Back in July, when we all were younger and America had not yet lost its innocence, I wrote this:
It's far from clear that [Donald] Trump literally means all the crazy things he says. Take his announcement that he won't just build a border wall but will make Mexico pay for it. I can't dismiss the possibility that Trump actually thinks he can do this. But it's easier to take it as an over-the-top bit of braggadocio that's meant more as poetry than policy. It's bad poetry, of course, but the world has always contained more bad verse than good.
It's time I issued a mea culpa. Not because Trump doubled down on that business about Mexico paying for the wall—like I said, it was always a possibility that he was serious—but because I underrated the quality of his art. Bad poetry, schmad poetry: This is an amazing show.
Trump has become a one-man burlesque of the entire political process. If Trey Parker and Matt Stone were to write a South Park where Eric Cartman runs for president, they wouldn't have to work hard on the script: They could have him do and say exactly the same things as Trump without changing a comma. A Trump presidency would be horrible for pretty much the same reasons a Cartman presidency would be horrible, but his campaign is a compelling cartoon for the same reasons a Cartman campaign would be a compelling cartoon. A thin-skinned insult comic is running for president by trolling people on Twitter, giving out a rival's private phone number, and bragging about the crony-capitalist corruption that helped make him rich, and he's being rewarded with soaring poll numbers. It's Bulworth rewritten by cynics.
Trump may not intend to be doing this, but in these death-of-the-author days I doubt that matters. Indeed, it might help. In other pop-weirdo campaigns, from Jello Biafra's to Kinky Friedman's, the candidate usually winks at the audience. But Trump believes his own act, and that's what makes him the perfect parody of every other power-hungry egomaniac in America. And I thought this was bad poetry? I would never cast a ballot for Trump, but I might vote for a candidate who pledges to make Trump our poet laureate.