Rasslin’ With Power

Perhaps the two most tawdry spectacles in America are politics and professional wrestling, and president-elect Donald Trump has managed to merge them into something tawdrier yet. Trump has been a past performer in the professional rasslin’ ring, having famously shaved the head of World Wrestling Entertainment owner Vince McMahon following their “Battle of the Billionaires” at “Wrestlemania XXIII,” and now he’s recruited his past faux foe’s wife and business partner to run the Small Business Administration.
Linda McMahon is not without qualifications for the job, we must admit. Say what you will about the WWE, the McMahons have brought it from a small time local circuit to a big money-making global monopoly, and she’s also the founder and chief executive of Women’s Leadership Live, which advises independent businesswomen. In addition, she has some political experience from running a failed race for a Senate seat in Connecticut, where the “tea party” wave of 2010 didn’t quite reach, and she once staged a slapping match with her daughter for the entertainment of a crowd and has survived being kicked and body-slammed by Steve “Stone Cold” Austin‘and “tombstoned” by a behemoth named Kane, so at least she acts like she fights.
More pertinent selling points, we’re guessing, include her longstanding business relationship with Trump, the $6.5 million she contributed to his campaign, and the $5 million she’s contributed to the Trump Foundation, which supports such worthy causes as the reelection campaign of that Florida Attorney General who decided shortly after the check cleared to not pursue a case against Trump University. Trump frequently boasted during the campaign of all the favors he’d bought from politicians during his dazzling career, on the other hand, so perhaps he just considered the contributions another example of the business savvy McMahon will bring to the job, which is the very logic that got him elected.
In any case, we hold to a firm belief in the separation of politics and political wrestling, and contend that if only the founding fathers had been more farsighted they would have surely put something about in the Constitution. The last time the two came together was back in ’98 when Jesse “The Body” Ventura beat out Hubert Humphrey’s son and a perfectly reasonable Republican to become governor of Minnesota, and that did not end well. His crazy proposals for a unicameral legislature and instant run-off voting were rejected by both parties, 45 of the bills that did get passed were vetoed, he was bogged down a recall effort that focused on his use of state funds for a promotional book tour, and he left after one contentious term blaming everything on the media. Since then he’s been best known for peddling crackpot conspiracies and getting in bar fights with war heroes, and Minnesotans are still trying to remember what they were so fired-up angry about when electing him.
At the risk of sounding unfashionably elitist, we’d prefer that people in positions of political power have an innate sense of dignity that precludes them prancing around a ring in a feather boa, as “The Body” used to do, or shaving an opponent’s head, as “The Donald” once did, or getting “tombstoned” by some one-named giant in leotards or slap-fighting a daughter, as “The New Head of the Small Business Administration” has done. Presidents and their highest appointees were once recruited from the best of industry, academia, the military, sometimes the arts, oftentimes those who had proved themselves over long careers in politics, and although they frequently failed at least they did so with a certain dignified bearing. This is an age when reality shows and fake fights are all the rage, though, and with everyone so fired-up angry about something we suppose that the WWE’s newfound political was bound to happen.

— Bud Norman

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