Trump, the Self-Caricature, Requires a Satirist with a Minimalist Touch

So, Hillary Clinton’s very safe, if momentarily controversial prediction that Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim pronouncements would become material for ISIS recruitment videos has been proven accurate.

Here is a summary from the Far-Right news service Newsmax:

“Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is featured in a new terrorist recruitment video, according to multiple news reports.

“In the new video produced by al-Shabab, al-Qaida’s affiliate in Somalia, a clip of Trump telling rallygoers in December he was calling for a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,’ is used. The expletive is bleeped out.

“Prior to the clip of Trump, former al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who died in a U.S. airstrike in 2011, is seen telling ‘Muslims of the West’ to ‘learn from the lessons of history,’ CBS News reports.

“’There are ominous clouds gathering in your horizon,’ al-Awlaki says. ‘Yesterday, America was a land of slavery, segregation, lynching, and Ku Klux Klan. And tomorrow it will be a land of religious discrimination and concentration camps.’

“After Trump’s quote, al-Awlaki is seen saying, ‘The West will eventually turn against its Muslim citizens.’

“The video was revealed just two weeks after Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton called him the Islamic State’s (ISIS) ‘best recruiter.’ . . .”

In a very short satiric piece for the New Yorker, titled “Trump Calls His Al-Qaeda Recruitment Video the Highest-Rated Terror Video Ever,” Andy Borowitz perfectly captures Trump’s bombastic and mindless egotism:

“NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—Just minutes after the Somali-based Al Qaeda affiliate Shabaab group released a propaganda video featuring a clip of Donald Trump, the Republican Presidential front-runner boasted that the video would be the highest-rated terror video of all time.

“Within an hour of the video’s appearance, Trump took to Twitter to crow about his role in the jihadist promo, and tweaked his G.O.P. rivals for failing to be chosen by Shabaab.

“’Shabaab would never put Jeb in video,’ Trump tweeted. ‘Knows he is loser!’

“But even as the billionaire boasted about his inclusion in the terror video, the prospect for future collaborations between Trump and Shabaab seemed to dim, due to a series of escalating demands issued by the real-estate magnate.

“In a cascade of tweets directed at the terror group, Trump insisted that he be paid two million dollars for every subsequent video and that he retain editorial control over the final cut.

“In a terse official statement, a Shabaab spokesman said that the terror group was ‘discontinuing our relationship with Donald J. Trump.’

“’He’s just too hard to work with,’ the spokesman said.”

What is amazing about this piece is not just how well Borowitz’s captures Trump’s voice and attitude, but also how little, if at all, he has to deviate from Trump’s voice and attitude to to create a satiric effect. Unintentionally, Trump is very close to an ongoing exercise in self-satire because he refuses to recognize or at least to be dissuaded from projecting the self-caricature that is his public persona. Indeed, without stretching credulity, one can extend the point by suggesting that his public persona is probably not much different than his actual personality: that is, Trump illustrates the essence of reality television–the “reality” being calculated to attract ratings and becoming in many ways less “real” than fictional dramas.

If you are unfamiliar with the “Borowitz Report” [], it is in itself worth the price of a subscription to the New Yorker. Here is a sampling of the nine most recent “reports,” minus the item on Trump:

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