Off the Record, by Kevin Sweeney

For some reason, the past week since Donald Trump’s inauguration reminds me of a scene from Woody Allen’s 1971 political farce, “Bananas.”

In the film, Allen plays Fielding Mellish, a New York nebbish who goes to the tiny Latin American republic of San Marcos to impress his activist girlfriend. While there he falls in with the rebels who are fighting to overthrow the country’s dictator. After the rebels win, their leader, the new president, addresses the people:

“From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish,” he says. “In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16 years old are now… 16 years old!”

One of the other rebels turns to Allen and whispers, “He is mad with power!”

Since his inauguration, Trump has ordered his press secretary to issue a statement that they were wrong about the crowd at his inauguration — it was the BIGGEST EVER! (There is ample evidence that it wasn’t.)

One of his top aides, Kellyanne Conway, explained the administration’s assertions on the inauguration by explaining they were presenting “alternative facts,” giving us the new catch phrase of the decade.

He paid a visit to the CIA headquarters and turned his visit into a rant about how dishonest and unfair the news media are. He met with Congressional leaders and repeated his claim that he would have won the popular vote (he actually lost by 3 million) if not for massive voting fraud by illegal immigrants. (There is absolutely no evidence for such a claim). He then announced he is ordering a government investigation into the voting fraud.

He has signed an executive order to start building the wall along the Mexico border immediately, despite not having the money or approval from Congress.

He also tweeted that if the Chicago city government didn’t “stop the carnage,” he would send in the feds to do it for them.

We have to wonder how many of Trumps aides, like the rebels in “Bananas,” are thinking, “He is mad with power.”

In the movie, the rebels assassinated their new leader and installed Fielding Mellish as the new president of San Marcos. I certainly don’t advocate doing that with Trump.

However, there is another old TV show from that era that might hold a solution. In the old “Mission Impossible” show, Jim Phelps (played by Peter Graves, whose great grandfather was an early resident of New Ulm, so you know he’s trustworthy) and his IM team were always drugging and kidnapping some bad or inconvient person and taking him to a secret location where they had set up an exact replica of someplace else, so they wouldn’t know they were kidnapped.

Perhaps someone could do the same with Trump, and stash him away in the presidential emergency bunker. They could tell him North Korea has launched a nuclear attack and he has to stay in the bunker to run things during this emergency while the nuclear fallout in DC cools down. They could feed him “official” communications to make him think he was spending the next four years in the bunker, while he was saving the country.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence would run the country.

Yes, I know that would be wrong. It would be expensive. Trump’d probably figure out that Melania is actually Martin Landau in disguise.

We need to be patient with President Trump while he gets used to the trappings of office, and finds out what he can and cannot do. Let him calm down and get used to a job where he is accountable to other people, instead of the other way around.

It may be a long four years, but we’ll get through it. If you see me staring out the window sometime, however, you’ll know I’m thinking, “Mr. Phelps, your mission, if you choose to accept it…”


Kevin Sweeney has been the managing editor of The Journal since May 1985. A native of St. Paul, he worked at newspapers in LeSueur and Albert Lea before moving to New Ulm. Contact him at ksweeney@nujournal.com.