Primary Perspectives / DeWitt Cheng
“Land of Opportunities”
Loyalität über alles, loyalty above all, conflates the title of the German national anthem and Trump’s famous demand for slavish personal loyalty over public service or moral principle: “Why can't you be as loyal as Hitler’s generals?” The subservience of the Republican Party to its MAGA wing seems endless, and worth mocking with a Mussolini statuette wearing the grotesque mask from the Fascist Party headquarters in Milan in the 1930s. Vice presidential hopefuls, take note.
South Carolina Senator Humbled and Honored
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott betrayed the political mentor who appointed him, former governor Nikki Haley, when it became clear with the New Hampshire primary results that Trump’s wagon stood a better opportunity to lead to stardom and power. We all remember Ted Cruz swallowing Trump’s insults to his wife Heidi in 2016, so I wondered if Scott could do better. Since he had just recently, at age 58, announced his engagement, the seignorial right of the first night from feudal times seemed an appropriate analogy. Especially after Trump publicly taunted him onstage.
He Says What Everyone is Thinking
Trumpolalia is the MAGA version of glossolalia, or speaking in divine tongues. Trump’s menacing prediction that Biden would get the country involved in World War II (oops) came to mind as a sterling example. Voters with elephantine memories will recall that “he says what everyone is thinking” served as populist praise for George W. Bush 24 years ago — just as Make America Great Again was a recycled Reaganism.
So Zeus Created the Divine Julius
The Roman triumphal procession for victorious generals included the painting of the honoree’s face to resemble early statues of Zeus; the increasingly painted former guy, restored to power and glory, would undoubtedly approve. Here, the Roman underling accompanying the general in the chariot who whispered, “Remember, you shall die,” is replaced with the gilded gnome statue from the Conservative Political Action Committee of a few years ago. The title refers to a memorably absurd Trump campaign video refrain, So God Created Trump.
O captain, my captain!
Théodore Géricault’s Romantic shipwreck painting, “The Raft of the Medusa” (1818), divested of its suffering victims, made a good stage backdrop for the two last men standing (or reclining, like Rudy Giuliani) in the 2024 election cycle. The captions contain direct quotes from 2023 (Trump) and Biden (2020). “O captain, my captain” comes from Walt Whitman’s 1865 poem dedicated to the assassinated President Lincoln (whom he saw from time to time in the streets of the capitol during the war). “O Ship of State” comes from Longfellow’s poem “The Building of the Ship” (1849) extolling the infant republic, employing the metaphor coined by Plato.
Granite State Deus Ex Machina
The Great Anti-Woke Awakening contrasts the four revivalist Awakening movements of 18th through 20th century America with the 2022-3 DeSantis Anti-Woke crusade against bogeyman liberalism. The red spots on the hands of DeSantis and Haley echo the mysterious red spots on Trump’s hands in Iowa that excited internet rumors of secondary-stage syphilis or gonorrhea, or, more humorously, stigmata. The progressive journalist Cenk Uygur — incidentally, a minor presidential candidate and no friend to Trump—suggested that the spots might be nothing more than freezer burns on an old golfer’s ungloved hands.