How to Kick a Man When He’s Down

In 2020, Trump is Glenn Close and we are Michael Douglas trying to finish the job.

IMAGE: PATRICK SEMANSKY/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

by Rich Herschlag

This isn’t the first essay you’ve read about not getting too comfortable with Joe Biden’s lead in the polls, and Lord knows it won’t be the last. It probably won’t be the most comprehensive one or the most authoritative. But my goal is only that it be the most paranoid.

When looking for an opening analogy I landed first on my one year of scholastic football, during which I learned—in addition to learning not to play a second year of scholastic football—to tackle through the opposing player. Whereas novices often stop driving with their legs upon contact, proper execution is to continue driving—hard as you can—until the opposing player is down. Because, you know, a good running back, tight end, or wide receiver will wriggle out of a halfhearted tackle.

But this lame-o analogy isn’t going to cut it with a serial rapist who would rather send countless Americans to their deaths than tweak his approach to the pandemic. What I’m talking about here, rather, is Glenn Close in the climactic scene of Fatal Attraction, where Michael Douglas has strangled her in a bathtub but she springs up suddenly with the knife and Anne Archer shoots her. In 2020, Trump is Glenn Close and we are Michael Douglas trying to finish the job. Because in November there might not be an Anne Archer.

Feel just a wee bit sorry for Trump as he staggers and mumbles about not being loved? Don’t. He is every ruthless criminal in every B movie you’ve ever seen rising as if from the dead to pick up that .45 on the ground and fire that one last bullet into your back. 

Enjoying the 12-point Biden lead in the polls? I call it even with the edge to Trump. Assuming there is an election, maybe less than even. As this publication has before so accurately pointed out numerous times, this is about the swing states and little more. A five-point or so lead for the challenger in Pennsylvania after a sitting president has gutted the federal government, rule of law, the economy, respect around the world, truth, and the very notion of the chief executive advocating for the American people tells me “freefall” in this case is little more than a slip down a half flight of stairs. Forget for a minute that in this, my adopted home state, I want to run wild in the streets, grab aging white male strangers, and shake them until they divulge what horrible things Mommy and Daddy did to them in the 1950s. One more half-decent post-COVID-onset jobs report and the Keystone State is a tossup.

For those of you who don’t already know, July is opposition research month. The same oligarchs who brought you WikiLeaks in 2016 are hard at work mining dirt that will make Hillary Clinton’s treatment four years ago look like a lost episode of This is Your Life. Since Facebook still plays by 2016 rules while technology has marched on, expect deepfake videos of Joe Biden engaging in autoerotic asphyxiation and rough sex play with the stars of Never Have I Ever. Expect Instagram posts of Hunter Biden stuffing stacks of crisp Ben Franklins and bags of white powder into carry-on luggage at Dulles Airport. Expect TikToks of whoever is the vice-presidential nominee burning American flags and using the remaining scraps to choke puppies at a Black Lives Matter protest. And in August, they start dumping the really damaging stuff.

While the deepfake videos are the gift that will keep giving, August is complacency month. It’s hot, Congress has gotten the hell out of Dodge, folks are once again getting regular paychecks, mud wrestling and moshing, and getting haircuts without a mask. Sure a few more people have died, but they were haters. Wisconsin is a dead heat and Florida is leaning Trump by a point. Fewer undocumented immigrants than ever are streaming across the border, not so much because of a wall but because no one wants to risk coming here and getting sick, but why split hairs?

September is voter suppression month. Final plans are being laid to close polls in Des Moines and Green Bay. Electric power failures in Tallahassee and Atlanta are being fine-tuned. Mail-in ballots are disappearing in Fairfax and Houston. “Consultants” are being hired to firebomb Minneapolis and Cleveland. Michigan is in play, and the great state of Texas is looking like it would assassinate JFK all over again if it could.

October is anything goes. Look for a war with China, a capitulation from Kim Jong-un, a COVID-19 vaccine made from tobacco leaves, a trade deal with Jupiter, and a televised French kiss from Melania. On the evening of November 2, the whole thing is a statistical tie, heavy rain is forecast for the eastern seaboard, and Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t taken down the viral sponsored ad about Joe Biden hanging on for dear life in a Bethesda ER after a reported near fatal stroke..

Trump is poised for four more years of shameless brutality, utter indifference to life, and state visits to his bankrupt golf courses. As empty as his head is, the vacuum has been filled with the name of every American citizen who opposed him, including your name and mine. The coming bloodbath is going to make the McCarthy era look like Woodstock, Soviet collectivization look like a flea market, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution look like a job fair. And you and I will spend our final minutes as semi-free Americans on November 3 regretting not sending in those few extra bucks to the Amy McGrath campaign or driving 80-something radical feminist Aunt Sue with phlebitis to the polls because Sumter County, Georgia was probably going blue anyway.

The problem here is you and I. The problem is you and I were taught not to kick a man when he’s down. But allow me to help us both. The candidate in question is not a man unless you’re really stretching the definition, and he is not down. He is a scorned lunatic with bad hair faking paralysis in a bathtub and clutching a 12-inch carving knife. It’s up to us to drain the tub.

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