I’ll start off on a somber note, friends: The apocalypse may be closer than we think. How do I know? Well, thousands of years ago, back through the swirling dusts and mists of time, the most ancient of scrolls foretold it: “When The Burnt Sienna Man in The Great Golden Tower is Right Twice In Two Days, Thou Shalt Look to the Heavens, Mortals, Past the Dog Star, For Thence the Meteor Comes, Swift and Merciless. Sad!”
In other words, this week, Donald J. Trump was completely on-target and salient regarding two entirely different topics. In a row.
The latest instance came in a delightful Tuesday phone interview with “Fox and Friends,” in which concerned morning hosts informed The Donald that various “celebrities” had threatened to leave the country if he gets elected. For instance, HBO star, “feminist icon,” and basic insane person Lena Dunham has declared she will decamp for Vancouver if Trump takes the White House; noted grump and frequent Trump target Rosie O’Donnell also joined the list.
“That would be a great thing for our country,” Trump said, enthusiastic, and he was absolutely right. “Now I have to get elected…Now it’s much more important. In fact, I’ll immediately get off this call and start campaigning right now.” I can’t lie: This was kind of awesome, so please savor this, as it may be the only time in this entire campaign when I say something like this about Donald Trump.
But wait! There’s more. On Monday, Trump accused John Kasich of eating like a starved barbarian, which is also—I’m so sorry, universe—kind of true. “Now you look at Kasich,” Trump hollered to the crowd at a recent Rhode Island rally. “Did you see him? He has a news conference all the time when he’s eating. I have never seen a human being eat in such a disgusting fashion…He’s pushing it in, we’ve never seen a guy eat like this!”
The crowd, if you’ll pardon my pun, completely ate this up. “This guy takes a pancake and he shoves it in his mouth!” Trump yell-bellowed. “It’s disgusting! Do you want that for your president? I don’t think so. I don’t think so.”
At first, I was torn regarding Trump’s analysis. On one hand, I did appreciate the colorful visual of a wild-eyed, half-sad man, worn ragged by the presidential trail, jamming an entire pancake into his mouth. The chipmunk cheeks! The madcap merriment! The complete inability to speak! On the other hand, contrary to Trump’s decisive condemnations, Kasich’s epic eating feats on the campaign trail could, at least at first glance, be viewed as a sign of the best of what truly Makes America Great.™
While in the Bronx, for instance, Kasich wowed a bevy of reporters by slurping up at least two plates of spaghetti, housing a ginormous, multi-layered sandwich, and then going back for more. It was, in some ways, quietly heroic: At that point, truly, the most dangerous place in the world was between a fork and John Kasich’s Whitman-esque barbaric yawp, and he did not give a you-know-what.
John Kasich’s Subtly Sad Eating
His performance, in fact, echoed the work of the legendary Black Widow—a tiny, slight-framed, oft-underestimated South Korea-born competitive eater, also known as “The Leader of the Four Horsemen of the Esophagus”—who, when faced with a plate of 40 hot dogs, can saunter off ten minutes later, smiling easily, her stomach a triumphant hot dog graveyard.
To be fair, all politicians face the “polite eating in front of the camera” dilemma, particularly at state fairs, when they are inevitably handed something embarrassing, awkward, phallic-looking, and impossible to eat, like a giant deep-fried, chocolate-covered, corn on the cob on a stick. Odds are, if the local vendors are particularly cruel, said cob of corn will also be craftily pre-coated with little green pepper flecks, which are both a) surprisingly spicy and b) guaranteed to get stuck in one’s teeth.
But there is a certain subtle sadness to John Kasich’s frenzied eating—the frantic downing of hoagies, the shoveling of mysterious risotto-like substances down the hatch, the blatant talking with the mouth full, all in front of a mob of reporters and cameras and press. In some ways, it echoes the very being of the Kasich campaign: “Sure, we’re here now,” the ethos seems to be, “but we’re not quite sure where we’re going, so we might as well devour what’s around us, quickly, and messily, too!”
Add a Tub of Ice Cream and a Six-Pack
If we go deeper, there’s also the possibility that Kasich, faced with the massive absurdity of this Trump-led election—an absurdity in which he, whether he realizes it or not, plays a part—has relegated himself, like many Americans, to simply eating his feelings. Feel sad? There’s a brie-coated crostini with pear out there! Angry? Snap into a Slim Jim, or maybe an entire sandwich made out of Slim Jims! Depressed? Ooh, there’s a Dairy Queen!
With the breaking news of his apparent “alliance” with Ted Cruz, good old “Prince of Light and Hope” Kasich—that’s his description, not mine—was characteristically crabby. On Monday, annoyed by reporters in a diner, he let loose some abrasive sniping: “Do your job with civility!” “I’m not desperate, are you?” “Everybody chill out!”
This was all rather hilarious, given that Kasich himself, like much of America right now, was not very civil, was clearly a bit desperate, and was most definitely not chilling out. In fact, like much of America right now, he seemed to be freaking out, but in a quiet “How can this be happening? My head feels like it might explode any minute!” sort of way.
Finally, as the reporters’ questions began to fade, Kasich, as Politico’s Nick Gass reported, “began to chow down on his eggs”—and perhaps, for one shining moment, in the dim lights of that Philadelphia diner, with the influx of sodium and protein, the troubles of the world began to fade away. No matter what we may feel about your campaign, John Kasich, America does feel your pain. But when you’re earnestly eating your feelings, one point is crucial to remember: It’s always best to chew with your mouth closed.