Here’s a Tweet from Monday:
I’m Jason Rhode. You may know me from Paste, the online magazine about real-world fun. Politics is the subject I write about. Hi. How are your eyes? Not blinded, I hope. Ha ha ha, but seriously, if you looked at the eclipse today, seek medical attention. There’s no joking around about nature’s curses.
I write you today to make a single argument. This reality extending all around us? It is clearly a simulation. No human being could dare Darwin this flagrantly. Did Trump stare into the eye-murdering eclipse? Was he making a point about his strength? My God, does it matter? Where are we? How did we get here? Why is there so little public drinking in these plague years?
I kid. No, wait, I don’t. This image boggles the mind, beyond the dreams of Sixties acid. Trump stared at the blinding sun as if it was a new fire.
Folks. Donald Trump stared at the sun during an eclipse, and what else can we say about it? I have no doubt there will soon be an avalanche of pieces titled “Donald Trump stared into the Sun, triggering libs.” The American alt-right will spend a full week blinding themselves, all in an effort to show how little they care for polite society.
Here’s the first three paragraphs from the TPM story:
President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday took a moment in the afternoon to observe the first total solar eclipse to pass over the United States from one coast to the other since 1918. White House pool reporter Ted Mann, from the Wall Street Journal, tweeted updates from the nation’s capital, which was not in the path of totality and saw a partial solar eclipse that peaked at 2:42 p.m ET. Scientists warned during the lead-up to the eclipse that looking directly at the sun during the phenomenon could result in permanent eye damage, but according to Mann, Trump looked at the sun despite a shouted warning.
To be clear: they had special NASA glasses at the White House. Everyone else had them. Trump’s son, Barron, did not stare into the retina-shredding eye of heaven. His father—the President—did that.
When I was a child, I learned about how eclipses can blind you. That was year one of public schooling, right after the lessons about how to stop fire (hint: rolling) and taking bites out of crime. I’ve known that to not stare at eclipses longer than I’ve known my Dad’s middle name. Trump stared at an eclipse.
It turns out the joke is on all of us, just as the sun’s radiation is. Trump’s policy is to debase the coinage of language, of reality. After Trump, there will be no high, no low, no good, nor bad, nor thinking to make any such distinctions. Trump is not a mere President. He’s a cultural wizard. Donald crashes our human concepts in the same way he smashed through our ideas of what was politically possible. Before Trump, there were rules in human society: “do this” and “Dear Lord, don’t do this.”
Our Donald is as beyond them as the American public is beyond Myspace. A common image after Charlottesville was one of the American public sailing into uncharted waters. But Trump is farther out now in the game of reality, not politics. I don’t know what’s up or down anymore—none of us do—and we have Trump to thank for this. He has set us free of the old ways. Every day can and will be Purge now. I have realized man’s laws and nature’s rules—such as not staring directly at the goddamn sun—are for haters and losers.
His supporters are correct. Trump really is a transformational president. He is not cut from the same cloth as Bush or any other conservative executive of the last fifty years. He is, as they say, one of a kind. Just not in the way they think.
Trump practically called on the youth of the world to stare into the retina-killer without any hesitation.
Horseshoe theory is not true in politics, but it is verifiable in many human domains. The very rich and the very poor are alike in that they dress as they want and neither seem to have real jobs. At some level of drunkenness, the chemical line between being poisoned and sloshed is blurred into nonexistence. There is a tier of hardcore drug abuse where it no longer matters whether the user is actually brave or just too oblivious to make wise decisions.
And at some level of Ralph Wiggum-ness, the distinction between too dull to live, and too dull to outwit, ceases to exist. Well, we have arrived here at last. The Framers and fiction writers imagined it would take an Nietzschean overman to knock the props out from under America. They figured the destroyer of the American republic would be a Julius Caesar-type. In other words, a charismatic authoritarian like TV’s Coach, or some whiskey-blooded Machiavelli who winked at the camera.
To end American government, you’d just need to stop democratic government from being effective. Easily done. But stopping American culture is a thornier task. To do end American culture—really shut the door on it—you’d need to do the following:
You’d have to prove that none of our practices and goals amounted to anything: that Horatio Alger was wrong, that meritocracy was a penny-whistle sham, that democracy was disproven, that the Boy Scouts would cheer the culture war, that the statesmen of legend had all been sharp-toothed attorneys with state machines behind them. To disprove American culture, you would have to create a situation where the saying “In this country, anyone could grow up to be President, even you” was proven nightmarishly wrong.
It would take a billionaire oaf, who was beyond the reach of justice, decorum, or good taste, being put in charge of the world’s oldest large democracy. But that wouldn’t do it; the man would have to be so flexible on nature’s law—on kindergarten levels of self-preservation—that on one fine day he would stare into the sun, despite his servants screaming at him not to do so. That’s what it would take. Trump has done the impossible: he has made himself even blinder. Why would we expect anything else?
This goes in the history books, like the time his son turned over documents through Twitter, or the time before that, when Trump told us the real purpose of the travel ban over Twitter. He really is a man who makes the impossible happen, and if he has purposefully done this to blow our collective minds, he is greater artist than the designer of the eclipse, God Almighty. Yesterday, in the name of the moon, Donald Trump owned himself harder than any of his critics ever could. I salute you, sir.