by: Steve Corbett
Political hallucinations appear too often in my mind, pulsing like an alcoholic’s delirium tremors on the wall of a locked down psychiatric hospital. Ghastly memories of America’s feral orange beast bite into my skull. I feel the fiend’s sharp teeth gnawing through my brain stem. Donald Trump smiles and flashes a thumbs-up. Images of his degenerate horror show attack me even now.
But on November, 11, 2015, at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, New Hampshire, Trump’s threat of an unknown future of life and death pulsed very real, as real as the blast of gunfire from an assassin’s gun.
I worry America won’t learn from our mistakes.
I worry we’re screwed.
As soon as I get in the room that gray Wednesday morning I quickly spot Trump’s potentially fatal vulnerability. I see how easily a lone deranged shooter can take him down, dropping the towering Republican presidential candidate as a frozen crowd shrieks and gawks, the lunatic pulling the trigger again and again.
The chance to wound or kill a presidential front runner should not be this easy. News reports say Secret Service agents are officially assigned to Trump as of today, but no agents seem present. A couple of local cops and at least one recognizable Trump security goon stand nearby, but that’s it. On my way in, nobody checks to see if I’m carrying a gun, a knife or a rocket launcher in my pocket.
Trump’s breach constitutes dismal weakness, a possibly deadly flaw in the lightning rod billionaire celebrity’s command of his surroundings, unsafe to anybody in the Armory ballroom where Saint Anselm College and the New Hampshire Institute of Politics hosts the “Politics & Eggs” Veterans Day breakfast.
The event packs hundreds of geek supporters into a space perfect for Trump’s bluster – a space equally perfect for a monstrous internationally acclaimed crime, perfect for an unstable killer.
Nothing stands between a psycho gun nut and Trump except naïve campaign volunteers who awkwardly check phones or paper tickets reserved in advance without asking for identification. We snake our way into the cavernous room to take seats at spacious round tables set for eight. Behind us, a lone bomb-sniffing dog barks and leaps on trash cans and a fire extinguisher attached to a wall by the door as the mutt’s uniformed police handler performs with the self-absorbed ego of a hungover security guard.
Trump finishes his speech. I make my way to the front of the room. Close enough to reach over the rope barrier and grab him by the crimson knot in his long silk necktie, I slowly extend my hand. Intent on signing autographs, Trump keeps walking, his bodyguard moving down the line with him yet allowing enough distance to create an opening for disaster.
At six feet, 230, with a dark pinstriped business suit, barbed Satan goatee, a sparkling diamond stud earring and a ponytail growing down my back, even with a smile I look threatening – especially when I’m close enough to crucify America’s unhinged messiah.
When I reach the hotel lobby after the event, I notice a gauntlet-like corridor of people clutching “The Art of the Deal” books and campaign posters they hope Trump will sign. The line begins where two boyish police officers stand and leads directly to the front exit. Outside, a small crowd assembles by a sleek black Chevy Suburban. It doesn’t take John Hinckley to figure out the man himself will soon come our way. My video shows the manic crowd beginning to swarm.
“Tighten up, guys, okay?” a Manchester cop yells. “Back up just a little bit for me.”
I stand my ground.
“Stay back, stay back,” the cop says. “You don’t want to get crushed.”
I get closer.
“Guys, don’t push. Do not push, alright?”
I don’t push.
A rancid butter yellow swash of hair fills my line of sight. A television crew stops Trump for an interview. People yell their support and thank Trump for promising to drain the swamp. I politely maneuver my way to the front. So I wait, Jack Ruby close enough now to pinch his fleshy cheeks, close enough to sink a fruit salad fork through his eyeball.
I prepare to open fire with facts.
“Mr. Trump, can I ask a question about border security?”
Trump draws even closer, hears me but doesn’t look up from signing autographs.
“Can I ask a question about border security?”
Trump’s eyes meet mine.
Again I start to ask my question but, now standing face-to-face, Trump cuts me off with a surly interrogation.
“Who are you with? Who are you with?”
I name the Scranton, Pennsylvania, radio station where I work.
Trump blows by.
I shoot from the lip.
“The room wasn’t secure. Nobody was wanded. Nobody was searched. Nobody was patted down.”
Trump keeps moving.
I fire again.
“How do you expect to secure the border when you couldn’t even secure the breakfast nook?” I shout after Trump as he hustles through the revolving door. “How do you secure the border when you can’t secure the scrambled eggs?”
I capture the exchange on my phone’s video. But what if my Droid had been a Glock or a cheap Wednesday morning special? How would America handle another of our terrible land-of-the-free scenes of carnage from which grief and chaos come alive when gunfire explodes and people die?
Two days earlier, I attend Hillary Rodham Clinton’s rally in Concord after she signs the official paperwork to get on the ballot for the nation’s first primary. Like Trump’s gathering, attendees needed to register in advance for free tickets. Unlike Trump’s exposed appearance, everyone passes through metal detectors manned by uniformed Secret Service officers, uniformed TSA officers and local police who wand, pat down, search and scan all belongings, bags and purses, including electronic devices that must be turned on before officials allow us access to the secure stage area at the rear of the State Capitol Building.
Even before Hillary signed the papers at the Capitol, security agents personally scanned the New Hampshire Secretary of State, from his crotch to his lips and down past his hips to his legs to the ankle bones, upsetting weirdo Republicans who cried foul at the personal insult.
That’s why we call it security.
Security saves lives.
Seven months later I’m standing in the gaping Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, when Trump takes the stage for a rally. The cold cement and gunmetal gray ring made for professional hockey brawls is a frenzied war bunker filled with damaged adherents to the twisted vison of their Republican Fuhrer’s fatherland. Among several chants from the bug-eyed crowd taunting sanity and CNN, I pick up a familiar name.
“Corbett sucks, Corbett sucks,” the frenzied citizens howl.
A young Hungarian reporter turns to me and asks, “What’s a Corbett?”
The mob slobbers like wild dogs straining through rusted cage wire for out-of-reach bowls of steaming goulash. I leave early to avoid potential parking lot attacks that would force me to fight off cerebrally-challenged zombies and delay my much-needed fix of red wine at home.
On the way north to Scranton on Interstate 81, I notice that some special farces commando sabotaged a flashing highway sign. Instead of cautioning motorists to “Drive Safely,” the well-lit machine announces in gleaming prisoner-of-war-camp-caliber-spotlights to “Vote Trump.”
The next day I blast news of right-wing subversion over the radio on my daily talk show. A self-avowed evangelical Christian Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles PR flack admits that some fanatic on the public payroll reprogrammed the official government sign. Still, the road crew terrorist carried out his mission.
Five months later Trump wins the election and an army of callers to my show demand I apologize. I have nothing to apologize for, I say. Then I sneer and ramp up my anti-Trump offensive.
Three months later, uptight corporate bosses fire me after getting squeezed by provincial Trump-loving advertisers and parochial white supremacists while timid liberal listeners and colleagues stand by in silence, struck mute with fear.
To this day, undulating images of the hulking orange beast fan mad memories of how our land of the fiend and home of the knave’s latest and maybe final decline began.
My tale is no fantasy. My search for truth is accurate, real and terrifying, complete with witnesses who that day in New England also came face-to-face with Donald Trump’s vile disregard for his own personal safety, an opening that gave birth to his getting sloppier with his oath to safeguard America.
Yes, this is my brain on Trump.
I think too often of this madman’s creation and rise. Screaming inside, I envision his ascension happening again, my darkest remembrance of his wrath remaining indelible. I worry Trump will again one day walk among us as president.
I know Trump’s petty negligence better than most because I witnessed his blatant disregard for security and called him out on his neglect. As expected, he ignored my warning. If Trump didn’t care about his own preservation, why would he care about ours?
Of course he didn’t.
During four years as president and a prime target for destruction, while hurting countless innocent, powerless people, America’s bronzed beast of our burdens got lucky with his own golden recklessness. Thankfully, nobody tried to gun down the GOP Savior. In the end, Trump made America great again by losing re-election while his maniac supporters sought revenge by storming the U.S. Capitol at his urging. They even threatened to hang Vice President Mike Pence in a made-for-social-media public execution.
Millions of Americans voted for Trump in 2016, turning over the reins of democracy and the nuclear codes to a man so cavalier about his own security he exposed himself as an easy target.
Berserk shooters now have more access to firearms and targets than ever, including whoever is unlucky enough to be America’s president. It’s happened before, chants our spectral choir of bloody national political martyrs. The ghosts of Abraham, John, Bobby, Martin and Malcolm know what soul music’s guardian angel Marvin Gaye was talking about.
We all must face what’s going on.
I worry more of us will die, that more of us will stand by passively as silent witnesses to slaughter. I worry more of us will go willingly to the extermination chamber. I worry about democracy’s stormy death.
We the people remain in some very deep shit.