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. Pros: In many respects, the 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. ❏