Attacking Trump over his fast food feast is just ridiculous
Trump’s fast food feast wasn’t an affront to anything — it was fun.
Spot-on as always, Trump haters. What every robust young college football player wants after winning the national championship is to tuck into a nice chicken cordon bleu, with sides of ratatouille and gratin dauphinois, possibly with a boat of Bearnaise sauce close to hand. McDonald’s? Burger King? Pizza? Don’t you know 22-year-old guys hate that stuff?
Yeah, no. Actually, President Trump’s smorgasbord of glorious burgers and fries and dipping sauces — all-American food for all-Americans — was great good fun, and no doubt appreciatively devoured by the champion Clemson Tigers. Naturally Trump exaggerated the size of the buffet (he claimed to have bought 1,000 of them in a Tweet, which would have been seven burgers per man), but if you can’t get a chuckle out of the picture of a president presiding over trays of our national cuisine, your life must be sad and joyless.
If President Obama had done the same thing, the reaction would have been: We’re lovin’ it! Check out the Man of the People! He effortlessly connects with every different class and subgroup! He’s not just an elegant Harvard lawyer, he speaks Big Mac! Please, Mr. President, the press would demand, tell us your favorite McNugget sauce. If Obama had paid for a drive-thru din-din out of his own pocket, this would have been depicted as an act of almost unspeakable generosity, another paragraph in the legend of the saint. Doing it all under the watchful gaze of Abraham Lincoln would have been yet another marker of his emotional intelligence: Railsplitter Abe, the self-taught lawyer who was born in a log cabin and gave his first political speech barefoot, in homespun clothes. How he would have smiled at this 21st-century homage to his down-home lack of pretension!
Instead, comic and TV star W. Kamau Bell said, in a typical Twitter wisecrack, “White House Staffer, choking through tears — “I… guess… we could… use the… Lincoln gravy boats… for the… Mc… the McNug… the McNugget sauces.”
Pure snobbery! First, gravy boats are lame. Who wants a boat of gravy? Let’s not turn back the clock to the repressive gravy-boat era, Kamau! Second, isn’t mixing high and low a great American tradition? We’re the country of “Lady and the Tramp.” Where, in a typical Kennedy Center Honors program, you get Zubin Mehta seated next to Dolly Parton, Mikhail Baryshnikov next to Chuck Berry. (Both of those really happened, by the way.) If anything, patrician politicians scramble to fake being down with the people, as when George H.W. Bush tried to convince us he liked pork rinds when in fact he preferred popcorn with a martini and John Kerry averred that his favorite Red Sox player was the nonexistent “Manny Ortez.” Trump isn’t faking his love of fast food.
But President Trump cannot tie his shoelaces without the media urgently warning us that no president has ever tied his shoelaces in a manner that posed such a grave threat to our civil liberties before. So his every move has to be an affront to our values, an act of lunacy.
“The Pure American Banality of Donald Trump’s Fast-Food Buffet,” intoned an anguished headline in The New Yorker, which didn’t sound particularly bothered about implying that America is inherently banal. The magazine’s food writer Helen Rosner simply assumed that all the food went inedibly cold (did it? Burgers that are wrapped and in boxes do stay warm for a while, plus there were heat lamps). She proceeded to explain why serving fast food to celebrities is fine when people like Graydon Carter do it at Oscar parties but definitely not okay for Trump, because buying burgers for football players is kinda fascist: “an attempt, however opportunistic, for a man who loves fast food to fulfill his straightforward desires — more Filet-o-Fishes and Quarter Pounders than one body could possibly consume, the teetering towers a quantifiable testament to his Presidential power.”
Sorry, but a guy who literally has the power to launch nuclear missiles isn’t flexing his Presidential muscles with a platter of Filet-o-Fish. What Trump showed off is his stone-cold, no-apologies American-ness. The New Yorker may think that’s banal. I’d say it’s cool.
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