I originally hadn’t planned to write about President* Pennywise’s latest White Grievance speech. He’s said it all before and I’ve written about it recently in American Carnage 2020. Then, I re-watched the Hitchcock masterpiece North By Northwest and knew what I had to do. This is it.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I’m not comparing Trump to Cary Grant. The only thing they have in common is a love of tanning. Grant’s tan always looked natural whereas Trump’s tan last Friday was artificial even by his standards. Orange is not a natural skin tone: he looked as if he’d fallen asleep in the White House tanning bed (there is such a thing) then slathered on bronzer. Why he thinks this looks good is beyond me. Of course, his hair resembles a dead nutria pelt so what the hell does he know.
One thing the Impeached Insult Comedian has in common with Grant’s North By Northwest character Roger Thornhill is wanderlust. The movie is an extended road trip as Thornhill flees bad guys James Mason and Martin Landau. In Trump’s case, he’s traveling the country whipping up fear and spreading COVID-19 wherever he goes. He *is* the bad guy. FYI, Thornhill’s initials were ROT, which aptly describes the moral rot brought to our politics by the Current Occupant.
As to the content of the speech, it was bizarre. The Kaiser of Chaos needs to expand, not contract his base if he wants to be re-elected. Instead, he seems to be running to be the second president of the confederacy. If he wants to run on monuments to slave owners and traitors, more power to him.
Team Trump might as well turn this image into a banner and drag it along on the campaign trail:
The speech was Steven Miller channeling George Wallace; only the racism was explicit, not implicit. Why they think this is a winning strategy is beyond me. In 1968, Wallace polled as high as 30% before sinking to 14% by election day. It’s another example of Team Trump’s lunatic notion that a sitting president* can run as an insurgent and outsider. It worked for them, just barely, in 2016. Repeat after me: reelection campaigns are always about the incumbent and their record.
Back to the post title. It was the setting for Trump’s speech that inspired thoughts of North By Northwest. Mount Rushmore has long been polarizing. The four-headed presidential tribute rightly enrages the Lakota Sioux as it sits on one of their holiest sites. The only time I ever saw it was as a small child. I loudly declared that it was weird. My father shushed me but my mother laughed because she knew 6-year-old me was right. It *is* weird, y’all.
“In North by Northwest during the scene on Mount Rushmore I wanted Cary Grant to hide in Lincoln’s nostril and then have a fit of sneezing. The Parks Commission [sic] of the Department of Interior was rather upset at this thought. I argued until one of their number asked me how I would like it if they had Lincoln play the scene in Cary Grant’s nose. I saw their point at once.”
The working title of the screenplay was The Man In Lincoln’s Nose. That title was just as weird as Mount Rushmore itself. It’s *almost* as weird as the fact that the 45th president* is an openly racist Impeached Insult Comedian with a dead nutria pelt atop his head. Strike the word almost: nothing is weirder than that.
The last word goes to The Beatles, not Bernard Herrmann:
Strike the not Bernard Herrmann thing: