Recently I was pondering Donald Trump’s inexplicable behavior on the campaign trail, allegedly on behalf of GOP nominee Mitt Romney. I was only able to conceive of two possible explanations that would account for his ludicrous Orly Taitz act: either he is secretly working for Obama or he’s actually a covert performance artist working on a long, episodic political satire of some sort.
Then it hit me.
I’m still in the process of nailing down all the details, a process made difficult because the trail is so well-covered, but the inescapable conclusion is this: the man we think is Donald Trump isn’t. The real Trump, the man born in 1946 to Fred and Mary Anne Trump in Scotland, the man who attended Wharton and established a lucrative career as a real estate developer, is lying on a beach somewhere soaking up the sunshine and living the good life.
Available evidence suggests that in the early 1980s Trump was approached by a wealthy, famous man who wanted to buy his identity. Lock, stock and barrel. This figure, who was actually not very well known to Trump, handed him a wad of cash and told him to disappear. Forever. Trump had plenty of money, of course, but he wasn’t like the sociopathic one percenter caricature we see on TV saying “you’re fired!” every week and conducting birther tours “on behalf of” the Republican hopeful. That guy needs ever-increasing infusions of money like a meth whore needs that next hit, but the real Donald Trump was actually the sort of man who, like most humans, felt that you could have “enough” money and that at some point it was okay to declare victory, cash your chips and spend the rest of your days living the good life. That making money was a means to an end, not the end itself. The best guess is that right now, the real Donald Trump is probably using his millions to improve the lives of the people in whatever Caribbean paradise he has chosen to call home.
The famous, wealthy man, the man we now call Donald Trump, needed an established persona that he could use to pull off the biggest gag, the most outrageous stunt, the most epic performance art/comedy/prank in the history of Anglo-American popular culture. Bigger than War of the Worlds. Bigger than the Piltdown Man hoax and Rosie Ruiz and Sidd Finch and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and The Hitler Diaries and the Loch Ness Monster and the Cardiff Man and crop circles and the Roswell alien autopsy combined. Paul is Dead, times a Trumptillion. The goal, it seems, was to conduct a long-running, serialized public satire on the role of wealth in a materialistic, media saturated society.
This man was a genius of the highest order and while he may not have been able to imagine all the specific nuances of modern celebrity culture, he could sense which way the wind was blowing. He loved inhabiting characters and dramatis personae art and had a history of successfully hoaxing large audiences with clever, insightful inside jokes, and it is probably fair to describe him as equal parts comedian and public intellectual. In Trump, he had the foundational core for a hyper-rich buffoon character that could be inflated to cartoonish proportions, a colossal douchebag looming over America like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon.
Who is this wealthy, famous man? Well, in 1984 he staged his own death, but not before he had spent several years developing a prototype for his eventual Trump character. That prototype was Tony Clifton and the man currently portraying Trump on television and campaign circuit is none other than Andy Kaufman.
These pictures illustrate the bridge in a way that I think makes the connection quite clear.
It should be noted how important the Clifton character was in the development of Kaufman’s grand idea. Clifton was a boorish, obnoxious, untalented ass of a lounge singer, and when the time came to launch the Trump character all Kaufman had to do was smear a layer of glibness on Clifton – essentially providing him with enough social grace that he didn’t gnaw the faces off those he met at parties – and change “lounge singer” to “real estate developer.”
The result – and this part barely needs saying – has been nothing short of brilliant. America has been completely and utterly duped since the midpoint of the Reagan years and not only is the project not getting stale, Kaufman has continually updated and reinvented the persona so that it remains fresh and vital as the culture evolves.
One wonders how much longer Kaufman will keep up the ruse, though. It’s worth noting that I wouldn’t have figured this all out in the absence of his recent string of birther performances while “campaigning” for Romney. Kaufman has always loved irony, and what’s more ironic than using your hoax character to do an extended performer on the “Obama is a Kenyan” hoax? Brilliant, double-reverse stuff there. If he all of a sudden begins taking up the 9/11 truther cause in coming months, we’ll have reason to suspect that he’s ramping up for a big reveal, probably announcing his true identity in some sort of grand media spectacle.
There is still much to be uncovered about the Trump Hoax and I anticipate posting more on the story as details become available.