but its a scandal to wear a hijab on the beach). It is the culture of military rape (watch Kirby Dick’s documentary The Invisible War). It is the culture of Catholic priest abuse going unreported and mostly unpunished.

Meanwhile a growing American gulag exists made up of 99% poor people, disproportionately black. Many serving decades for minor non violent offenses.In jail for doing far less, really, than Trump admits to. And yet, in Hollywood today it is impossible to find a film or TV show that does not idolize the military and police. It is the culture of runaway anti depressant use. Something like 1 in 4 Americans take anti depressants. Think on the current President and his assisting of Monsanto and GMO food, and the de-regulatory trade agreements he has pushed through. And most of all the billions spent on a military that is literally destroying the planet.

No, the public worries about distractions.  Meanwhile  people are beheaded in Saudi Arabia, our ally — but then that stuff is far away… and Israel is meanwhile slowly carrying out an ethnic cleansing of Gaza. Also far away. Thirty eight BILLION dollars is ticketed for Israel in the coming years. To better enforce their apartheid state. Inequality. And the US is encircling the globe with military bases and training various death squads (they once trained Yemen’s secret police for example). And the U.S. continues its draconian destruction of the middle east. And the re-colonizing of Africa. And assaults anywhere on disobedient states.

The U.S. public is being prepared for war with a virulent anti Russian propaganda campaign the likes of which I’ve never before seen (helped out by corporate owned media and PR firms like PURPOSE and AVAAZ). And the insane war loving ghouls in the Pentagon, and Hillary Clinton herself, want nothing so much as more war. Soros wants war. Western capital wants war. War makes money.

But back to the Donald. Trump was never going to be President. If a professional were handling his campaign and wanted to win this election, then trust me, this info would never have seen the light of day. No, this is just fine in terms of brand *Trump*. His cologne *Empire* (or if you prefer, his other fragrance *Success*) will probably increase in sales. His future media empire is barely affected by this scandal. If that’s what it is.

The abuse of women by rich powerful men goes on all the time. Its happened to Presidents. Its happened to governors and senators and DA’s and CEOs. Rich men consider it a part of their incentive package to treat women however they want. And given how extensive the groupie phenomenon is, the abuse has to be found in places outside the sexual because sex is always available for these men. Its about power and humiliation and degradation. And it’s a constant for the rich. Look at the University rape culture in the U.S. It occurs at very expensive and supposedly selective schools. It is part of learning to be Don Trump, or Bill Clinton. Abuse happens at major sports programs, too. Remember Joe Paterno? (or read the old volume by Gary Shaw on the old Daryl Royal football program at U of Texas). There are a thousand examples. It’s all related.

Treating people as things is what reification means. As Russell Jacoby said; treat your friends like appliances and your appliances like friends. Privilege is a staple of Capitalism. It creates inequality. And poverty. And inequality brings with it a kind of desperation. Those women looking for career advancement were scared of saying anything. Understandably. I watched at that gym those many years ago as the celebrity governor humiliated the husbands and boyfriends of women who he had noticed. That was part of it — the Alpha dog pissing contests. The women were incidental. And frankly it wasn’t about them for their husbands, usually, either. Capitalist patriarchy. Property.

Slip the maitre’d a c-note for a good table. It is a show of power. Its having *fuck you* money. I remember a visit to NYC years ago with a well known producer of bad films. And I remember his sense of entitlement with limo drivers and doormen. With anyone paid to serve him. I was embarrassed. I also felt powerless to do anything. And I regret that, in a way, although I still don’t quite know what I’d do.

All wealthy people do this to the help in one way or another. Some are less obvious is all. The expectation is that you get what you want if you are rich. Shirts with the right amount of starch. Vets to stay open late so you can get Poofy, your cat, when the merger meeting went longer than expected. You get to avoid waiting in lines. The bank manager escorts you into his office. Oh, and you get to grope and touch women you don’t know. Power… over their lives, often, and in general. The scandals of Gary Condit (Chandra Levy), or Eliot Spitzer (whose tab for call girls was extensive) or David Vitter and the *DC Madam* affair, or Moshe Katsav (Israel) or Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings, or Edward Heath and Operation Midland. Google them all.  Or, hey, Bill Clinton and…well….. pick a name. (funny how so few liberals were outraged about any of that.) Political scandal is always about someone with power and someone without power.

The point here is that such things are built into a racist capitalist patriarchal and hierarchical social order. The abuse of those with limited power or no power is an inextricable element in the fabric of capitalism. One of the reasons socialism is important, as an ideal, is that it is based on equality. So degraded is this concept today, across all the sub sets of abuse, that many laugh at the very notion.

People want to believe in some way or other that it is merit that gets you into the White House or boardroom. But it’s not. It is access and birth and money. Class and race. A kid born in that crumbling duplex in Cairo, Illinois, or Grant’s Pass, Oregon, or a thousand other dead end towns — that kid isn’t likely to ever do more than entry level service sector work. Increasingly those are the only jobs available in the U.S.

I knew a women who majored in *hospitality management* at college. How does such a course exist? Service. What does that mean? I’m not sure, but it has nothing to do with equality. It is a course in how to cater to the privileged. The sole remaining growth industries are prison construction and specialist service training for the 1%. This is why revolutions are violent and bloody.

Look at the entertainment industry. It is as crass and moronic as Trump. Prestige art is as elitist and class biased as Clinton. You want a play to get produced? Write about wealth. You want a novel picked up? Write about wealth.  The lives of the rich and famous.  They are building servants quarters in new houses for the first time since the Gilded Age.

Don Trump can return to the golf course now. Mike Pence can lose clumsily as it was always scripted. The most Imperialist and hawkish president in history will soon be sworn in.

John Steppling is an original founding member of the Padua Hills Playwrights Festival, a two-time NEA recipient, Rockefeller Fellow in theatre, and PEN-West winner for playwriting. Plays produced in LA, NYC, SF, Louisville, and at universities across the US, as well in Warsaw, Lodz, Paris, London and Krakow. Taught screenwriting and curated the cinematheque for five years at the Polish National Film School in Lodz, Poland. A collection of plays, Sea of Cortez & Other Plays was published in 1999, and his book on aesthetics, Aesthetic Resistance and Dis-Interest was published by Mimesis International in 2016.