The new Trump indictment’s crown jewel is the dialogue perpetrated while the accused was showing off an alleged plan for invading Iran. The killer line: “Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this.” He’s saying it’s secret and then he says look at this!
We’re told we ought to read the indictment. You can if you want, but it seems like the media’s already laid out the basics of the case. The indictment fleshes out matters, as it should, so we get a blow-by-blow account of Donald Trump’s lies and delays as he tried fancy-dancing federal investigators, and of his bumbling as he slopped about with classified papers. Good for the jury to know, and necessary to historians, but nothing to affect the thinking of us ordinaries. It’s a matter of plentiful i’s being dotted, as opposed to a new picture emerging.
Once again we see Trump, that hapless bundle of appetites, busily ignoring law, decency, and probable detection by going the “If it feels good, do it” route, this time not with someone’s vagina or a sucker’s wallet or the country’s foreign policy, but with box after box of important documents that he probably can’t read. Having grabbed them he wasn’t even sure where to keep them, hence the indictment’s piquant photos of boxes heaped in a bathroom and onstage in a ballroom. The indictment tells us that “an office space, his bedroom, and a storage room" also played their part. But the bathroom and ballroom were the funniest locations, and being funny is a Trump hallmark. Because he’s stupid and because the frantic selfishness that makes him grab also makes him oblivious. Who took those photos? Not investigators. The man who stole the documents had the pictures taken, and now there they are, evidence.
Admittedly the affair has its serious side. For example, the indictment says, the papers “included information on defense and weapons capabilities of both the United States and foreign countries; United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack. The unauthorized disclosure of these classified documents could put at risk the national security of the United States, foreign relations, the safety of the United States military, and human sources and the continued viability of sensitive intelligence collection methods.” The escapade kind of sucks and could cause serious harm. But it’s still funny. As long as that combination keeps coming up, we know we’re in the Age of Trump.
Damon robbed too. Indictment weekend included a new campaign clip for Trump’s re-election, this clip being a deluxe two-minute job about his triumph and tragedy. On top the montage of stills and footage there plays Matt Damon’s climactic speech from Air, Ben Affleck’s new film about how Nike persuaded Michael Jordan to endorse its shoes. Trump’s people just took it. Maybe they’re hoping that the controversy will generate some extra notice for the clip, notice that will balance having to junk the thing because of legal reprisals. Or, in Trump fashion, they may have figured that lifting copyrighted material belonging to two of the most powerful stars in Hollywood wouldn’t have any consequences—after all who would notice? Oddly someone did notice, namely Damon and Affleck, and their production company has announced that it won’t go along with the nonsense.
The speech is second person and, in the movie it’s addressed to the young Michael Jordan. In the clip it’s addressed to Donald Trump, who’s told (by Damon’s husky, heartfelt voice) the following: “Everyone will be forgotten as soon as our time here is up. Except for you. You’re going to be remembered forever because some things are eternal” and “The rest of us just want to touch that greatness. We need you in those shoes not so that you have meaning in your life but so we have meaning in ours.” That’s how the candidate sees you, folks.
His vision is expressed in terms of shoes because a movie about footwear will return to that theme. Seeing Trump pilfer some of Jordan’s personal glory by means of a shoe movie is distasteful but funny. But the clip’s most Trumpian moment comes when we hear about hardship and perseverance: “A lot of people can climb that mountain. But it’s the way down that breaks you. Because that’s the moment you are truly alone.” This plays over footage of Trump trudging home to the White House after a poorly attended rally. The movie plays it over headlines about the murder of Jordan’s father. Trump took it anyway. Horrible, horrible but funny.