It’s time for recombobulation after this long-running smash-hit presidential campaign, which you have enjoyed to the hilt and don’t deny it. Never been anything like it. The hulking duke of darkness, the nasty lady in white. Goodbye, high school civics. Hello, Shakespeare. But now we must deal with serious business, such as the foolishness of the Smithsonian wanting to spend $300,000 to preserve Dorothy’s ruby-red slippers from “The Wizard of Oz.” (No, no, no, no, no. They’re only shoes, folks. If you want to see them, watch the movie and Judy Garland will click the heels together. Spend the money to sweeten the retirement plans of museum guards.) And we must deal with Bob and his attitude toward the Nobel Prize for Literature and will he go to Stockholm in December?
Bob is embarrassed by the prize. He’s from Minnesota, he has a conscience. He has written a few good love songs and some memorable phrases, and the Swedes have embraced him as if he were Homer, which he is not. Elvis loved his fans and bestowed himself on them, and Bob refuses to speak to them and simply whips through 90 minutes of repertoire and picks up the check and boards the bus. For this, the critics kneel at his feet, rocking back and forth, murmuring benedictions. Precious few have dared to question the prize for Lit going to a performer, but Bob is queasy about it. We Minnesotans know about unworthiness.
And let us, while we’re on the subject, deal with the ridiculous Mark Twain Prize for American Humor given out annually by the Kennedy Center to famous actors and comedians. Mark Twain was an author. He wrote “Huckleberry Finn,” remember? Huck and Jim on the raft? Ring a bell? He gave lectures for money to pay his debts when he was broke but literature was his calling. The prize should go to Carl Hiaasen, a wildly humorous author from Florida, who writes his books all by his own self. He does not hire writers as many of the Twain Prize winners do. Otherwise the Kennedy Center should change the name to The Shecky Greene Prize for American Comedy. Giving a prize named for the author of “The Innocents Abroad” to Bill Murray is like awarding the Heisman Trophy to a bowler. Wrong sport.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get back to the election. It worries me that Mr. Trump will walk away on Nov. 9 and say, “Hey, it’s been great, who would’ve thunk it?” and go play golf and leave the angry guys in the town tavern to soak in their own bile. They supported him 185 percent, bought his caps, did not flinch as his campaign hit the potholes. If the big lummox absconds to the fairway and the marble halls and crystal chandeliers, who is going to speak for them and say our leaders are stupid, the system is rigged, crime is rampant, thousands of Arabs are streaming into the country, nobody checking their IDs, and America is on the brink of ruination?
Let me whisper one word in the man’s ear: Apprentice. Maybe before you become Leader of the Free World, you need to prove your mettle in a lower echelon position, such as governor of Iowa.
Mr. Trump is well-liked in Iowa. Des Moines would be a good place for him to show off his governing skills. He could deport the migrant workers who are employed in the slaughterhouses and he could get Iowa teenagers to take their place, bonking hogs in the forehead and cutting their throats and gutting and skinning them. He could pass a law against Chinese investment in the hog business. He could clean up the rivers where the fertilizer winds up that produces the phenomenal corn yields. The New York Times would leave him alone – they don’t want to go to Iowa, the sushi is not great, the bars don’t stock the hot new vodkas – and slowly his reputation would recover.
Got to ditch the 757. Buy a Cessna four-passenger and hire a pilot named Dave. Carry your own suitcase. Ditch the hair stylist. Find a barbershop with a striped pole, and tell the barber, “Short on the sides, not too long on the top.” Build a tower in Des Moines and don’t name it after you. Be a good governor. Solve problems and share the credit with others. Be gracious to visiting groups of Girl Scouts, seniors, Reformed Church members, high school football teams. We’ll be watching. We’ll take another look at you in 2019.
Garrison Keillor is an author and radio personality.