The Olympics and American presidential elections have a lot in common: both celebrate the absolute best humanity has to offer; both reward integrity and fair play; both are devoid of corruption; and both appeal to citizens’ highest ideals and are thus immune to cynicism and snark. Oh! And both take place every four years and involve the national anthem, much to Francis Scott Key’s delight.
Here is a cartoon celebrating the Rio Olympics and the current state of the presidential campaign. Please note: The difficulty rating for this cartoon is 15.35. It is printed in gold, for authenticity. It is also scowling at you from under a hoodie, a la Michael Phelps.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are running the 400-meter dash in front of thousands of screaming fans. Clinton is far ahead. In fact, Donald Trump appears to be chewing on his starting block rather than competing in the race. He’s obviously overwhelmed, like an athlete who thought his qualifying heat was the medal round. From the sidelines, Paul Ryan, Reince Priebus, and other GOP figures scream at Trump to start running. Their veins are popping out of their necks like Soviet-era power lifters—which sends Paul Manafort reeling in ecstasy, as he is reminded of his spiritual home and financial feed trough.
Empty syringes litter the track at Trump’s feet. The syringes are labeled “Nativism,” “Thuggery,” “Infectious, Gleeful Ignorance,” and “The Worst of the American Character.” Unfortunately, these chemical cocktails don’t seem to be helping him in this particular event, and the cheering crowds who’d enjoyed these drugs along with him earlier in the contest are now as bewildered as he is: Why isn’t this great athlete winning the race? Could Hillary Clinton actually take home the gold?
The Trump fans have a theory: the entire race has been rigged. (We know this because we see them spreading the theory via Twitter, their fingers and minds a blur.) More specifically, the playing field isn’t level; the starting buzzer was tuned to a frequency that allowed Clinton to hear it before Trump; the digital timers need to be un-skewed; Vince Foster rose from the dead, traveled backward through time, and dosed Trump’s bottle of Trump Mouthwash™ with the Zika virus. The point is, any reality in which Donald Trump isn’t the fastest man alive—the greatest, most terrific, even better than Usain Bolt, believe me—is hopelessly compromised.
Of course, if Trump were the glorious athlete of his fans’ imaginations, he’d be able to beat Clinton in spite of these obstacles. Indeed, the only events he seems competitive in are Freestyle Diaper-Soiling and the 1,000-Meter Whine—suggesting that he’s in far over his head.
Trump’s spectacle of panicked implosion is distracting the crowd from one of the most depressing things about this Olympian contest: Hillary Clinton is running across the finish line into the wide, welcoming arms of Henry Kissinger, her part-time track coach. Kissinger is a man whose personal friendship and public approval she actively courts, much to the despair of anyone who remembers anything about history, or indeed remembers that the results of this particular footrace are only the beginning.