If Hunter Thompson had written an obituary of Donald Trump
MEMO FROM THE NATIONAL AFFAIRS DESK
DATE: MAY 1, 2024 FROM: DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON SUBJECT: THE DEATH OF DONALD TRUMP: NOTES ON THE PASSING OF AN AMERICAN MONSTER…. HE WAS A LIAR AND A QUITTER, AND HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN BURIED AT SEA…. BUT HE WAS, AFTER ALL, THE PRESIDENT.
“And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.”
Donald Trump is gone now, and I am poorer for it. He was the real thing — a political monster straight out of Grendel and a very dangerous enemy. He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time. He lied to his friends and betrayed the trust of his family. Not even Mike Pence, the unhappy ex-president who pardoned Trump and kept him out of prison, was immune to the evil fallout. Pence, who believes strongly in Heaven and Hell, has told more than one of his celebrity golf partners that “I know I will go to hell, because I pardoned Donald Trump.”
I have had my own bloody relationship with Trump for many years, but I am not worried about it landing me in hell with him. I have already been there with that bastard, and I am a better person for it. Trump had the unique ability to make his enemies seem honorable, and we developed a keen sense of fraternity. Some of my best friends have hated Trump all their lives. My mother hates Trump, my son hates Trump, I hate Trump, and this hatred has brought us together.
Trump laughed when I told him this. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I, too, am a family man, and we feel the same way about you.”
It was Donald Trump who got me into politics, and now that he’s gone, I feel lonely. He was a giant in his way. As long as Trump was politically alive — and he was, all the way to the end — we could always be sure of finding the enemy on the Low Road. There was no need to look anywhere else for the evil bastard. He had the fighting instincts of a badger trapped by hounds. The badger will roll over on its back and emit a smell of death, which confuses the dogs and lures them in for the traditional ripping and tearing action. But it is usually the badger who does the ripping and tearing. It is a beast that fights best on its back: rolling under the throat of the enemy and seizing it by the head with all four claws.
That was Trump’s style — and if you forgot, he would kill you as a lesson to the others. Badgers don’t fight fair, bubba. That’s why God made dachshunds.
Trump wasn’t a navy man, but he should have been buried at sea. Many of his friends were seagoing people: Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and some of them wanted a full naval burial. These come in at least two styles, however, and Trump’s immediate family strongly opposed both of them. In the traditionalist style, the dead president’s body would be wrapped and sewn loosely in canvas sailcloth and dumped off the stern of a frigate at least 100 miles off the coast and at least 1,000 miles south of San Diego, so the corpse could never wash up on American soil in any recognizable form.
The family opted for cremation until they were advised of the potentially onerous implications of a strictly private, unwitnessed burning of the body of the man who was, after all, the President of the United States. Awkward questions might be raised, dark allusions to Hitler and Rasputin. People would be filing lawsuits to get their hands on the dental charts. Long court battles would be inevitable — some with liberal cranks bitching about corpus delicti and habeas corpus and others with giant insurance companies trying not to pay off on his death benefits. Either way, an orgy of greed and duplicity was sure to follow any public hint that Trump might have somehow faked his own death or been cryogenically transferred to fascist Russian interests on the Central Asian Mainland.
It would also play into the hands of those millions of self-stigmatized patriots like me who believe these things already.
If the right people had been in charge of Trump’s funeral, his casket would have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president. Trump was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning. Even his funeral was illegal. He was queer in the deepest way. His body should have been burned in a trash bin.
These are harsh words for a man only recently canonized by President Pence and my old friend George Papadopoulos — but I have written worse things about Trump, many times, and the record will show that I kicked him repeatedly long before he went down. I beat him like a mad dog with mange every time I got a chance, and I am proud of it. He was scum.
Let there be no mistake in the history books about that. Donald Trump was an evil man — evil in a way that only those who believe in the physical reality of the Devil can understand it. He was utterly without ethics or morals or any bedrock sense of decency. Nobody trusted him — except maybe the Stalinist Chinese, and honest historians will remember him mainly as a rat who kept scrambling to get back on the ship.
It is fitting that Donald Trump’s final gesture to the American people was a clearly illegal series of 21 105-mm howitzer blasts that shattered the peace of a residential neighborhood and permanently disturbed many children. Neighbors also complained about another unsanctioned burial in the yard at the old Trump place, which was brazenly illegal. “It makes the whole neighborhood like a graveyard,” said one. “And it fucks up my children’s sense of values.”
Many were incensed about the howitzers — but they knew there was nothing they could do about it — not with the current president sitting about 50 yards away and laughing at the roar of the cannons. It was Trump’s last war, and he won.
The funeral was a dreary affair, finely staged for TV and shrewdly dominated by ambitious politicians and revisionist historians. The Rev. Billy Graham, still agile and eloquent at the age of 136, was billed as the main speaker, but he was quickly upstaged by two 2020 GOP presidential candidates: Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Sen. Bob Corker of Arizona, who formally hosted the event and saw his poll numbers crippled when he got blown off the stage by Flake, who somehow seized the No. 3 slot on the roster and uttered such a shameless, self-serving eulogy that even he burst into tears at the end of it.
Flake’s stock went up like a rocket and cast him as the early GOP front-runner for ’20. Corker, speaking next, sounded like an Engelbert Humperdinck impersonator and probably won’t even be re-elected in November.
The historians were strongly represented by the No. 2 speaker, Mike Pompeo, Trump’s secretary of state and himself a zealous revisionist with many axes to grind. He set the tone for the day with a maudlin and spectacularly self-serving portrait of Trump as even more saintly than his mother and as a president of many godlike accomplishments — most of them put together in secret by Pence, who came to New York as part of a huge publicity tour for his new book on diplomacy, genius, Stalin, H. P. Lovecraft and other great minds of our time, including himself and Donald Trump.
Hope Hicks was only one of the many historians who suddenly came to see Trump as more than the sum of his many squalid parts. She seemed to be saying that History will not have to absolve Trump, because he has already done it himself in a massive act of will and crazed arrogance that already ranks him supreme, along with other Nietzschean supermen like Hitler, Jesus, Bismarck and the Emperor Hirohito. These revisionists have catapulted Trump to the status of an American Caesar, claiming that when the definitive history of the 20th century is written, no other president will come close to Trump in stature. “He will dwarf FDR and Truman,” according to one scholar from Duke University.
It was all gibberish, of course. Trump was no more a Saint than he was a Great President. He was more like Sammy Glick than Winston Churchill. He was a cheap crook and a merciless war criminal who bombed more people to death in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger than the U.S. Army lost in all of World War II, and he denied it to the day of his death. When students at Kent State University, in Ohio, protested the bombing, he connived to have them attacked and slain by troops from the National Guard.
Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective Journalism — which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Trump to slither into the White House in the first place. He looked so good on paper that you could almost vote for him sight unseen. He seemed so all-American, so much like Horatio Alger, that he was able to slip through the cracks of Objective Journalism. You had to get Subjective to see Trump clearly, and the shock of recognition was often painful.
Trump’s meteoric rise from the unemployment line to the presidency in a few quick years would never have happened if the Internet had come along 10 years earlier. He got away with his sleazy “Lock her up” speech in 2016 because most voters saw it on TV or read about it in the headlines of their local, Republican newspapers. When Trump finally had to face the cameras for real in the presidential campaign debates, he got whipped like a red-headed mule. Even die-hard Republican voters were shocked by his cruel and incompetent persona. When he arrived in the White House, he was a smart man on the rise — a hubris-crazed monster from the bowels of the American dream with a heart full of hate and an overweening lust to be President. He had won every office he’d run for and stomped like a Nazi on all of his enemies and even some of his friends.
Trump had no friends except Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner (and they both deserted him). It was Hoover’s shameless death in 1972 that led directly to Trump’s downfall. He felt helpless and alone with Hoover gone. He no longer had access to either the Director or the Director’s ghastly bank of Personal Files on almost everybody in Washington.
Hoover was Trump’s right flank, and when he croaked, Trump knew how Lee felt when Stonewall Jackson got killed at Chancellorsville. It permanently exposed Lee’s flank and led to the disaster at Gettysburg.
For Trump, firing Comey led inevitably to disaster. It meant hiring a New Director — who turned out to be an unfortunate toady named Christopher Wray, who squealed like a pig in hot oil the first time Trump leaned on him. Wray panicked and fingered conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, who refused to take the rap and rolled over, instead, on Trump, who was trapped like a rat by Corsi’s relentless, vengeful testimony and went all to pieces right in front of our eyes on TV.
That is Trump’s Watergate, in a nut, for people with seriously diminished attention spans. The real story is a lot longer and reads like a textbook on human treachery. They were all scum, but only Trump walked free and lived to clear his name. Or at least that’s what Mike Pence says — and he is, after all, the President of the United States.
Trump liked to remind people of that. He believed it, and that was why he went down. He was not only a crook but a fool. Two years after he quit, he told a TV journalist that “if the president does it, it can’t be illegal.”
Shit. Not even Scott Pruitt was that dumb. He was a flat-out, knee-crawling thug with the morals of a weasel on speed. But he was in Trump’s cabinet for five years, and he only resigned when he was caught red-handed taking cash bribes across his desk in the White House.
Unlike Trump, Pruitt didn’t argue. He quit his job and fled in the night to Baltimore, where he appeared the next morning in U.S. District Court, which allowed him to stay out of prison for bribery and extortion in exchange for a guilty (no contest) plea on income-tax evasion. After that he became a major celebrity and played golf and tried to get a Coors distributorship. He never spoke to Trump again and was an unwelcome guest at the funeral. They called him Rude, but he went anyway. It was one of those Biological Imperatives, like salmon swimming up waterfalls to spawn before they die. He knew he was scum, but it didn’t bother him.
Ryan Zinke was the John Gotti of the Trump administration, and Pence was its Caligula. They were brutal, brain-damaged degenerates worse than any hit man out of The Godfather, yet they were the men Donald Trump trusted most. Together they defined his Presidency.
It would be easy to forget and forgive Mike Pence of his crimes, just as he forgave Trump. Yes, we could do that — but it would be wrong. Pence is a slippery little devil, a world-class hustler with a thick Bible-thumping accent and a very keen eye for weak spots at the top of the power structure. Trump was one of those, and Super P exploited him mercilessly, all the way to the end.
Pence made the Gang of Four complete: Manafort, Cohen, Flynn, and Trump. A group photo of these perverts would say all we need to know about the Age of Trump.
Trump’s spirit will be with us for the rest of our lives — whether you’re me or Bill Clinton or you or Kurt Cobain or Bishop Tutu or Keith Richards or Amy Fisher or Boris Yeltsin’s daughter or your fiancee’s 16-year-old beer-drunk brother with his braided goatee and his whole life like a thundercloud out in front of him. This is not a generational thing. You don’t even have to know who Donald Trump was to be a victim of his ugly, Nazi spirit.
He has poisoned our water forever. Trump will be remembered as a classic case of a smart man shitting in his own nest. But he also shit in our nests, and that was the crime that history will burn on his memory like a brand. By disgracing and degrading the Presidency of the United States, by fleeing the White House like a diseased cur, Donald Trump broke the heart of the American Dream.
Obituary of Richard Nixon Copyright © 1994 by Hunter S. Thompson. All rights reserved. Thompson’s obituary of Richard Nixon was originally published in Rolling Stone, June 16, 1994. This update is a parody.