Letter to Barron

I had a call from an old friend in France right after Donald Trump’s historically slim, brilliantly engineered 70,000 vote Electoral College Victory.

“He won, fair and square.   It was good enough for the slave holders,” one of us observed about the Electoral College.   As far as I know the Electoral College was invented to ensure that wealthy voters in places like South Carolina, which had a majority black population during slavery, had as much say as voters in other mostly white states about who would become the president.   One of the Federalist papers crowed about the brilliance of the Electoral College as a mechanism to ensure that an angry, cynical, selfish, possibly unhinged demagogue never became president– the Electors would serve as a check against an angry lynch mob swayed by a charismatic celebrity crank to misuse democracy at the ballot boxes.

“Well, that worked out brilliantly,” observed my friend in Albi.

After we shared our fears about the reign of a born rich, spoiled, fame-crazed, megalomaniacal, many times failed authoritarian tycoon, fourth child of a ruthless, driven, demanding father, son of German immigrants, Fred Christ Trump [1],  and a nouveau-riche Scottish immigrant mother born in poverty and arrived here aboard the SS Translyvania in 1930, Mary MacLeod Trump, [2] my friend came to the point.

“You have to write a letter to Barron Trump.  Barron is the only hope we have.  You are the only one who could write the letter to persuade him,” he urged me to take his proposal very seriously.  “As serious as cancer,” my friend said grimly.

“Look, first of all, Barron has to hate his father.   Look at the facts.  We hated our fathers for far less than Barron has to hate The fucking Donald for.  Of course, you and I, being contemplative sorts, and now old bastards, have finally become philosophical enough to understand our fathers’ monstrosity and come to terms with it.   But Barron, I mean, he’s a boy, how painful must it have been for him to stand next to Trump as he was bragging about how, if not for millions of dead Mexicans voting against him illegally, he would have easily won the popular vote? 

“You can see how much his current wife hates him, the spokeswoman for anti-bullying.  She’s only staying with him for the money, clearly.  She can’t bear to have him touch her in public, let alone in private.  Barron has got to be even more full of anger, being raised by this hollow, perpetually sucking creature with no soul.  Imagine having that piece of toxic shit as your father, and being a kid.   Barron’s righteous anger and hatred is our only hope.  Certainly you can see that, can you not?”

I tried to dissuade my friend from going any further.  I explained to him that all our phone conversations are now illegally surveilled, the way Obama illegally wiretapped Trump Tower to listen in on Trump’s private conversations with other Birthers who could definitively prove that Obama, who is actually a Muslim, was not born in the United States.  They don’t need permission to do it, I explained, and they have no hesitation to collect any data that can give them legal grounds to take extreme actions.  I urged him to be careful. 

He reminded me that the French had created Les Droits de L’Homme, the doctrine of inalienable, universal human rights enshrined in the fundamental document of the French Revolution in 1789.  The Rights of Man include liberty and equality and a right, indeed a duty, of citizens, to oppose tyranny in all of its forms.  He also pointed out that the French are the Peuple de Lumier, the torch that lit the world’s thirst for our inalienable rights as born equal citizens of the earth.   

I told him that was all well and good, but that I lived in America, the most exceptional nation in history.  I told him it can be very dangerous in America to take a public stand about anything of any importance. 

He told me I was being a typical American pussy.  The fate of the human race was literally at stake, he told me, with this unbalanced frontman for the forces of insane greed and intolerance in office, and I was worried about petty personal danger to myself. 

“You fucking Americans really are a pathetic people,” said this personification of the Peuple de Lumier, the People of Light.  “We supported your revolution against King George, turned the tide as your nation struggled for birth, gave you the statue of Bartholdi’s mother, ‘Liberty Enlightening the World’ and, in the wink of an historical eye, you’ve become a nation of cowardly, persecuted billionaires.   Why don’t you take some of your billions, buy a book of stamps, a sheaf of 100% cotton paper, a Montblanc fountain pen and a bottle of the most expensive ink in the world,  and get started on that letter to Barron.”

I patiently explained to him that while I could afford a Montblanc pen, the world’s most expensive ink and the 100% cotton paper, I wasn’t going to use them to sign my own death warrant by writing the letter to Barron that he was urging me to write.   

“If you couch it skillfully enough, as I’m sure you’d be able to do,” he said, “they won’t be able to use it against you at the trial.” 

I asked him what they would call the letter at my trial.  He was silent for a moment on the French end of the call.   

Exhibit A, I told him.

“Pussy!” he said.  He went on laying out his demonically simple, fiendishly ingenious plan as I protested, for the sake of those listening in on our call.  I’d rather be a pussy than a patriot convicted of treason, I told him. 

“Look, they don’t disembowel traitors anymore, it’s not that Elizabethan horror show where they strip you naked and slowly kill you in front of a jeering crowd of toothless sadists.   Death by lethal injection is quite often painless,” he told me, before reminding me of, and then discounting, the many botched lethal injection jobs that led to long minutes of witnessed agony for the condemned.   

“Plus,” he added, “they let you wear pants, and a shirt, you just have to roll up the sleeve.”

“Be optimistic,” he urged me, “most of the time, from what I can tell, the execution goes without a hitch.” 

I was unable to make any real progress on my end resisting his call to write the letter to Barron.   I finally told him I would think about it, put pen to paper, see what I could do.   Thankfully, in our conversations since, he has not been too insistent protesting my long delay completing the letter to Barron.   Like the rest of us, I suppose, he has grown glassy-eyed watching the Reality TV Elizabethan horror show that is the Trump presidency.

We had a mutual friend, the youngest of three boys, a giant two year-old.  The guy reminded me of Trump, the fourth of five children growing up, another peevish attention seeker.  This mutual friend of ours was maniacal about getting the best possible deal for himself in literally every situation.  It wasn’t truly satisfying to him unless his gain came at someone else’s expense — the other person’s loss was as important to him as his win.  The world, for him, was a zero sum game, every encounter an opportunity to eat or be eaten.   My friend now living in France quickly took to referring to him as “Motherfucker”.  I always knew who he was talking about.  In the end his cannibalistic friendship exhausted me and I called his mother to explain why.

She sighed, and told me that she appreciated me hanging in there for so many years.  She knew how difficult he could be, and how many once close friends he had already lost.   I was, apparently, the last of them.  She thanked me for being his friend so long and asked me if I had any suggestion about helping him.  I told her I was at a loss, since any change has to come from a realization of the need for change and that her youngest son was as resistant as anyone I’d ever met to genuine self-knowledge.   She acknowledged that he was very difficult, superhumanly stubborn, very unhappy, very lonely, and very angry about it all.  She told me she understood everything I had told her and asked only one thing of me: don’t close the door on him.  “If he tries to make amends with you, at least hear him out.”  I told her I would.

She was a wonderful woman with a great spirit.  I wrote about her here.  I sent those words to his oldest brother, who had emailed me that their mother, my old friend, had passed away, at 98.   My former old friend wrote to thank me graciously for the kind words about his mother, to praise my ability to conjure her with words, and to blame me for my stubborn refusal to remain his lifelong friend.

The thing about people who would rather kill you than admit they could be at fault about anything — they will eventually actually kill you.  Even as I know this with grim certainty, I hesitate to complete that impossible letter to Barron.  The Statue of Liberty hides her face as my friend in France discreetly hides his disappointment. 


[1]  “That’s why I’m so screwed up, because I had a father that pushed me pretty hard,” he wrote in his 2007 book, Think Big.    source

The clever, superior writer for Politico wrote this irresistible sentence in the piece linked above:   

Judging by the biographical material, created largely by an aggressively unreliable narrator and those in his employ, the 45th president of the United States would seem to be the product of one domineering parent.


[2]   Typically, Trump blames his mother for some of his failings, while praising her (in another book nobody heard of):

“Part of the problem I’ve had with women has been in having to compare them to my incredible mother, Mary Trump,” he wrote in The Art of the Comeback. “My mother is smart as hell.”   source

He has tweeted glowingly, if identically, about her several times:

On Twitter, he has called her “a wonderful person,” “a great beauty” and not much more. “Advice from my mother, Mary MacLeod Trump: Trust in God and be true to yourself,” he tweeted on February 5, 2013, and also on July 30, 2013October 24, 2013, and October 25, 2013, and also on March 21, 2014May 15, 2014 and January 28, 2015, the same thing every time, a cut-and-paste aphorism ready for periodic posting—which itself was recycled from a page in his 2004 book, How to Get Rich. “I didn’t really get it at first, but because it sounded good, I stuck to it,” he wrote of this counsel. “Later I realized how comprehensive this is.”    source

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