This week, the iconic soap opera Days of Our Lives was renewed for a record 60th season, which will make it the second longest running soap opera in American history, a year behind General Hospital, currently in its 60th year.
For the last eight years, ever since Donald J. Trump announced his run for the presidency, we have witnessed another long-running soap opera, complete with plot twists that include untold crimes, secret relationships, hush money, thievery, debauchery, immortality, incitement, palace intrigue, and robbery (allegedly, right?).
Soap operas, over the last few decades, have lost their allure. All My Children, One Life to Live, and As the World Turns, were all cancelled within the last 15 years. People grew tired of them, and with the rise of reality shows, the 24 hour news cycle, and the rise of tabloid journalism, there was no need for fictitious programs, when myriad soaps were playing out in real time, with real people, and real consequences.
The daytime serial of the corruption and deceitfulness of Trump has meant record viewers and clicks for stories related to all his ongoing melodramas. When he was running, and as president, one tweet from Trump could launch two- or three-day news cycles that kept viewers and readers locked in, until the next incendiary Trump tweet came along. It was akin to the old days of flipping back and forth from The Edge of Night to Guiding Light to Ryan’s Hope.
Trump’s storylines continued, many with resolution, as more storylines were piled on. And like soaps that have run their course, people started growing tired of all the performative elements of Trump’s daily soapies.
He was kicked off Twitter and Facebook, relegated to starting his own and far less consequential social channel, Truth Social, and his ramblings, diatribes, childish nicknames, and accusations were no longer being slobbered over by story assignment editors and the general public.
Now, perhaps the soapiest of all of Trump’s immoral deeds seems to be coming to crescendo. On Saturday, Trump, on his rickety Truth Social, announced that he will be arrested on Tuesday by the Manhattan District Attorney for his role in paying off a porn star to hide an illicit affair.
With his tiresome flair for spectacle, and in all caps, Trump, in part wrote: “THE FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE & FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK.” And he ominously added, PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”
It was only a matter of time for this indictment to occur. In December of 2018, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for tax evasion, making false statements to a federally insured bank, and campaign finance violations for his role in paying hush money to the now famous adult film star, Stormy Daniels. Cohen had pleaded guilty that August, and in exchange for a lighter sentence, agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
In Cohen’s plea deal, there was a reference to person “A” as an “unindicted co-conspirator.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who person “A” was. Now, nearly five years later, a grand jury presumably is ready to indict person “A”, i.e., Trump.
Now, come all the many questions. What will happen if/when Trump is arrested on Tuesday? Will he be perp walked and led to a waiting police car in handcuffs? Will he turn himself in, with his motorcade being whisked into an underground garage? Will he appear — hopefully disheveled like many before him — in a New York court room? Will bail be set? Or will he be held for his comments about inciting protests? Will he be treated like everyone else who is arrested and charged with a crime? Will there be a gag order imposed on Trump that will force him off Truth Social? Will we see riots in the street reminiscent of January 6?
It’s hard to imagine that any of our “dreams,” shall we say, of Trump being perp walked, with tousled hair, sweatpants and handcuffs, will come true. It’s also hard to fathom that Trump will be put in jail for his calls to protest. And, as we know by now, Trump and his lackluster team of attorneys — the bottom of barrel defenders — will work to gum up the system for as long as it takes to try and stop the inevitable.
Many have asked why it’s taken so long since Cohen and “A” were identified for Trump to finally be charged? There’s been mounting criticism of DA Alvin Bragg’s handling of Trump and all the illegality swirling around him.
Some claim, including Trump and his defenders, that Bragg was forced into a corner to indict because of a book written by one of Bragg’s former prosecutors. Mark Pomerantz claimed Bragg, as a newly-elected DA, stopped investigating Trump, and Pomerantz wrote a book lashing out at his former boss.
Others have said that the case against Trump might be weak, and thrown out. While others have said that Trump will be held accountable.
But here’s what we know. This indictment will be a circus. It will be a wild media feeding frenzy. It will almost be as if the tired, old and been there and done that soap opera of Donald Trump will be brought back to life. As the living incarnate of narcissism and someone who always must have an enemy, Trump will see his arrest and newfound newsworthiness as a bizarre return to glory.
Even if there’ s a gag order. Even if he is put under house arrest. Even if his phone is ordered taken away from him, there will be lots of noise emanating from Trump world. The media will dissect every aspect of these historic criminal charges. And it will only be the beginning.
What will follow might be beyond anyone’s imagination. The Georgia election interference indictment, the Trump Organization tax indictment, the Trump classified document indictment, Trump’s role in inciting an insurrection indictment, Trump’s illegal acceptance of foreign gifts indictment. It will be a resurgence of not one, but multiple soap operas, with their own casts, their own plot twists, and infinite cliff hangers.
It will be Trump all day, every day 2.0.
In the summer of 1974, after Richard Nixon resigned, former President Gerald Ford uttered those famous words, “Our long, national nightmare is over.” Many of us probably assumed that once Trump was arrested that our penance for suffering through his sins would end. However, with his looming arrest, and others to follow, our long, national nightmare is ready to start all over again.
John Casey is The Advocate‘s senior editor.
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