Friday, May 27, 2016

U.S.A.! U.S.A.! vol. 77

Is Everything Wrestling?

For a while, it became trendy to insist that the 2016 presidential election, with all its puffed chests and talk of penis size, seemed more like a wrestling pay-per-view event than a dignified clash of political minds. In politics, as in wrestling, the ultimate goal is simply to get the crowd on your side. And like all the best wrestling villains — or “heels” — Donald Trump is a vivacious, magnetic speaker unafraid to be rude to his opponents; there was even a heelish consistency to his style at early debates, when he actively courted conflict with the moderator, Megyn Kelly, and occasionally paused to let the crowds boo him before shouting back over them. (The connection isn’t just implied, either: Trump was inducted to the WWE’s Hall of Fame in 2013, owing to his participation in several story lines over the years.) Ted Cruz’s rhetorical style, with its dramatic pauses, violent indignation and tendency to see every issue as an epic moral battleground, was sometimes reminiscent of great wrestling heels. The way Rick Perry called Trump’s candidacy a “cancer” that “will lead the Republican Party to perdition” before endorsing Trump and offering to serve as his vice president: this was a tacit admission that all his apocalyptic rhetoric was mainly for show. Pure wrestling, in other words.

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