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United States

Feb 15, 2016

Rundle: porn stars, Jeb's mummy issues and Scalia in South Carolina

You actually can't make this stuff up. Trump is the frontrunner, signing babies (yes, you read that right), Jeb wants to go back into the womb, Scalia kicks the bucket. Sorkin, eat your heart out.

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Down at the Ogeechee Walmart, Donald Trump was on the screen, on all the screens, hundreds of flat screens in one corner of the vast shop/hangar. He was at some stadium rally in Louisiana, and he was kissing a baby. Then he signed it. The loving parents held it up in a Renaissance baby Jesus pose, and Trump made a flourish with a pen.

“That baby is now a cheque,” I said to no one in particular .

“Whut?”

“Nothing …”

In the electronics aisle, where I was waiting for an “associate”, i.e. a middle-aged woman on minimum wage, it was all coming apart. A large black gal with a couple of kids in her shopping trolley and a name tattoo of a dead man reaching up her neck to the underside of her jaw — Hyron i.m. x.x.20xx — was trying to buy a laptop for her class. But she didn’t know what to ask for, didn’t have a clear picture what a laptop was. Neither did the aged white associate helping her, a woman about 4’8″. They turned the machine this way and that. “I don’t know where the CD goes,” the associate said. “Like how do I get the internet on it?” A second associate came. He didn’t know either.

Walmart, set up as a type of barn to pile ’em high and sell ’em cheap, now sells a dizzying array of technical equipment, but its staff don’t have the expertise to sell it. They can’t afford computers, by and large, or the education that would make them part of their lives. The scene was indicative in its way — white and black together, no division, gathered round an object, trying to work it out, shades of Norman Rockwell. Or Naipaul’s Mimic Men. There’s a basic dysfunction, spreading across the country, a mismatch between aspiration and achievement. The shops can’t sell, the Uber guy getting me there got lost, on a straight road, with a GPS, political debate is around cuss words. People want simpler lives back, but with cool phones.

Donald Trump was on full face, the gold hair slicked down, the mouth open, like a Luna Park laughing clown. “Trump Univision Miss Universe Settlement” the crawl said, noting that the candidate for president of the United States had made a deal over a beauty pageant. I didn’t need the sound to know what he was saying: “They’re taking all our money, all our jobs, they’re in China, India, Vietnam, we’re going to bring them all back, it’s going to be so beautiful …” soundless words echoing across the goods of the world, made by Chinese, soon by robots. No one seemed that interested in the Donald. If his starry-eyed supporters are a sort of outer ring beyond even the Tea Party, then some, many or all of the Walmart crowd are one ring beyond that, people living deep in country, the election a soundless wallpaper around.

For those with the sound up, it was a hell of a weekend. It had kicked off with a hell of a Democratic debate between Hillary and Bernie, in which the latter’s remark at his New Hampshire victory speech — “They have thrown everything at us but the kitchen sink … and I think the kitchen sink is on the way” — was proven right. Word went round on Friday that the Clintons were going to attack Bernie Sanders’ civil rights record. Since Bernie was doing civil rights organising while Hillary was working for arch-conservative Barry Goldwater (youthful misstep), that counts as swift-boating, and it was right on time: Clinton supporter and civil rights hero John Lewis said he didn’t remember Sanders (who was organising in Chicago, while Lewis was in the South), a photo of Sanders organising had its authenticity questioned, and in the debate Clinton attacked Sanders … criticising Obama. There. Are. No. Words. “Secretary, only one of us on this stage ran against Barack Obama, and it wasn’t me.” He might also have added that, in 2008, when trying to win the hillbilly West Virginia primary, Hillary had wondered aloud whether Obama could really represent”‘hard-working white people”, but he didn’t, because he is pulling his punches, by and large, for the greater good. That seems to be working. The latest poll for the Nevada caucus shows them at 45% each.

Meanwhile, on the other side, the ads just kept on coming. So many ads, ’cause everyone is aimed at everyone else. Trump attacked Cruz as a liar, Bush attacked Trump as a thug, and Cruz had a skit, as they say, in which a group of people in an AA-type circle in basement talk about their buyers’ remorse over supporting DC conservatives. Just before a geek in a Rubio T-shirt comes in and says “room for one more?”, a somewhat weathered blonde says “maybe you shouldn’t just go for a pretty face”, somehow identifying faded beauties with Cruz himself.

Lameish sketch, it got a lot more interesting when it became clear that the blonde was in fact Amy Lindsay, star of classic straight to VHS/DVD/YouTube films such as Confessions of a Lap Dancer, Insatiable Desires and about 30 others, at which point Cruz pulled the ad and cable news went ape shit.

Dear oh dear, and we were all going to be so good this weekend. But there were so many movie titles for news anchors to group in three to quote from: “Star of movies such as Insatiable Obsession, Bikini Airways and Radio Erotica…”, “The actress has starred in movies such as Intimacy, Casting Couch, and Femalien II” and almost everyone name-checked the hotel porn space Western Timegate: Tales of the Saddle Tramps. Lindsay, inevitably, turned out to be a Christian Republican who was tossing up between Trump and Cruz. CNN interviewed her that afternoon: “Have you endorsed anyone yet?” asked Jake Tapper. “No, I’ll be making an announcement later,” said Lindsay, deadpan. Or Amy Lindsay ‘20, as I suppose we should start calling her.

Great warm up to yet another Republican debate, and then, my God, Justice Antonin Scalia went and died. As some twitterwit said, “It’s like this is the last season of ‘America’, and the writers have just gone crazy”. The death of a portly, sedentary 79-year-old who had an extraordinary life was instantly labelled a “tragedy”, and it occasioned a call by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for a nomination to be delayed until 2017, so that “the people can have their say”, an incredible piece of chutzpah bullshit that has become the new Republican rallying point. Obama for his part made it clear in a short, dignified speech that he would be sending a nominee to the Senate for hearings.

Dignified was a note that didn’t hold long, as the Republican debate loomed. Batshit crazy was the word. It was the most delicious, watchable, extraordinary meltdown that the primary-voting system has produced. In the god-fearing, Bush-family worshipping state of Sath Cahralaina, Donald Trump channelled that other great New York skyscraper aficionado King Kong and tore the place up. With the audience feeling unconstrained by rules against booing and filling the hall with noise, Trump assailed Jeb for being hopeless, a wimp, and then went on the attack against his bro crossing the line that hasn’t been gone near in any debate. “Bush lied. There were no WMDs, we went into a stupid war and we destabilised the Middle East.” “My brother kept us safe!” “9/11 happened on his watch! He ignored the advice from the CIA. I lost hundreds of friends that day!” as the booing drowned out the speakers. It was extraordinary, the Republicans all but melting, “aieeeeeee my face!”, in the face of the truth.

Then it went bizarre, as Jeb became some sort of man-baby. “He’s attacking my family again!” he said, as if they were shut-ins who lived in Duluth. “I’ve got to believe my dad is the greatest guy alive” and then “When I was born I looked up and had the good luck to see the most wonderful mom in the world …”  which is just ewwwwwwwww, and a shudder went through the audience. Trump, unflappable: “She should run.” After that there was a five-minute exchange about whether Trump had said “pussy”, which was indistinguishable from kindergarten. “I didn’t say blank, I said blank,” said Trump. “I mean, I actually said blank and they beeped so it looked like I said a rude word.” The top tweet at this point was from Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who said, “This is insane.” It was. Jeb ex-utero, selecting his momma as VP if Amy Lindsay was not available, Trump sounding like Chomsky, stumbling only when asked how he’d restore jobs, blustering and repeating himself. Everyone said he’d blown it in SC. Everyone has said that before. Should he humble Bush in SC, the Jebstar must be all but gone.

Back at Walmart the next day — they’d sold me the wrong thing — the thing might as well never have happened. ESPN was on the teevs, expert commentary and interpretation, amid ads for diseases (“Side effects may include sudden heart failure and death”). The Uber driver — “I gave up my personal training business to do Uber; now they’ve lowered the rates and I’m going broke,” he gabbled — got the address and I waited for another one at the Waffle House. “You watching the primary?” I asked my 220-pound waitress. “Sure, honey, but I can’t vote,” she chuckled, pouring me coffee, her tattooed arms bare in the Southern warmth. Felon. I looked around. The place was like a women’s prison. Somewhere here, Amy Lindsay will find a VP choice in 2020. Insatiable Desire all over.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle

Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle is Crikey's correspondent-at-large. He was co-editor of Arena Magazine for 15 years, and has written four hit stage shows for Max Gillies, two musicals, numerous books and produced TV shows including Comedy Inc and Backberner.

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20 comments

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20 thoughts on “Rundle: porn stars, Jeb’s mummy issues and Scalia in South Carolina

  1. Liamj

    Wow, just wow, Mr G. Hilarious & horrifying, and we’re manacled to these maniacal morons.

  2. Graham R

    Oh God that was funny, Mr Rundle – and all you had to do was report what happened.

    And this is how Democracy is conducted in the most powerful nation on Earth. Yeesh.

  3. Jussarian

    When are you going to Burlington, Guy? Is it really as great as it sounds? Maybe you can get your laptop peripheral there too.
    http://www.thenation.com/article/bernies-burlington-city-sustainable-future/

  4. Venise Alstergren

    “but its staff don’t have the expertise to sell it. They can’t afford computers, by and large, or the…” This is a tragic scenario.

    Brilliant, as usual, GR in top gear.

  5. Jaybuoy

    Bernie might be the last man standing..surely the Dem’s wont try to gazump him with Biden or Gore..The bern is doing a Bradbury..

  6. AR

    LeccyLardy@9 – that image from Southpark of Kenny trying to return I did not need !
    As swiftboating proved, Truth has no separate existence from perception so the Don calling out shrub got boos coz..duhh something..something shiny.

  7. rhonaj

    Barbara Bush knows the Bushes et al have incredible power, always in perpetuum,, and they do not need another Bush presidency. She apparently queried JEB’s run. The Republicans it seems are in Neddie Seagoon’s world, Eccles and perhaps Moriarty,s reality. Keep it up Guy mabye Bush could employ Bluebottle as a sidekick.

  8. archibald

    Top stuff, Guy. The Walmart/Uber stuff is illuminating. Reduce jobs to minimum wage, make education and vocational training the responsibility of the individual and then price it beyond their means. Result: a workforce replete with people unable to provide the consumer the goods and services that the whole circus is trying to move. Businesses like this would normally fail in the presence of well run competition.

    As the Walmart/Uber principals cash pile surpasses that of Uncle Scrooge, the community that supports this whole house of cards is rendered dysfunctional. If the US were a closed system it would be choking by now on its own greed but – what luck! – they can still hoover up the “best and brightest” from countries that actually educate their citizens so they are not yet reaping what they sow.

  9. Wexford

    Wonderful reference, AnisaS!

  10. John Newton

    It’s a long way from the demos. As in Democracy

  11. tonysee

    @ Electric Lardyland: there’s no comeback to that (on more than one level)

  12. Electric Lardyland

    And zut, is that Barbara running away from Jeb? Before his urge to return becomes too overwhelming?

  13. Electric Lardyland

    Tonysee: maybe it’s the third option; I will die happy.

  14. Electric Lardyland

    I would find it sort of ironic, if Trump’s support collapsed, because he had the gall to speak the truth to the Republican faithful about the Iraq war. As opposed to his support constantly rising, for spouting an endless flow of self-righteous and vindictive effluent.

  15. tonysee

    Side effects may include sudden heart failure and death.

    Love those ads. Schizophrenia in 30 seconds. Do you believe the beautifully rendered hype that this product will make every aspect of your life like your fondest dream or that it may kill you?

    So much metaphor.

  16. MW108

    Fucking brilliant. I’m sending that to all my relies back in the states.

  17. AnisaS

    Lubo: Do you mean that there are two Chomsky-s?

  18. zut alors

    It’s a pity Shorten’s zingers don’t measure up to The Donald’s re Barbara Bush ie: “She should be running.”

    This is packed with marvellous material Guy, you couldn’t make it up.

  19. AnisaS

    Thanks Guy. Beautifully evocative as usual, but oh so distopian. As well, the scene around the electronics in Walmart reminds me of the opening scene of 2001 A Space Odyssey (not that I have seen it for a few years) except without the subtext of impending cognitive development.

  20. Lubo Gregor

    Trump sounding like Chomsky…the word pictures just keep coming..

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