A Presidential Confession?

It isn’t easy being Donald Trump, and I can say that with confidence — because I’m Donald Trump. And no, I’m not being sarcastic about how hard it is. But here’s the problem: When I am being sarcastic, nobody can tell.

Stephen Colbert got rich and famous pretending to be a right-wing blowhard with an idiotic opinion on every topic. Comedy Central viewers had no trouble understanding that every sentence out of his mouth meant the opposite of its literal meaning. And they laughed till their ribs ached.

Where do you think Colbert came up with that idea? He stole it from me. I practically invented parody. I’ve spent years saying ridiculous things with a straight face. But everyone took me seriously, no matter what I did.

Remember when I was in the private sector? I would sit down with some big bankers and tell them, completely deadpan: “I’ve gone bankrupt several times. So it would be really, really smart to lend me a hundred million dollars.”

I mean, sarcasm can’t get any more obvious than that, right? I was always hoping to get a big laugh. But it never worked.

What always happened was that the bankers would look at me with serious expressions, confer briefly and say: “We’d love to. But maybe you’d like $200 million?” And they wouldn’t let me leave until they had cut me a check!

When I ran out of money while running a moneymaking machine, also known as a casino, I thought everyone would grasp the comic brilliance of my act. But no. I kept doing my impersonation of a deluded, incompetent tycoon, and people with large sums of money kept taking me for a business genius.

Being a dedicated comedian, I decided to take my act to the next level: I would run for president as a total goof, making preposterous statements, doing clownish things and giving satire-starved Americans something to laugh about. I mean, it worked for Julia Louis-Dreyfus in “Veep,” didn’t it? She won six Emmys as a vain, bumbling, power-hungry politician who is completely lacking in self-awareness.

Sound like anyone you know? You bet it does. But did I win an Emmy? No, I got the presidency! Which I didn’t even want!

I thought I had made my game blindingly obvious during the campaign. I said Ted Cruz’s dad was in on the JFK assassination. I said the unemployment rate was 42%. I said I would win the Hispanic vote. C’mon! Who could possibly miss the joke?

Well, 63 million people, apparently. Makes me wonder how I went wrong. Every time those folks at my rallies cheered instead of laughing, I responded with something even more obviously untrue. Like, “We’re going to build a wall, and Mexico is going to pay for it.”

Could sarcasm be any more obvious? I always tried to say it in the tone of a sullen 15-year-old being asked how his classes were going: “Oh, fabulous, Dad! I just love my teachers. And I’m going to make valedictorian.” But irony was lost on these people.

Even after I ended up in the White House, no one could grasp that I don’t believe anything I say. I tried to highlight how puny my inauguration crowd was sending my press secretary, Sean Spicer, out to insist they were bigger than Obama’s. And the news media reported it like he actually meant it! Do they think I’m blind?

Everyone knows that Kim Jong Un is one of the most vicious dictators who ever lived. Guy executed his own uncle! So when I said, “We fell in love,” I assumed everyone would realize that what I meant was: “Can’t stand him. Total douche. And a worse hairdo than mine.” But noooooooo.

The other day, I had what I thought was some great new standup material to illustrate how badly I’ve handled the coronavirus crisis. I suggested you could cure the disease by shining bright lights and injecting disinfectants, thinking no one could possibly think I was serious.

But I was wrong! Some guys drank some cleaning products, and the maker of Lysol put out a statement saying, “Under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).” Well, duh.

This is another chance for my critics to accuse me of being a clueless fraud. All I can say is: It looks like satire is dead. But I really didn’t mean to kill it.

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Steve Chapman
Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune. His twice-a-week column on national and international affairs, distributed by Creators Syndicate, appears in some 50 papers across the country.