Our Small-handed Emperor trump Has No Clothes: An Updated Fable
A note: This is satire. Obviously. This is satire because no real president could be as bad as donald j. trump, or whatever he calls himself these days.
“There’s a sucker born every minute”— attributed to P.T. Barnum, though this attribution, too, may be part of the con
“America is living through a fractured fairy tale, in the grip of a lonely and uninformed mad king, an arrogant and naïve princeling, a comely but complicit blond princess and a dyspeptic, dystopian troll under the bridge.”
— Maureen Dowd
“He is thus the all-time record-holder of the Dunning-Kruger effect, the phenomenon in which the incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence.”— David Brooks
“[trump’s] Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale lie”— with apologies to Hans Christian Andersen, who said this, if updated, and who also wrote something like the following story
In our present, troubled times there was an Emperor — “President” he pleaded to be called, in tweet and facebook post — so exceedingly fond of cavernous clothes and long ties that, for some reason we can only guess, they pointed right down to the zipper on his pants. This, even though he spent his money on nothing but the finest clothing, especially for golfing. Not since the enormous William Howard Taft has there been such a carriage on a president, even a so-called one, yet this was odd because this emperor is also a sexist, bigoted jerk, who boasts of grabbing women by the pussy without their consent. He cared nothing about reviewing his soldiers, and patted his Marine guard on the back with two hands, while forced to stand at attention. To this emperor, all his duties were like going to the theatre, sitting on the ceramic gold throne, or going for a ride in the Queen of England’s carriage, or driving a golf cart to keep up with the other NATO leaders, all to show off his new clothes. He wouldn’t even visit our friends the Brits unless they guaranteed him a high school-style pep rally. He had a gigantic coat and the longest ties for every hour of the day, and instead of saying, as one might, about any other ruler, “The King’s in council,” here they always said: “The Emperor’s in his dressing room.”
In the great city where he lived, life was always gay. But for this emperor and his party, well, he and they were against gay people having the same rights as everyone else, so this presented a problem. Every day many strangers came to town, and among them one day came many swindlers, who were not strangers but who were his friends, and he promptly made them his Cabinet and confidants. They let it be known they were weavers, and they said they could weave the most magnificent fabrics imaginable. Not only were their colors and patterns uncommonly fine, but clothes made of this cloth had a wonderful way of becoming invisible to anyone who was unfit for his office, or who was unusually stupid. And “unusually stupid” is just the right phrase here, of course.
“Those would be just the clothes for me,” thought the Emperor. “If I wore them I would be able to discover which women and men in my empire are part of the fake news media, you know, the one that deals in facts not of the alternate variety but of the alternate alternate kind. And I could tell the wise men from the fools,” this fool told himself, for he has an especial fear of wise women and men. “Yes, I certainly must get some of the stuff woven for me right away.” He paid the two swindlers a large sum of money to start work at once, thinking that, in turn, he could swindle the American public and make a killing while president. I mean, emperor.
They set up two looms and pretended to weave, though there was nothing on the looms. The emperor was thrilled by this, because he sat at his empty desk in the Oval Office, meant only for signing in large chicken scratch that which was placed before him by his handlers, and pretended to think and to act. Yes, he signed things others had created and prepared for him, but he had no idea what these things were. He just knew that behind this desk all saw him as emperor. All the finest silk and the purest gold thread which they demanded went into their traveling bags, while they worked the empty looms far into the night. The Donald, the emperor, liked this kind of work, because he, too, thanks to Viagra by the handful was the most industrious of all presidents. He worked harder and more biglier than all the emperors before him, and we know this because every day he would tweet and cry this to the people.
“I’d like to know how those weavers are getting on with the cloth,” the Emperor thought, but he felt slightly uncomfortable when he remembered that those nasty, hating Americans and news media who saw him for what he truly was would not be able to see the fabric. It couldn’t have been that he doubted himself, because he had launched an indeterminate number of missiles on a random country that only recently his spicey wordsmith had reminded him about. No, anyone who launched such missiles into an empty field in the desert, after first calling his pal Putin and asking for permission, could not be weak, small, and insecure. Such a man was a big man, and such a man had the biggest of bombs at his disposal. And would use them without thinking just to show how resolute he was. Yet, he thought, he’d rather send someone else to see how things were going. The whole town knew about the cloth’s peculiar power, and all were impatient to find out how stupid their neighbors were.
“I’ll send my honest old minister to the weavers,” the Emperor decided, so he sent the young husband of his only favorite child: “He’ll be the best one to tell me how the material looks, for he’s a sensible man and no one is more #complicit than he is.”
So the non-honest old (i.e., young) minister went to the room where the two swindlers sat working away at their empty looms.
“Heaven help me,” he thought as his eyes flew wide open, “I can’t see anything at all”. But he did not say so, because his first duty was to continue the family grift upon all of the people all of the time.
Both the swindlers begged him to be so kind as to come near to approve the excellent pattern, the beautiful colors. They pointed to the empty looms, and the poor old minister stared as hard as he dared. He couldn’t see anything, because there was nothing to see. “Heaven have mercy,” he thought. “Can it be that I’m a fool? Can it be that I am #complicit in the biggest lie thrust upon the American people in modern times? I’d have never guessed it, and not a soul must know. Am I unfit to be the sycophant that I have long been positioned to be? It would never do to let on that I can’t see the cloth.”
“Don’t hesitate to tell us what you think of it,” said one of the weavers.
“Oh, it’s beautiful, it’s enchanting.” The old-young minister peered through his money-colored glasses. “Such a pattern, what colors! I’ll be sure to tell the Emperor how delighted I am with it.”
“We’re pleased to hear that,” the swindlers said. They proceeded to name all the colors and to explain the intricate pattern. The old-young toadying minister paid the closest attention, so that he could tell it all to the Emperor in a way that the facile Emperor would understand, in a way that, through obvious, sycophantic lies just like when the Emperor held a public Cabinet meeting, would make the emperor feel like he was the greatest and manliest man in all the land (which is, what those long ties pointing the zipper were all about, after all). And so this fawning, flattering, lickspittle did.
The swindlers, though they weren’t part of the military industrial complex, at once asked for more money, more silk and gold thread, to get on with the weaving, because they knew the Emperor would just bill the American people, as they did for his many personal properties which were now all known as some form of White House, such suckers were they. But all this taxpayer money just went into their pockets and they were pleased. Not a thread went into the looms, though they worked at their weaving as hard as ever. The Emperor had told the people during the campaign that hand weaving would return to the land and all would be employed (though some would be forced back to the mines), and now he tweeted his evidence that this was true. Two swindlers had swindled Emperor Swindle and the self-aggrandizing tweets would flow.
The Emperor presently sent another trustworthy official, one of his sons with lickspittle hair, Thing 1 or Thing 2, we know not which, to see how the work progressed and how soon it would be ready. The same thing happened to him that had happened to the bootlicking minister. Thing 1 or Thing 2 looked and he looked, but as there was nothing to see in the looms he couldn’t see anything.
“Isn’t it a beautiful piece of woven fabric?” the swindlers asked him, as they displayed and described their imaginary pattern and all the fake things that the Emperor could accomplish in his first 100 days.
“I know I’m not stupid, I know all those wild animals wanted to be slaughtered by my gun,” Thing 1 or Thing 2 thought, “so it must be that I’m unworthy of my good office, of these fine, trusting American people with blinders over their eyes. That’s strange. I mustn’t let anyone find it out, though.” So he praised the material he did not see. He declared he was delighted with the beautiful colors and the exquisite pattern. To the Emperor he said, “It held me spellbound, like your voice and your erudition and your words, the best words there are. Bigliest.”
All the town was talking of this splendid cloth (as well as the latest tweet, the obvious lies and obfuscations his ministers told to Congress), and the Emperor wanted to see this for himself while it was still in the looms. Attended by a band of chosen men (maybe a token woman not also a spouse, as long as this person was kept away from vice-Emperor and his prodigious appetites, just because his only favorite child, a girl child, had told him that one woman among many would be as a feminist bone thrown to the masses and they would love him for it), among whom were his two old trusted officials (the brown-nosing husband of his favorite child and Thing 1 and Thing 2 — the ones who had been to the weavers — he set out to see the two swindlers, and to be among his own kind. He found them weaving with might and main, but without a thread in their looms. This empty loom reminded him of how he used words before the American public, while even so the people pretended to believe they were words of meaning and substance. (Well, in truth — and this story is all about truth — only about 30% of the people believed his words, while the rest of the country and world knew this Emperor to be the naked, if still clothed, laughing stock he was.)
“Magnificent,” said the two officials, already duped. “Just look, Your Majesty, what colors! What a design!” They pointed to the empty looms, each supposing that the others could see the stuff.
“What’s this?” thought the Emperor. “I can’t see anything. This is terrible! Press that red button on my desk. Get me a Coca-Cola! Some fake Mexican food! There must at least be a paper in a portfolio with a signature on it, or the people will not believe this!”
“I fool? I unfit be Empororororor? [How I spell Emperor, he wondered?]” he thought to himself, though using words of doubt he felt but did not understand. “What a thing to happen to me, of all people! Me, the greatest American Emperor in all the history thing of the history of this country place that I have a birth certificate from and in which I do not pay taxes like a fool!,” he thought to himself. And now, aloud, he said, “Oh! It’s very pretty. Like all fake things that celebrate me, like my Vice-Emperor especially, it has my highest approval.” And he nodded approbation at the empty loom. Nothing could make him say that he couldn’t see anything, because, he whispered to himself so no one could hear, “That’s what the fake media — ‘shhhhhhh!’ he reminded himself when the words in his head got too loud — wants me to say.”
His whole retinue stared and stared. One saw no more than another, but, #complicit stooges all they all joined the Emperor in exclaiming, “Oh! It’s very pretty,” and they advised him to wear clothes made of this wonderful cloth especially for the great rally in Indianapolis or Dubuque or Upper East West MidValley he was soon to lead. “Magnificent! Excellent! Unsurpassed! Bigliest!” were bandied from mouth to mouth, and everyone did his best to seem well pleased. The Emperor gave each of the swindlers a cross to wear in his piehole, because, though he himself had never cared in the past about Christianity, he knew it could be used to manipulate some of the people and to make them hate other religions against which he intended to go to war. Oh, and he also gave them the title of “Sir Weaver,” because signing meaningless documents with a big black felt tip pen was the thing he did. He liked to put his name on things, for else would people know of his greatness! And, oh those Emperor steaks? The best! Just like his fake university.
Before the rally in Upper East West MidValley the swindlers sat up all night and burned more than six candles, to show how busy they were finishing the Emperor’s new clothes. They pretended to take the cloth off the loom. They made cuts in the air with huge scissors. And at last they said, “Now the Emperor’s new clothes are ready for him.”
Then the Emperor himself came with his ignoblest noblemen, and the swindlers each raised an arm as if they were holding something. They said, “These are the trousers, here’s the coat, and this is the mantle and this the 8-foot long tie,” naming each garment. “All of them are as light as the spider web of lies you weave every day before the people, whether in nitwit tweet or in front of the same teleprompter that, when used by the black guy before you, was not allowed, but all with your patented version of unintelligible, Hannity-Rush-inspired gobbledy-gook. One would almost think he had nothing on, but that’s what makes them so fine.”
“Exactly,” all the ignoblemen agreed, though they could see nothing except for their own #complicity, for there was nothing else to see.
“If Your Imperial Majesty will condescend to take your clothes off,” said the swindlers, “we will help you on with your new ones here in front of the long, narrow mirror, which hides your enormous girth of bigotry from yourself, though not others.”
The Emperor undressed, and the swindlers pretended to put his new clothes on him, one garment after another. Working together, they took him around the waist and seemed to be fastening something — that was his long train — as the Emperor turned round and round before going through the looking glass.
“How well Your Majesty’s new clothes look. Aren’t they becoming!” He heard on all sides, “That pattern, so perfect! Those colors, so suitable! It is a magnificent outfit. It is a magnificent web of lies you have weaved.”
Then the minister of public processions, Heinz Prius, announced: “Your Majesty’s carriage, appropriated from the Queen of England who could not be allowed to have a better, golderer carriage, is waiting outside.”
“Well, I’m supposed to be ready,” the Emperor said, and turned again for one last look in the mirror. “It is a remarkable fit, isn’t it?” He seemed to regard his great orange not-naked costume with the greatest of interest. And to himself, he said, “I might fire that guy; can’t have someone named after an electric vehicle working for me, after all.”
The noblemen who were to carry his train stooped low, as they had practiced time and time again, and reached for the floor as if they were picking up his mantle. Then they pretended to lift and hold it high. They didn’t dare admit they had nothing to hold; they didn’t dare admit that, though clothed, they were also naked in their own way for all to see, as Ivanka’s clothes made in China were insufficient at covering their alternate facts. #MAGA!
So off went the Emperor in procession in his splendid carriage. About 30 of the people in the streets and the windows said, “Oh, how fine are the Emperor’s new clothes! Don’t they fit him to perfection? And see his long tie, like an arrow to the most manliest of manlinesses — where is that thing? Oh, yes, there it is! — in all the land!” Nobody would confess that he couldn’t see anything, for they had already invested too much in all his woven lies to turn back and, besides, at least this naked, orange Emperor before them was not a black man or a white woman. No, admitting the obvious would prove him either unfit for his position, a fool, or a tool or, worse, the reflection of this truth would come back to haunt any who had pretended before. No costume the Emperor had worn before was ever such a complete success.
“But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.
“Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?” said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, “He hasn’t anything on. A child says he hasn’t anything on.”
“But he hasn’t got anything on!” the whole town, except, of course, for 30% of the people, cried out at last.
The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. For he was cold and had shriveled away to nothing. But he thought, “This rally has got to go on.” So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.
— with apologies to the Hans Christian Andersen Center for the original translation, which can be found here:
http://www.andersen.sdu.dk/vaerk/hersholt/TheEmperorsNewClothes_e.html. Yes, with apologies, but, well, this gerrymandered so-called president was raised to the office, and yet he has no clothes, no substance, and this story was clearly written about him…even in its original form.