Donald Trump and the art of the con

Trump brings out two of the Right’s worst tendencies: the inability to distinguish between entertainers and political leaders, and the habit of treating politics as an exercise in emotional vindication…

Trump may be made out of cookie dough — he has a lot more in common with Paris Hilton than with Henry Ford — but he plays an iron man on television, and a certain sort of man — forgive me for pointing this out — finds the theatrical preening of Trump’s alpha-male act erotically compelling. (Properly understood, The Apprentice and its ilk constitute a subgenre of pornography.) That is not entirely surprising: We live in an age of economic insecurity, and it is attractive to imagine having Trump’s wealth and confidence, even if neither of those rests on as sure a foundation as Trump would have us believe. It’s better to be the boss — to be the man who says, “You’re fired!” — than the man who has to go home emasculated and face his wife’s disappointment.

Trump’s performance-art character is butch in the sense that certain gay icons are butch — bikers, cowboys, and the rest of the Village People — and appealing to certain men for similar reasons, one of which is overcompensation for threats against their virility. That often descends into outright camp — who could have guessed that Queer as Folk would have provided Charlie Hunnam with only his second-most-homoerotic role? — and Trump’s race, if it actually happens, will be as campy a campaign as can be imagined.