Do you remember where you were that November morning in dusky 2016 when real estate tycoon/reality TV star Donald Trump was elected, by a minority of Americans as the 45th president of the USA?
Of course you do.
Earth-moving tragedies have a way of imprinting themselves on the human mind for all time.
And so it was for many ordinary folks with Trump’s elevation to the world’s highest office. America had given the world the first black President just eight years before, and now they were going to give us its first female president.
I returned to the warm interior of a suite that November morning, waiting to switch from MSNBC to FOX News when Hilary Clinton won, hoping to see the smug face of Sean Hannity when she did, never mind that Ohio also looked to have taken the low road.
The whole of Kenya, with the exception of Obama’s half-brother, Malik Obama, was rooting for Hillary. At the media company where I work, a television anchor even had an ‘H’ bumper sticker on her Mercedes Benz.
Then “the 10 electoral votes of Wisconsin” followed by “Donald Trump to win,” on FOX News; and America had just elected the real Tasmanian devil, thanks to TrumpTaz-mania, to the office he is least qualified to hold.
I heard the world’s collective groan that morning, right there in my living room.
This is what despair feels like.
I did not bother to go to the refrigerator to get a Cola; I swigged vodka straight from the bottle, feeling its fiery slosh down my esophagus, wanting the blackout it offered, the anesthesia it promised from this existential pain brought aboutby that 270+ number on my television.
All the while I knew, even as I fell into a catatonic and dreamless (like America now) sleep, I was going to awaken to the beginning of a nightmare that would run at least four years, in the now-blind USA! USA! USA!
Well, exactly two years ago tomorrow, Donald Trump was inaugurated president on January 20, 2017.
He is still very unpopular with a majority of Americans, and none more so than the demographic of naturalised immigrants who are now citizens of the US.
One of those is Mikhail Iossel, a professor of English at Concordia University in Montreal.
Born in Leningrad, Russia, he then was allowed to leave for the US, thanks to his namesake Mikhail (Gorbachev’s) glasnost and perestroika policies.
For Prof Iossel, the inauguration of Trump felt like ‘déjà vu’ all over again. ‘Back’ to a country run by a would-be dictator – check out the current American government shutdown, the longest in American history, as Trump throws a tantrum over Congress’s refusal to grant him six billion dollars to build a wall.
Arguing that the title ‘President Trump’ makes about as muchsense as ordaining “Archbishop Scooby Doo,” Iossel has written a 380-page book of literary inventive invective – Notes from Cyber ground.
And it is a sharp, ‘fungry’ (fun + angry) and brilliant word treasury, in the tradition of Pope and Swift’s satires of their political contemporaries, that is as thoughtful as it is furious in delivery.
Professor Iossel describes standing outside the door of the 5th Avenue hotel he was staying on that chilly January 19th day of 2017 with other New Yorkers as the Trump motorcade left for La Guardia Airport ( to take him to Washington DC for his inauguration the next day).
‘… we watched in silence, with gloomy and disdainful expressions, the way citizens of a vanquished nation watch the entrance of an occupying army into their capital city, in those old documentary footage…’
Iossel’s key argument throughout the book is that Donald Trump is unfit for the office
Not only on moral grounds of vulgarity, mendacity and a crass sinister non-smiling ludicrousness – especially when one remembers the class of #44, Barack Obama; but also because, as Mikhail argues (and Mueller) investigates, the man has been kompromat (compromised) by the Russians – whose IT hacks and trolls helped get him into the White House.
Away from the polemics, Iossel’s book has amusing asides, like his P & T comparisons:
Putin does not want to be like Trump. Trump does want to be like Putin.
Putin is smart and cynical and deeply corrupt and well-organised.
Smart and stupid
Trump is smart and stupid and deeply corrupt and chaotic.
Putin has a small crew of personal food-tasters traveling with him everywhere.
Trump eats overcooked steaks and bucketfuls of KFC.
Putin is colourless and soft-spoken. Trump is cartoonishly flamboyant and has a voice sounding like a chorus of bullfrog mating calls.
Putin is possibly the world’s second richest man (after Amazon’s Bezos) and very secretive.
Trump is a childishly boastful billionaire (although there are 259 Americans richer than he is).
Trump’s motivation to be president was not to serve the American people, but to be unimaginably famous: just that, nothing more; is that too much to ask?