In a scathing open letter to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, author, humorist and Prairie Home Companion ex-host Garrison Keillor said that Trump 2016 is a pathetic last-gasp attempt by the candidate to show up the snooty Manhattan elites who scorned him in the 1980s.
In the essay, published Wednesday afternoon, Keillor took Trump to task for everything from his "Make America great again" hat to his inability to read a teleprompter and scolded the childish businessman for making the U.S. political system into an arena for his petty vendettas and longstanding resentments.
"The cap does not look good on you," Keillor wrote, "it's a duffer's cap, and when you come to the microphone, you look like the warm-up guy, the guy who announces the license number of the car left in the parking lot, doors locked, lights on, motor running. The brim shadows your face, which gives a sinister look, as if you'd come to town to announce the closing of the pulp factory. Your eyes look dead and your scowl does not suggest American greatness so much as American indigestion. Your hair is the wrong color: People don't want a president to be that shade of blond. You know that now."
Trump, Keillor said, came from Queens to conquer Manhattan 40 years ago and "you discovered that in entertainment, the press, politics, finance, everywhere you went, you ran into Jews, and they are not like you: Jews didn't go in for big yachts and a fleet of aircraft — they showed off by way of philanthropy or by raising brilliant offspring. They sympathized with the civil rights movement."
To Trump, he wrote, people of color weren't so much people as a threat to property values, a menace to be litigated around, not an equal part of humanity worthy of celebrating.
Even so, the magnate hungered for approval from Manhattan's elite, said Keillor, yearned for "Mike Bloomberg to invite you to dinner at his townhouse" and for the New York Times to run "a three-part story about you, that you meditate and are a passionate kayaker and collect 14th-century Islamic mosaics."
"Running for president is your last bid for the respect of Manhattan," Keillor said. "If you were to win election, they couldn't ridicule you anymore. They could be horrified, but there is nothing ridiculous about being Leader of the Free World."
All of this is going wrong, now, for Trump. Keillor said that the former reality TV star is finding the discipline needed to run for office to be beyond his grasp.
"The teleprompter is not your friend," he said to Trump. "You are in the old tradition of locker room ranting and big honkers in the steam room, sitting naked, talking man talk, griping about the goons and ginks and lousy workmanship and the uppity broads and the great lays and how you vanquished your enemies at the bank."
That may have flown in the Republican primary, but this kind of retrograde thinking is anathema to today's voting public. Trump's fans, however, are embracing the nominee's inflexibility, even as it drags him lower and lower in the polls.
"You are losing," Keillor said, "and so are they but they love you for it."
"Meanwhile, you keep plugging away," he concluded. "It's the hardest work you've ever done. You walk out in the white cap and you rant for an hour about stuff that means nothing and the fans scream and wave their signs and you wish you could level with them for once and say one true thing: I love you to death and when this is over I will have nothing that I want."