Performance Art?

Everyone has heard the term “jump the shark.” It got its start from a Happy Days episode with Fonzi (Henry Winkler) actually jumped a shark. It represented the moment when the show was officially on its way down. It has come to symbolize when a fad or trend has outlived its usefulness.

If we look Donald Trump through the prism of a reality television star he makes a lot more sense. A lot of people kept waiting for the moment he would pivot and take the presidency seriously. They assumed he would rise to the moment. He would understand the awesome responsibility of the office. That never happened.

We’ve had these people before. Howard Stern exists that way on the radio. Rush Limbaugh does too. Professional wrestlers make their living doing this. Performance artists like Andy Kaufman turned it into an art form. Some people loved it. Some people hated it. Still, you wanted to tune to see what they would do or say next.

There was always one moment when they were at their most brilliant. There was also the moment where they went too far. Who knows when those moments were for Trump. I’d suspect putting kids in cages could qualify as one of those moments. Tossing paper towels to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico is certainly a fan favorite. Something tells me that the pandemic was his jumping the shark moment.

You could always consider it funny when it wasn’t happening to you. It was always THOSE people. Maybe it was women, people of color, or farmers. Maybe it was the small business owner that got crunched by his tariffs. Most of us aren’t any of those people. So, we could shake our head, chuckle, and laugh along with him. Either way, we felt we needed to watch to see what would happen next. The pandemic changed all of that.

Happy Days kept going a little while longer after the shark. Great performers always keep going even when they know they’ve already reached their apex. If Trump is anything he is a great performer. He plays the heel better than just about anyone. He did it again this week in Omaha. He held a rally in front of Airforce One and bussed out hundreds to come watch in freezing temperatures. He left on Airforce One and the crowds. They waited for busses that were not ready to bring them back.

At last count, seven people were hospitalized with hypothermia. It was just another in a long line of events that prove that Trump just doesn’t give a shit about anyone. Trump may not understand much, but give him this: he understands human nature. Even the highest of brows love to see the train wreck. Few have ever had the courage to be the train wreck. Trump lacks that certain something that most of us have. It might be pride. It might be self-awareness. Maybe it’s shame. Either way, he doesn’t have it.

This is why this show keeps going on until someone pulls the plug. He whispered about someone assassinating Joe Biden so he could get a dig at Kamala Harris. His surrogates continue to throw out conspiracy theories. He gaslights. His health care bill and tax plan are coming. No really, they are coming in just two weeks. Oh, the election is next week? Well, never mind. He’ll release them when he releases his taxes. There is no bottom. There never was. He will keep going until someone pulls him off the stage.

Author: sbarzilla

I have written three books about baseball including The Hall of Fame Index. I also write for You can follow me on twitter @sbarzilla.

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