Trump & Punishment

Is it too soon to imagine our president in a criminal court?

 Actually, it’s too late. Come January 20th, Donald Trump will no longer enjoy immunity from prosecution. Now is the time for farsighted Americans to suggest appropriate sanctions when, as now seems likely, Trump is convicted of some crime— perjury, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, tax evasion, money laundering, bank fraud, wire fraud, adultery, treason, illegal parking… the possibilities are endless. But Trump would be a unique case, as felons go. So let us consider the pros and cons of ten penalties— some advocated by Trump himself— listed here in reverse order of my preference.

 10. CAPITAL PUNISHMENT. ProsIn many respectsthe ideal Trumpian spectacle: Witnessed by thousands, telecast to millions, and guaranteed to feature Trump as the center of attention. Cheerleaders from Trump University could lead the opening procession in the singing of “Hello, Donald” to the tune of “Hello, Dolly,” with special emphasis on the line, “It’s so great to have you back where you belong.” Concluding festivities could include the ritual singing of “Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead,” followed by a Metropolitan Opera chorus performance of the rousing finale to Verdi’s Macbeth, in which the oppressed Britons celebrate the tyrant’s downfall. (Click on the link below.)

The ratings would be huge! Cons: He’d hire a substitute to die in his place. Then he’d hire a ghostwriter to pen The Art of the Reincarnation. Then he’d launch a new career as host of a TV reality show, The Savior. Face it: He’s too smart for us!

 9. TORTURE. Pros: Proven remedy for threats to social order, endorsed by a long line of visionaries, from Torquemada and St. Thomas More to Dick Cheney and John Yoo. Cons: You trust John Yoo?

 8. BUILD THE WALL! Pros: A high wall around Mar-A-Lago— with Trump inside— would protect Americans from his future depredations while simultaneously fulfilling one of Trump’s own campaign pledges. Cons: Violates Palm Beach zoning code. And Mexico still won’t pay for it.

 7. THE “STABLE GENIUS” OPTION. Pros: Trump once described himself as a “stable genius.” Why not lock him in a stable and let him demonstrate his ingenuity at cleaning it up every day? Cons: Why should the horses suffer? 

6. LIFE IMPRISONMENT IN A TWO-PERSON CELL WITH HIS CHOICE OF ANY ONE OF THE FOLLOWING: MIKE PENCE, RUDY GIULIANI, KELLYANNE CONWAY, STEVE BANNON, JARED KUSHNER, or SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS. Pros: Humane alternative to options listed above. Cons: Cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by U.S. Constitution.

 5. THE “MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY” OPTION. In Edward Everett Hale’s 1863 novella, a treasonous U.S. soldier is sentenced to spend the rest of his days at sea without so much as a word of news about the United States. Pros: Humane solution for almost everyone in the world. Cons: Inhumane solution for the ship’s crew, not to mention fish forced to listen to Trump’s rants.  

4. EXILE TO A ‘SHITHOLE’ COUNTRY Pros: Poetic justice for someone who has applied this label to Haiti as well as all of Africa. Cons: What have Haitians or Africans done to deserve this?

3. RELEASE HIS TAX RETURNS. Pros: The ultimate torture for Trump: It would reveal that he never was a self-made billionaire, successful business executive, or munificent philanthropist. Cons: We know this already.

2. THERAPY. Pros: Positive, non-vindictive treatment for transforming sociopaths into useful citizens and compassionate neighbors. Cons: Doesn’t work unless the patient wants it to.

1. FOR A FIRST OFFENDER, TOKEN FINE AND SIX MONTHS’ COMMUNITY SERVICE. Pros: Treatment as a juvenile delinquent will drive Trump bananas; community service requirement could trigger allergic reaction, possibly fatal. Cons: None that I can think of offhand. ❏

Journalist Dan Rottenberg is the author of 11  books and has edited seven publications, most recently the Philadelphia arts and culture website Broad Street Review.

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8 Responses

  1. Thank you for this–made me laugh. Though everything these days, no matter how clever, tastes like gallows humor 🙁

  2. Hello Dan,
    Your list is comprehensive, useful and entertaining…(if evil can be entertaining that is.)
      I like the order in which you laid this all out.   Now I’m trying to imagine the community who will host him for his community service: The Isle of Elba comes to mind.

  3. Oh cousin- what a sense of humor but in truth, all the above are too good for him- what would really him good would be a massive class action suit accusing him of mass murder, a conspiracy to implement mass murder and wrongful death. With the RNC and all elected Republicans a willing co-conspirators and the amount should freeze and then confiscate all cash assets, all properties belonging to aforementioned culprits. If convicted, they would be banned from public office permanently and 300,00 hours of community service each and for each convicted offense in low income, children or immigrant services.

  4. I have a very limited sense of humor. So when i laughed out loud at Stable Genius locked in a stable, it was the release I needed to shake off the cobwebs of the past 4 years. Thank you Dan.

    1. Agreed. Verdi was a better composer than I am a writer. Or as Marvin Hamlisch used to say, it’s the music that makes the movie.

  5. Dan, thank you for the uplifting interlude in this surreal, unsettling, maddening time. I smiled a lot, but like Ruth, laughed out load about the poor horses — also the fish. A word about sociopaths and psychopaths: the DSM now labels those who lie, cheat, devalue, manipulate, terrify, pull the ground from right under you, place all you value in life at grave risk, and kill in myriad ways in far kinder terms than they deserve. As you hint, they do not seek therapy. Fortunately, some they make doubt their own sanity do seek therapy, and when possible, they leave the relationship. Or in macro terms, they vote them the hell out of office,

  6. Dan, thank you for the uplifting interlude in this surreal, unsettling, maddening time. I smiled a lot, but like Ruth, laughed out load about the poor horses — also the fish. A word about sociopaths and psychopaths: the DSM now labels those who lie, cheat, devalue, manipulate, terrify, pull the ground from right under you, place all you value in life at grave risk, and kill in myriad ways in far kinder terms than they deserve. As you hint, they do not seek therapy. Fortunately, some they make doubt their own sanity do seek therapy, and when possible, they leave the relationship. Or in macro terms, they vote them the hell out of office,

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