By Jim Miller
The Trump of Pahrump is dead.
Yes, the world’s most famous brothel owner, Dennis Hof, left this world peacefully last week in bed at the Love Ranch only hours after celebrating at his birthday party/campaign rally. The event was held to aid Hof in his quest to secure a seat in the Nevada state legislature as a Republican, a race he was heavily favored to win. Hof is best known for his HBO reality TV show about the Moonlight Bunny Ranch and his biography, The Art of the Pimp, which gleefully riffs off of the title of the President’s paean to himself.
Just hours before his untimely demise, Hof was cheerfully holding court at an event that featured the trio of porn star Ron Jeremy, Americans for Tax Reform founder Grover Norquist, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio. To top it all off, they were joined by Fox News talking head Tucker Carlson, who offered birthday wishes to America’s Pimp by video feed. It was a good night for Hof who, despite the uncomfortable facts that he is both now dead and accused of rape by several former employees, is still a sure bet to win the election in his heavily Republican district largely populated by good Christian folks committed to Making America Great Again.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Hunter S. Thompson famously referred to his legendary trip in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as “a savage journey into the heart of the American Dream,” and just as his drug-fueled epic captured the capitalism-on-acid that was Sin City in the early seventies, the story of Hof’s birthday party might be the purest distillation of the essence of Trump-era Republicanism that one could find. Here Hof’s vulgar empire built on the sad commodification of human intimacy and the objectification of women with a menacing undercurrent of sexual violence is joined by the Unholy Trinity of the MAGA moment.
Jeremy, a pathetic, waning, white male porn star turned reality show oddity is the embodiment of the degraded hucksterism that sells the vicious hatemongering and authoritarian cruelty of Sheriff Joe and the dog-eat-dog, Social Darwinist economics of the radical libertarian right that Grover Norquist has infused into the DNA of the contemporary Republican Party. It’s a fun mix ready-made for broadcast over Fox News to keep us all distracted while they shrink government down to the size where it can be drowned in a bathtub as the world ends.
Not with a bang but a whimper–or perhaps a shudder, to paraphrase Eliot.
If this sounds too hyperbolic, consider that this surreal turn of events took place just as Senate leader Mitch McConnell was doing the rounds calling for cuts to the “entitlement programs” of Social Security and Medicare to help deal with the huge deficit that is emerging in the wake of Trump’s massive tax cuts for the rich and corporations–denying the connection all the while. Then there are the Republicans who voted to end health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions campaigning as if they had saved said healthcare protections.
And if that seems as obscenely dishonest as the President’s cover story for the torture and murder of a Washington Post journalist by the Saudis (all in the service of an arms deal), then you probably loved hearing Trump’s and some southern senators’ climate change denial in the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael.
This coming alongside their refusal to acknowledge the science brought to us in a UN report informing the world that we have about ten years left to stop the worst-case scenarios of catastrophic climate change which could end up spurring a mass extinction of plant and animal life and putting millions of people at grave risk.
“As if the earth under our feet were an excrement of some sky/and we degraded prisoners/destined/to hunger until we eat filth,” as William Carlos Williams once put it.
One might humbly hope that the current horrifying state of affairs would be enough to get people of good conscience to vote in the coming midterms. But even that is not a certainty as the worst remain full of passionate intensity and the “best” we can muster frequently lack all conviction.
Yet unlike Yeats in his famous poem “The Second Coming,” we don’t need to wonder what rough beasts are slouching toward Bethlehem to be born. They’re staring us right in the face.
Now is not the time to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Let’s vote and keep fighting for something better like our lives depend on it—because they do.