WASHINGTON — If there were any justice in the world, Donald Trump would have taken the Mug Shot of Dorian Gray.
As with Oscar Wilde’s charismatic and amoral narcissist, the Picture of Donald Trump should have been a “foul parody,” a reflection of what the chancer has done with his life. It should have shown Trump’s corroding soul rather than his truculent face.
It should have revealed a man so cynical and depraved that he is willing to smash our nation’s soul — our democracy — and destroy faith in our institutions. All this simply to avoid being called a loser.
“Through some strange quickening of inner life the leprosies of sin were slowly eating the thing away,” Wilde wrote of Dorian’s portrait. “The rotting of a corpse in a watery grave was not so fearful.”
Now that would have been some primo merch: Trump slapping a rotting mug shot on a mug and selling it on his campaign website for the low, low price of $25.
Trump has long felt that squinting or scowling is a good look for him. Timothy O’Brien, a Trump biographer, recalled that Trump once told him that Clint Eastwood was the greatest movie star ever, and O’Brien believed that Donald and Melania modeled their squints on Eastwood’s. Maggie Haberman noted in The Times that when Trump posed for his official White House portrait, he scowled into the camera and told aides he thought he looked “like Churchill.”
Thursday night was performative for Trump: sweeping in with his private jet and giant motorcade that screamed two-tiered justice system, with law enforcement clearing the Atlanta streets, like centurions clearing the way for Caesar.
Trump told Newsmax’s Greg Kelly after the arraignment that he had “never heard the word ‘mug shot’” until his was taken — which just shows again that Trump is a pathological liar. Everyone in America has heard the term “mug shot.”
Trump said that being booked at the horror chamber known as the Fulton County Jail — its location on Rice Street is cited in songs by rappers who have logged time there — was “a terrible experience.”
“I went through an experience that I never thought I’d have to go through, but then, I’ve gone through the same experience three other times,” the 77-year-old said, adding about his mug shot, “They didn’t teach me that at the Wharton School of Finance.”
They didn’t teach him not to be a big liar and cheat, either. Wharton is a place where they should teach you about mug shots. All American business schools should have a class on mug shots.
Trump did another woe-is-me interview with Fox News Digital, admitting that getting processed by Georgia officials, who “insisted” he have the mug shot taken, was “not a comfortable feeling — especially when you’ve done nothing wrong.”
He no doubt workshopped his stroppy mug-shot look in front of the mirror, trying to convey “Never surrender!” as he was literally surrendering. And in another master stroke of projection, he accused the prosecutors pursuing him for election interference of “election interference.”
But Trump is feral and cunning, and deep in his amygdala, he must have shivered, thinking to himself, “Damn, I could go to prison. My liberty is actually at risk.” Even though he has spent his whole life getting away with things, sliding out of things, stiffing people, conning people, he had to have a moment at the jail when he realized he is in the prosecutors’ sights. He even went out and hired a real criminal lawyer.
Perplexing as it is, Trump devotees continue to adore him. President Biden sarcastically called Trump a “handsome guy,” but many on the right thrilled to his jailhouse portrait. “I say this with an unblemished record of heterosexuality,” Jesse Watters swooned on “The Five” on Fox News. “He looks good, and he looks hard.”
At the Republican debate, no one was big enough to shove him aside. Nikki Haley seemed the most appealing. Ron DeSantis’s inability to smile is disqualifying. It was pathetic that the best the Florida governor could muster, asked if Mike Pence acted properly when he certified the election, was to say, “I got no beef with him.”
Vivek Ramaswamy seemed smarmy. Scott Jennings, a Republican commentator on CNN, said that Ramaswamy was Scrappy-Doo to Trump’s Scooby-Doo. That comparison is not fair to Scooby or Scrappy, who are positive forces in the world, helping to unmask crooks, unlike Trump and his mini-me.
On Friday afternoon, Trump put out a fund-raising pitch based on his 20 minutes in hell.
“It’s violent,” Trump said of the jail where, as he let his fans know in his fund-raising email, he was given booking number 2313827. “The building is falling apart. Inmates have dug their fingers into the crumbling walls and ripped out chunks to fashion over 1,000 shanks. Just this year alone, 7 inmates have died in that jail.”
Yep, he’s getting scared.
As Audrey Hepburn said in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” after she tangled with the law, “There are certain shades of limelight that can wreck a girl’s complexion.”