Tuesday’s election results suggest Donald Trump may have just missed his chance to turn the world’s O.G. liberal democracy into a dystopian whites-only Cracker Barrel (also known as “a Cracker Barrel”), yet he still haunts our past, present, and future, like a Batman villain cooling his heels at Arkham Asylum. And his ideas are just as extreme and dangerous as ever.
Most people would think a guy who’s been accused of sexual assault—up to and including rape—dozens of times would refrain from making prison rape jokes. But then, again, most people don’t think like Donald Trump. He has a head full of spiders and a heart full of even larger, hairier spiders. And as the most un-American president in our 246-year history, he desperately wants the power to persecute journalists he doesn’t like, a la his polonium-loving lodestar Vladimir Putin.
So when he publicly fantasizes about truculent reporters being brutally raped in prison, it’s not really a joke so much as a plan—one that could still come to fruition, whether Trump is running the show or not.
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Trump was recently at a pre-election rally for top sycophant J.D. Vance, who defeated Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan for a U.S. Senate seat on Tuesday despite rockin’ a personality that’s basically just a series of increasingly constipated facial expressions. And he said this:
TRUMP: “I think the leaking, from the Supreme Court, first time it’s ever happened, is just unbelievable. But you get the information very easily, you tell the reporter, ‘Who is it?’ and the reporter will either tell you or not. And if the reporter doesn’t want to tell you, it’s bye, bye, the reporter goes to jail. And when the reporter learns that he’s going to be married in two days to a certain prisoner that’s extremely strong, tough, and mean, he will say—he or she—‘You know, I think I’m going to give you the information. Here’s the leaker, get me the hell out of here!’”
Trump wrapped up his violent fantasy by telling Ohioans that “Every freedom-loving American needs to understand that the time to stand up to this growing left-wing tyranny is now.”
Think he’s joking? He’s not joking. For one thing, jokes are funny. People—not orcs and troglodytes—laugh at them. This wasn’t a joke so much as a preview of what would happen if the orange Teletubby snorted a Fiat-sized berm of Adderall while putting the final touches on his lavish off-Broadway Mein Kampf musical.
It also wasn’t the first time he’s rambled on about his little fever dream. Consider this rambling excerpt from an Oct. 23 rally in Texas:
TRUMP: “… they don’t want to mention this, because they think it’s so terrible. You take the writer—‘cause you’re never gonna find them, they’re going through phone records, it’s been a long time—you take the writer, and/or the publisher of the paper, a certain paper that you know, and you say, ‘Who is the leaker? National security!’ And they say, ‘we’re not going to tell you,’ and they say, ‘that’s okay, you’re going to jail,’ and when this person realizes he is going to be the bride of another prisoner very shortly, he will say, ‘I’d very much like to tell you exactly who that leaker [is], it’s uh, Bill Jones, I swear he’s a leaker!’ And we got him, but they don’t want to do that, they don’t wanna do that, but that’s the only way you’re gonna find, we have to find, can you imagine? The leak out of the Supreme Court, never happened, a thing like that never happened before. You have to get the writer, and you have to tell the writer, ‘look, here’s the story, national security, you have to do this, and the publisher too ...”
And according to a new report in Rolling Stone, Trump has been privately singing the “let’s crack down on our free, independent press” refrain for some time now.
This year, as Trump has privately strategized about what a second term, potentially starting in 2025, could look like, he’s begun occasionally soliciting ideas from conservative allies for how the U.S. government and Justice Department could go about turning his desires — for brutally imprisoning significant numbers of reporters — into reality.
Several months ago, the former president briefly asked a small gathering of his allies and at least one of his attorneys about what would have to be done to make that authoritarian, First Amendment-shredding vision a norm, according to a source who was present.
“He said other countries do it — the implication being: Well, why not here?” the source recounts.
Good God, that’s horrifying. And yet entirely expected. I mean, why wouldn’t the guy who wanted to roll tanks down the streets of our cities, nullify a free and fair election because it hurt his feelings, and welcome the Muscovite Murder Mouse back to the G7 with open arms also want to jail journalists who run afoul of his tyrannical whims?
Of course, those “other countries” share a couple of key traits: 1) They're authoritarian hellscapes run by unaccountable, hog-brained, human rights-violating strongmen, and 2) Trump greatly admires their repressive leaders and wants to join their ranks.
But he might not get the chance. As Republicans wet their pantaloons for their third straight election last night, many of the GOP’s leading lights were seeking to distance themselves from their longtime malignant mascot.
There was Georgia’s Republican lieutenant governor ...
… and right-wing talk show host Erick Erickson …
… and National Review reporters …
… and—oh, this one’s gotta sting—even Fox News, the erstwhile PR shop for the now-toppled Trump regime ...
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
So maybe, just maybe, we’re done with Trump once and for all. But the animal spirits he roused are still lurking about like a piquant melange of special sauce, flop sweat, and bad ideas. Moral ciphers like Ron DeSantis saw what Trump could get away with, and they’re now licking their chops.
After all, they’ve been mimicking their god for years. Consider this 2021 video, where DeSantis offers his Trumpiest “excuse me” while abusing CNN reporter Rosa Flores:
Maybe it’s just post-Trump trauma eating away at my brain, but I won’t feel comfortable until his purpling corpse is choppered out to the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository for a dignified (for us, anyway) burial. After all, he could rise again at any time, like Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, or the McRib.
But—fingers crossed—we could actually be looking at the ocher abomination’s end here, and Trump himself appears to know it:
If Trump truly is dethroned, I could not be more relieved. Either way, we still have a lot of work to do. After the rebels blew up the Death Star, they got to celebrate for a while, but the Empire still had the Death Star blueprints, and the will and resources to build another one.
The awful precedents Trump has set—such as openly fantasizing about the brutal assaults of journalists, even as journalists themselves stand by looking cow-eyed and mute—have likely moved the Overton window in a truly awful direction. And people like DeSantis appear ready to capitalize on the new (ab)normal.
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Any real American should be chilled to their core by the things today’s Republicans—not just Trump—say and, maybe even worse, likely ponder in private.
The next wannabe GOP dictator will likely be less logorrheic, but they may be even more sinister and dangerous.
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Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.