Magazine | April 25, 2016, Issue

Choose Your Adventure!

The Republican Party Edition


Republican-party front-runner Donald J. Trump pads into the “thinking room” in his elegant, palatial Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago. As he sits on his gilded and intricately carved seat, beneath the impish grins of the constellation of cherubs carved overhead, his eyes narrow and his lips pooch out. He sighs loudly.

“What am I going to do?” Donald J. Trump asks himself, unexpectedly aloud.

There’s a knock on the door. It’s his loving wife, Melania. “Donald? Donald? What is happening in there? Are you in distress?”

“I’m fine, dearest,” he answers.

“You are talking to who?”

“I’m musing aloud, dear one,” Donald J. Trump responds to his wife. “I’m thinking. I’m sitting and thinking and tweeting.”

“Tweeting? That is what, now?”

Donald J. Trump sighs again. His wife is, in many ways, the perfect woman. But her English still isn’t as fluent as he’d like. She’s trying, he tells himself. You must learn not to be so hard on people, he thinks.

“I’m on Twitter, love of my life. But I’ll be out in a moment.”

He hears her expensively shod feet clickety-clack away on the marble floor. The imported marble floor. And he goes back to his thinking.

He never expected it to go this far. He thought, like everyone else, that he’d dip into the race, maybe stick around until Iowa, then drop out dramatically and be done with it. “I’m just going to sell some steaks,” he told his family. “This whole thing will give me great insight when I assume the chair of the political-science department at Trump University.”

But now, on the eve of the Republican convention, he’s faced with a dark and impossible choice. He’s close enough to the magic number of delegates to wheel and deal his way to the nomination. But sitting here in his most favorite “thinking place,” among the cherubs and the high-end air fresheners, alone, he’s torn. Does he really want to be president? With everyone yelling at him and nagging him all the time? With the trick questions? It’s bad for his health, all of this campaigning. He’s tense and his skin is itchy. And even right here, in his favorite “thinking place,” he realizes that the pace and strain of campaigning has made even this once-restful part of the day another painful ordeal.

On the other hand, think of the licensing opportunities!! Think of the brand extensions and the logo items!!

“What’s it going to be, Donald J. Trump?” he asks out loud, using the special nickname he uses for himself. “Do you want it or not? Do you go for it?”



Donald J. Trump reaches for the phone that sits on an ivory cradle next to his solid-gold seat. “I’m so glad I had this special charger built in,” he thinks to himself. “It’s called good planning,” he says as he dials the phone.

He realizes that he’s in an amazing and unprecedented position. His followers, it dawns on him, will do whatever he asks. They are devoted to him. His delegates, now assembling in Cleveland, are his to direct. That makes him a kingmaker.

“I like the sound of that,” he says to himself. “Kingmaker!” Just saying the word makes him feel tingly –  although that might be his leg going to sleep. It happens sometimes in this very position.

“Hello?” comes the voice from the other end of the line.

“Hello. This is Donald J. Trump,” says Donald J. Trump. “Who am I speaking to?”



Donald J. Trump lays out the scenario. He doesn’t want to be president. But someone smart and brainy and basically a 6 or 7, let’s be honest, should be president. He knows the former secretary of state a little — didn’t they do an event together, for that charity that does the thing for the disease that makes your skin like a toenail or whatever?

“You mean scleroderma?” asks former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.

“Yeah. That,” says Donald J. Trump, shifting a little on his seat. But as he lays out his thinking, he can sense that she’s warming to the idea. He announces that he’s dropping out and tells his delegates to throw their support to her. She then accepts and announces her running mate.

“And who would that be?” Condoleezza Rice asks Donald J. Trump.



“Let me conference the three of us in,” says Donald J. Trump.

“It sounds very echo-y where you are,” says former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.

“It’s called Italian marble, dear,” says Donald J. Trump.


In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners


Politics & Policy


Why Banks Hate Bucks In his piece “The Abolition of Cash” (April 11), Andrew Stuttaford left out the “drag” on the economy imposed by the “cut” that the banks and processing ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ Lindsey Graham has proven he’s willing to do just about anything to stop serving in the Senate alongside Ted Cruz. ‐ Could Paul Ryan emerge from the Republican convention with ...
The Long View

Choose Your Adventure!

The Republican Party Edition™ BEGIN HERE Republican-party front-runner Donald J. Trump pads into the “thinking room” in his elegant, palatial Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago. As he sits on his gilded and intricately ...
Politics & Policy


WHO IS THE STRANGER WHO OVERTAKES ME Who is the stranger who overtakes me On a dark street and taps me on the shoulder? I turn and there is nobody there but me, And ...

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Yes, They Are Coming for Your Guns

At the Democratic-primary debate in Houston last night, Beto O’Rourke formally killed off one of the gun-control movement’s favorite taunts: The famous “Nobody is coming for your guns, wingnut.” Asked bluntly whether he was proposing confiscation, O’Rourke abandoned the disingenuous euphemisms that have ... Read More
White House

Politico Doubles Down on Fake Turnberry Scandal

It's tough to be an investigative reporter. Everybody who feeds you a tip has an axe to grind. Or, alternatively, you find yourself going, "I wonder if . . . ?" You put in your research, you talk to lots of people, you accumulate a huge pile of information, but you still haven't proved your hypothesis. A wise ... Read More
White House

Rachel Maddow’s Turnberry Tale

To a certain kind of Rachel Maddow viewer, there are few more titillating preludes to a news segment than the one she delivered Monday: “If you have not seen it yet, you are going to want to sit down.” Maddow’s story began, as many of her stories do, with President Trump, this time focused on his hotel ... Read More

Four Cheers for Incandescent Light Bulbs

It brought me much -- indeed, too much -- joy to hear of the Trump administration's rollback of restrictions on incandescent light bulbs, even if the ban will remain in place. The LED bulbs are terrible. They give off a pitiable, dim, and altogether underwhelming "glow," one that never matched the raw (if ... Read More