As we approach the end of Season 2: The Trump White House, our president—the man holding both the nuclear codes and 800,000 federal paychecks hostage—held a raucous, rambling, televised cabinet meeting while displaying a Game of Thrones-inspired poster. “November 4,” the poster read, though it was January. “Sanctions are coming.”
Wait, was this an episode I missed?
I hone in on the poster. President Trump emerging from a thick mist, his coat waving in an imagined wind, a throwback to the way TV producers once sold him to audiences of “The Apprentice” in the opening credits. The unmistakable vision of wealth. A towering, mysterious man walking away from a helicopter to the tune of, “Money money money money. MON-aayyy.”
And then it hits me. The poster, the entire cabinet meeting in fact, are teasers for his season finale. Will Trump get his wall? Will almost a million American workers receive paychecks? It’s must see TV!
To be fair, the show delivers. Consider some of the president’s most highly-rated episodes.
S1:E1—The Muslim Ban: A young man waits all day at the Los Angeles airport for the release of his 80-year-old Iranian grandmother who has already traveled 20 hours and is then locked in a small room with other detainees for nine hours. An Iranian couple with a four month-old baby scheduled for heart surgery is denied entry into the U.S., and even though the family is already in transit with their sick child, they have no choice but to return to Iran.
S1:E5—Russians in the Oval: After 17 U.S. intelligence agencies agree Russia interfered in the 2016 election, the president punishes them by firing his own FBI Director. He then invites Minister Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyak into the Oval office with only Russian media (no Americans) in the room. Afterward, the president sits down for an interview with ‘The Economist,’ after which the editors describe his grasp of economics as “unimaginative and incoherent.”
S1:E8—Charlottesville: Neo-nazis march in Virginia, carrying torches and chanting, “Jews will not replace us!” A woman is viciously murdered. The president declares good people on both sides, and the KKK’s David Duke tweets him a thank you.
S1:E9—Hurricanes and Dreamers: In Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath, as communities struggle to survive and recover, the president announces his intent to shut down DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) as the body of 31 year-old Alonso Guillen, a DACA recipient, washes ashore, four days after he drowned while voluntarily rescuing stranded Americans.
S2:E6—The Singapore Summit: Not long after announcing a meeting with Kim Jung Un, the president fires his National Security Advisor. Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, retired Admiral James Stavridis, responds, “You look for the national security apparatus as guardrails around the presidency because of the immense power that’s invested in the executive branch. I feel like those guardrails are drifting. God help us if we lose Jim Mattis.”
S2:E7—The Helsinki Summit: After a two-hour, private meeting with Vladimir Putin, President Trump is asked who he believes regarding Russia’s interference in our elections, 17 American intelligence agencies or the Russian president? He chooses Russia. Sen. John McCain responds, “No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant.”
S2:E11—Kids in Cages: After Central American immigrants walk more than a thousand miles to reach the United States, border patrol agents confiscate their children and store them in cages and tents, after which Homeland Security loses track of many migrant children in their custody. Meanwhile, the president shuts down the government, demanding billions for a wall, citing “caravans.”
In the Jan. 7 issue of The New Yorker, in an article about the making of “The Apprentice,” Patrick Radden Keefe describes how “camera operators often shot Trump from low angles, as you would a basketball pro, or Mt. Rushmore….His entrances were choreographed for maximum impact.”
As we await President Trump’s Season 2 finale, a new, up-close, visage of the president with the words “The Wall is Coming,” have been emblazoned on a new poster. Will the government re-open? Will he get his wall or declare a state of emergency? Tune in!
The American presidency has been reduced to a reality TV show, the star with the nuclear codes is disgruntled, and co-star General Mattis has left the show. God help us.