Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @DeanObeidallah. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
Donald Trump owes each and every American money. And I don’t mean the trickle-down economics kind that supposedly accompanies tax cuts to the one percent. I’m talking a check to every man, women and child for $3,239 per week until his presidency ends.
Why? Well, because Trump has cast us all in his dysfunctional reality show, and we deserve to be paid the SAG-AFTRA union minimum for being on a network reality show, which is currently $3,239 per week.
True, we aren’t cast members on an actual reality show. But Trump still owes us something for everything he is putting us through. The Trump presidency has been like the reality show “Hell’s Kitchen” but with no kitchen and an extra helping of hell.
And Trump is indeed running his administration like a B-level reality show. Trump reportedly told his top aides “to think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show.” And Trump has done just that with public brawls, curse-laden name calling, public firings (akin to what he did on “The Apprentice”) and the pitting of people against each other in his own administration.
But it’s not just Trump’s orders for cooked-up tension – it’s his actions, too, which create a sense of heightened drama at all times. And while there are too many moments of this to recall here, a few stand out.
First, there was his ban on immigrants from several Muslim-majority countries, which caused massive protests at our nation’s airports. Then there was Trump’s announcement he was ending DACA, leaving hundreds of thousands of young people’s futures in jeopardy. And who can forget his attempt to ban transgender Americans from serving in our military? Finally, last week, he is reported to have called Africa, Haiti and El Salvador “shithole” places.
Now, I’m far from the only person who has called Trump out for these reality-show theatrics. In October, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) – who has since reconciled with the President – accused Trump of running the White House like a “reality show.” Trump responded in typical dramatic fashion by publicly mocking Corker for being short and for sounding like “a fool.”
At least Sean Spicer, Reince Preibus and real reality-show star Omarosa Manigault Newman were able to escape the Trump show by leaving the White House. I wish Trump could tell me “I’m fired” and allow me to return to my life pre-Trump – which, frankly, I can barely remember.
And yet we can’t vote Trump off this show, even though polls reveal he is far from respected. A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday found that only 40% of Americans believe Trump is fit to be President. In contrast, 57% say Trump is not fit to serve. If a contestant on any another reality show received such horrible ratings, he would be sent packing.
The worst part of all this is that we are not even one year into this show. Think about that for a second and reflect on the stress Trump has caused us all – even his supporters – in the last year. Now imagine three, or even seven, more years of that and I’ll bet that you, too, agree Trump should be writing us all a weekly check.
Of course, there’s a chance the Trump show ends earlier than expected, thanks to Robert Mueller, the 25th Amendment of the Constitution or Trump choosing to focus full time on his real passion: Twitter. However, assuming he remains in office I shudder to think what Trump has in store for us in Season 2 of this program, which makes our blood pressure spike daily.
Will he continue to make vile racist remarks or publicly defend people marching with white supremacists as “fine people”? Perhaps Trump will continue bragging about the size of his nuclear “button”? Or, maybe Trump will start a war with Iran, North Korea or – plot twist – a country that no one is thinking of because Trump loves the element of surprise.
Regardless, one thing is clear: there are millions and millions of Americans – including even a few Republicans – who are desperately looking forward to the series finale of this Trump reality show. And let’s hope when that day comes, we will still able to remember what actual reality looks like – rather than the twisted version that Trump has subjected us to as a nation.