“[Bob] Woodward writes that [Jared] Kushner advised people that one of the most important guiding texts to understand the Trump presidency was ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ a novel about a young girl who falls through a rabbit hole. He singled out the Cheshire cat, whose strategy was endurance and persistence, not direction.”
I have taken the liberty of rereading “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” to try to understand the Trump presidency, and I am more confused and afraid than ever!
“Alice in Wonderland” is the story of a little girl who falls through a rabbit hole into a nonsensical world full of hallucinogens! The idea that this is the text you really need to read to understand President Trump’s administration is like saying that the one text that will make it all make sense is “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” or Dante’s “The Inferno,” or that one Hieronymus Bosch painting full of demons playing trumpets with their posteriors. It’s as if Jared turned and pointed to a nightmarish image of melting clocks and was like, “Here we see the Trump administration!” I don’t love it, Jared!
The first thing that happens to Alice after she follows the rabbit into the hole is that she drinks something that makes her the wrong size and decides that her feet are becoming so far away that she will have to send new boots to them by letter carrier. This vision of an Alice who seems to take as assumed that a mail service exists and functions shows how early in the Trump presidency wonderland we are!
Then Alice sees where she is, cries many, many tears and almost drowns in them. This is probably what the Trump team would say happened at the Javits Center. She washes up onshore and enters a caucus race full of dodos — self-explanatory, but harsh of Jared!
Alice can’t remember any history or math and keeps reciting nonsense doggerel, but instead of asking for help or advice from a logical person, she asks a caterpillar who is under the influence of something he is smoking in a hookah, and he insults her and gives her reality-altering mushrooms. This could be literally any member of the Trump administration, except that none of them needs the aid of mushrooms to alter reality at any moment.
Later, Alice encounters the Cheshire Cat, apparently the embodiment of the best leadership philosophy you can have in the Trump administration. Alice asks the cat which way she ought to go; the cat asks where she is trying to get to, and she says she doesn’t care. The cat responds that it doesn’t matter, in that case, which way she goes. It then smiles, says several more things that do not make any sense and vanishes. This is most likely Mike Pence.
She has tea with the March Hare, the Mad Hatter and a dormouse who keeps falling asleep into his soup. I think this is supposed to give the impression of what it is like to attend a Cabinet meeting. The dormouse, I am absolutely certain, is Wilbur Ross. Given that the Mad Hatter is prone to wearing a hat with a message on it and being mad, he stands in for the ardent Trump supporter.
After tea, Alice winds up playing croquet with the Queen of Hearts, who keeps shouting, “Off with their heads!” at various parties; she uses a flamingo as a mallet and a hedgehog as a ball. I think this shows how the Trump administration approaches the use of government: There are tools designed for certain purposes that people have honed over a long time, but instead of even attempting to use them, you should seize a wild bird and bludgeon it repeatedly. It is good if everyone around you is terrified, at all times, of being beheaded. This is leadership.
Next is a section with a mock turtle and a gryphon, which, to be honest, I skimmed, because I think the premise is about worn out, but if a Mitch McConnell joke were to go anywhere, this is where it would go!
The mock turtle section includes a nonsensical poem about a lobster who has been baked too brown and needs to sugar his hair, which seems to correspond to the president, but the following bit, a trial, muddles it slightly. The triumph of loud illogic during this trial is an almost eerily exact replica of the Republican questions during the impeachment hearing, a chain of random non sequiturs presented as damning indictments! Did you know that not having done something incriminating proves that you are a guilty party, and vice versa? This section was uncanny! Anyway, off with everyone’s head!
The good thing is that at the end of all this, Alice wakes up and realizes that it has all been a curious dream. This is all well and good; I do not think we could stand going through the looking glass, too.