Revisiting Jimmy Kimmel’s proposal to offer Trump “King of America”
Shortly after the alt-right white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Jimmy Kimmel had a wonderful monologue on his show that I keep referring back to in conversations. It seems to perfectly capture the thinking of many of the 62 million people that voted for the current POTUS. A simple Youtube link is good enough for many contexts, but here’s my attempt to summarize for those that haven’t taken the time.
The first few minutes of the monologue he spends aghast at the press conference held on August 15. In the preceding days, Trump had made a weak attempt to denounce the Neo-Nazis whose recklessness resulted in one of them killing Heather Heyer, and led to the death of two police officers.
On August 15, Trump instead doubled down, defending the Neo-Nazis. As Kimmel puts it: “But if you get a chance, go online and watch the whole press conference from beginning to end; it’s astonishing.” If you haven’t seen it, Vox provides the transcript, and C-SPAN has the video.
Around the 5:47 mark in Kimmel’s monolog, he gets to my favorite part:
I’ve been thinking about this, and I want to speak to those of you that voted for Donald Trump. First of all I want to say: I get it. I actually do. You’re unhappy with the way things were going. You wanted someone to come in and shake things up. You didn’t want business as usual. […] And so this guy shows up riding down a golden escalator. He’s not part of the political establishment. in fact, he’s the opposite of that. He’s a billionaire (…maybe). He’s written books. He’s not politically correct (he’s not … even correct usually). He talks tough. He wants to drain the swamp. Sometimes, he can be funny. He rips into his opponents in a way politicians never do; have never done before.
And you thought: “you know what? This guy’s different and that’s what I want: different! Let’s roll the dice! Let’s get him in there; have him run the country like a business! Cut the dead weight; toughen everyone up! Let’s shake this Etch-a-Sketch hard and start over!”
I’m pretty sure this captures the rationalization that a lot of folks made when they made this vote. They don’t love or even like Trump, but disrespect government just as much, and basically figure Trump and big government deserve each other. Kimmel continues:
So you vote for him. You pick him over Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz and John Kasich and a dozen other Republicans whose names we forgot. And ultimately: he beats them! He strolls in, he beats all of these guys. These guys who have been in politics forever.
And then he beats the ultimate political insider: Hillary Clinton. A woman who’s been running for office — a woman who ran for president of her mother’s uterus in the womb. […] Everyone said he couldn’t. Everyone said he wouldn’t. But he did! And it’s exciting because this is your guy: you picked a horse like 35–to–1 and somehow it paid off! So now he’s the president, and it starts off okay: meets with President Obama, and they seem to have a nice conversation. Then he moves into the White House.
Kimmel then rattles off the list of things that Trump has screwed up that even supporters have to acknowledge, talking how Trump did the following:
- whines about how the media reported the small crowd sizes and the rain at his inauguration
- hires his daughter; hires his son-in-law
- demands an investigation of a voter fraud even though he won the election
- botches a phone call with Prime Minister of Australia
- refuses to shake Angela Merkel’s hand
- talks about Frederick Douglass as if he’s alive
- flip-flops on releasing tax returns
- tries to ban Muslims from entering the country
- compliments the President of the Philippines for murdering drug addicts
- starts a fight with the mayor of London shortly after a terror attack there
- plays golf every weekend after criticizing Obama for playing golf
- shares classified intelligence with the Russians
- tweets a typo at midnight; then wakes up and claims it was a secret message
- praises Jim Comey in October, calls him a coward the following June, and fires him
- lashes out at Jeff Sessions for recusing himself
- hires the Mooch; fires the Mooch
- bans the transgendered in the military without telling anyone in the military he’s doing it
- plays chicken with Kim Jong-un
And then Kimmel concedes that’s just a partial list, pointing out that Trump screws up royally every day (and sometimes more often). It’s hard to keep up with, which he notes. But, back inside the head of the Trump voter:
But you’ve been trying to ignore it, because you don’t want to admit to these smug, annoying liberals that they were right. That’s the last thing you want to do. But the truth is, deep down inside: you know you made a mistake. You know you picked the wrong guy, and it isn’t getting better; it’s getting worse. So, you can do one of two things you can do: you can dig in like Chris Christie at a Hometown Buffet — or, you could treat the situation like you would if you’d put Star Wars wallpaper up in the kitchen: “all right, I got caught up. I was excited. I made a mistake, and now it needs to go.” Well, now he does need to go. So, it’s time for — especially you who voted for him — to tell him to go.
Please, think about it. He doesn’t even want to be president. He’s miserable, but he won’t resign because his ego is too big he can’t do it. So either:
[1.] we impeach him, which could happen, but it might not
— or, we do what he would do in this situation:
[2.] we negotiate. We make a deal.
Kimmel then says “I know this is going to sound nuts…”, and makes the proposal: offer to crown him the first King of America. Make it as powerful as the Queen of England is. Give him a scepter. Build him a castle in Florida, let him play golf and watch TV all day.
I love this monologue. Kimmel implores people to watch Trump’s press conference (the whole thing). I’ll recommend the same thing about Kimmel’s monologue: go on Youtube and watch the whole 12 minutes of “Jimmy Kimmel’s Plan to Save Us From Trump”. The whole thing is astonishing (in a good way), and a better use of time than watching Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield’s ear off.
Kimmel has been getting well-deserved praise for his political style (see New York Times “Colbert, Kimmel and the Politics of Late Night”, also Paste Magazine noting Kimmel passing Fallon in ratings). So much of what has happened recently has had tragic personal relevance (between the health struggles of his newborn son to his long connection to Las Vegas), causing Kimmel to be an unlikely hero in 2017. Kimmel’s rise has been a product of rising in awful circumstances, and Kimmel himself is probably as surprised at anyone that his political voice is so strong now.
And yet, Kimmel’s post-Charlotte monologue was empathetic genius which isn’t forced by his personal circumstances. This clip provides a wonderful mental model to think about Trump voters which is funny, but doesn’t fall into the trap of being mean to the people that voted for him.
As I was finishing this, I realized that someone else probably had a more serious writeup of this by now. So I searched. Yup: Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large wrote: “If you missed Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue on Trump, you shouldn’t”. Emily Yahr published a transcript of the last half in the Washington Post. So, you could go read that. Or look for yet another. Or you could just watch the clip.
Seriously, just go watch the clip.