Column

David Weiss: 'Another Fumbling Attempt to Understand the Enduring Appeal of One Donald J. Trunk'

March 19, 2024, 10:19 PM

David Weiss is a Los Angeles-based freelancer who grew up in Oak Park. He has written for the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, the LA Herald Examiner and Men's Journal and co-founded the band Was (Not Was). His father, the late Rube Weiss, was Santa Claus in the Hudson's Thanksgiving Parade.

By David Weiss

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This is not so much a theory as a passing notion, another fumbling attempt to understand the enduring appeal of one Donald J. Trunk (his name as mispronounced by an exasperated Covid-era mother wailing about her kids driving her batshit, adding that “the dispensaries ain’t givin’ no goddamn discounts!”) The local weed store was price-gouging during hard times? Come on Don, couldn’t you have called in a favor with Snoop or something?

Ever since that eloquent raging, I have referred to the King of Queens as Trunk, knowing full well that the honored family name is “Drumpf.” By the time Trump's grandpa Friedrich arrived ashore in America, the name was already a perfumed version that helped deflect anti-German sentiment toward Daddy Fred and his Dummkopf future sidekick, Tonto (which of course means “stupid” in Spanish, another reason to love pre-woke-Hollywood).

Where was I? Ah yes, the “non-theoretical passing notion” goes something like this: with all the recent hand-wringing about renegade artificial intelligence, it occurred to me that we’ve already experienced such a doomsday scenario in the person of the aforementioned D.J. Trunk. Take one empty vessel – a blank hard disk if you will – and program it with the kind of noxious nationalist/racist tropes that have infected western democracies for the last 50 years; put him in an oversized, red-white-and blue costume and cue that mawkish patriot-pop song. Hit return and initiate voice activation.

What makes a guy like DJT such a useful idiot is that he can mesmerize the myopic masses with his Kiwanis-level toastmastery, his flatline infomercial-style pitches, his reflexive lying and his utter shamelessness whilst delivering such cant. But how are they so easily persuaded by such a tacky huckster? Is it mass psychosis or dumbed-down unsophistication that leads to such chicanery?

It pays to remember what Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran gushed about Trunk: “I can tell you he’s the best salesman I’ve ever met in my life.” Ice to the Eskimos? Not even a minor challenge for a man born to cut corners, to make up and break rules as he went along, to act ruthlessly and guiltlessly like the closet psychopath that he is. All in a day’s work for a serial fabulist/con man like Don Trizzunk.

With your indulgence, back to my labored AI trope: what makes this word-salad generator so effective is that he doesn’t require belief or conviction to deliver hackneyed lines about lunatic immigrants and devilish swamp creatures. He’ll read anything that rolls by on the old ‘prompter, like an obedient bot is programmed to do. Mind of his own? Let’s hope not – again, what makes AI so lethal is that it just might develop one!

Third-rate Steaks

And are we shocked that an august office like the presidency should be occupied by a man better suited to hawking third-rate steaks and worthless NFTs? Welcome to AI 1.0, ladies and germaphobes. Trunk is like a steam-powered Chat GPT, a harbinger of the dark days ahead when that dastardly AI gang decides to go rogue on our slow-witted asses and lets loose a flock of nuclear warbirds. Sorry folks, them red maggot caps ain’t lead-lined – we’re all goners at that point!

Trunk aside, what should really worry us are the AS (actually smart) backroom programmers/scoundrels like right-wing billionaire Robert Mercer (and his good pal Ginny Thomas) or the twin Steves, Bannon and Miller, the cynical Trunk-whisperers who know which dime-store buzzwords and triggers will woo those atavistic, MAGA-cap wearing yahoos into hypnotic lockstep with their beloved windbag.

Tigers' Ty Cobb?

And if you thought Trunk’s first term was a harmless, pre-fascist appetizer, the Putin-Orban-Kim fanboy-in-chief plans even more democracy-destroying autocracy than previously endured. As the conservative attorney with the Detroit Tigers name warned:

“They’re looking for lawyers who worship Trump and will do his bidding,” said Ty Cobb, who worked in the White House for you-know-who. “Trump is looking to Miller to pick people who will be more loyal to Trump than the rule of law. He doesn’t care about the rule of law or the quality of the criminal justice system,” Cobb said. “He only cares about fealty to him.”

Why should a robotic, software-injected cipher like Iggy Trunk care about anything except raw power, the only aphrodisiac left to a man whose wife hasn’t slept within a county of his malodorous ass (literally speaking) in around nine years or so. No more pitying porn stars or Playboy centerfolds for poor Donald the Seducer. Nobody to grab by the you-know-what, no matter how many Tic Tacs he keeps in his lapel pocket. Maybe injecting bleach would work for him.

Thankfully, the wise women I’ve known have internal bot-detectors that retina-scan and personality-assess toxic phonies like Trunk, then spam-filter him before he executes any of his pre-loaded commands – whether that be immigrant-bashing or confiscating women’s rights or emulating stone-age strongmen, much less his propensity to drape his copious flesh over their unwilling bodies. Can I hear a collective UGH?

The only problem is, like actual artificial intelligence, Trunk is the political toothpaste that you can’t put back in the tube once it has oozed its democracy-destroying tincture over the political landscape. He, or someone just like him, is here to stay, as long as memes stand in for ideas and minds are set aflame by divisive deepfakes or even a shallow fake like the ignoble Mister Trunk. Where’s an escape button when you need it most?

 



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