Donald Trump loves Citizen Kane but maybe doesn’t understand it



There is very little Combat! blog today, because I have been assiduously preparing my application for the Clickhole writing fellowship and assiduously stretching my supraspinatus in yoga. In the midst of all that, bills must be paid. So I have neglected most of my duties today in favor of gross commerce. Fortunately, A. Ron Galbraith has ridden to the rescue. He recently sent me this unsettling essay on Donald Trump and his favorite movie, Citizen Kane.

You know Citizen Kane—it’s the one about a guy who inherits a fortune at age 25 and goes from playboy to media magnate to politician, before he flames out spectacularly and tells his supporters the election is rigged. Trump seems to have sympathized with the pathologically ambitious plutocrat without realizing he was also supposed to hate him. That’s one of the hypotheses Anthony Audi puts forward:

Trump either fails to see the moral emptiness at Kane’s core, or else he does, and it doesn’t strike him as exceptional. Either way, however we spin it—wherever we draw the line of his self-delusion—Trump is admitting that he’s every bit as hollow as Charlie Kane; every bit “the empty box” (as Welles called him); every bit the liar and narcissist and demagogue.

“And it doesn’t strike him as exceptional” is economical as fuck, brah. Kudos to Audi for so elegantly creeping us out. We’ll be back tomorrow with news from Missoula’s deeply problematic Day of the Dead parade.



Elocution bombshell: Trump saying “big league,” not “bigly”

Donald Trump expresses the same emotion as the : / emoticon

Donald Trump expresses the same emotion as the : / emoticon.

Donald Trump is the best thing to happen to impressionists since at least George W. Bush, if not since Nixon himself. In addition to talking like a Jerky Boys character, his word choice is so consistently weird as to offer anyone who mimics him a readymade vocabulary: tremendous, (h)uge, great, believe me, trust me, you’ll see, I do not have a personality disorder, I’ll sue you for defamation, et cetera. Maybe none of the entries in this lexicon is as strange as “bigly,” a word Trump says—or people think he says—a lot. According to the New York Times and linguist Dr. Susan Lin, however, he’s actually saying “big league.” I thought we all agreed on that.

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Friday links! Know your audience edition

Donald Trump begins to bomb at the Al Smith dinner.

Donald Trump begins to bomb at the Al Smith dinner.

Donald Trump got booed at the Waldorf last night, when his remarks at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner went from sharp to blunt. A couple of his early jokes killed, but then he called Hillary Clinton corrupt and opined that she was “pretending not to hate Catholics” by attending the charity event. See, when you tell the crowd the next act hates them, they look on you with suspicion. Today is Friday, and you’ve got to know your audience. Won’t you peek between the curtains with me?

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Ryan Zinke should rescind his endorsement of Donald Trump


In last night’s debate with Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump refused to say whether he would accept the results of the election. “I will look at it at the time,” he said. “I will keep you in suspense.” Let us take a moment to consider the ego that assumes the whole country would wait, in suspense, for him to ratify the president we voted for. Now that we’re done with that, let’s move on to disgust. It is disgusting for a major-party candidate to tell America, with no evidence, that its election is rigged. Trump is yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, but on a larger and potentially more destructive scale. Republicans who have not done so already should withdraw their endorsements of him.

Rep. Ryan Zinke (R–MT) is in a position to do that at very little cost. A recent Lee Newspapers poll finds him 13 points ahead of his opponent, Denise Juneau. It seems unlikely that many of his supporters find him objectionable but are voting for him because he endorsed Trump. Rescinding his endorsement would be an act of conscience in keeping with his stated commitment to defending American democracy and values. You can read all about it in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!

What if the “rigged” election doesn’t end Trump’s campaign?

Donald Trump discusses his vetting system for female cabinet members.

Donald Trump describes his vetting system for female cabinet members.

I though I’d never say this, back in January, but I have had enough of this election. What started out as the most interesting contest in recent memory retains its powers of fascination, but now it fascinates like the video from your colonoscopy. The end is predictable; we’re just looking closely at the shit. But what if the conclusion, while forgone, is not the conclusion at all? What if losing the general election is just another step in Donald Trump’s march toward Washington? It’s a farfetched idea, but Trump laid the groundwork for it this weekend, when he stepped up his insistence that the election is “rigged.”

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