I Am Trump, the Great and Powerful!

Denslow, the Wizard of Oz exposed

William Denslow, the Wizard of Oz exposed


This past Friday Americans got to play a scene from L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz, complete with a collapsing screen. Or in this case, a collapsing backdrop.

As you no doubt have heard, Trump flimflammed everyone with his announcement of a press conference where he would retract the lie about President Obama’s birthplace that he has been peddling for the past seven years. While he did indeed retract the lie, he replaced it with two others: 1) that he stopped his birther claims after Obama produced his long form Hawaiian birth certificate and 2) that Hillary Clinton originated birtherism.

The “press conference,” meanwhile, was instead an opportunity to a) showcase a new Trump hotel and b) parade a number of military figures, some of them birthers, who are supporting him. Even cynical reporters were taken aback by Trump’s utter contempt for them. But as evidence that the gods weren’t entirely willing to let the incident go, here’s the New York Times reporting on the event’s conclusion:

Mr. Trump took no questions after his remarks about Mr. Obama. As reporters shouted questions, he smiled and left the room.

Not long after, the structure holding up the curtain that had provided a backdrop for his remarks collapsed, sending American flags toppling to the ground.

Which brings us to the moment where “the Great and Terrible Oz” is exposed:

“You must keep your promises to us!” exclaimed Dorothy.

The Lion thought it might be as well to frighten the Wizard, so he gave a large, loud roar, which was so fierce and dreadful that Toto jumped away from him in alarm and tipped over the screen that stood in a corner. As it fell with a crash they looked that way, and the next moment all of them were filled with wonder. For they saw, standing in just the spot the screen had hidden, a little old man, with a bald head and a wrinkled face, who seemed to be as much surprised as they were. The Tin Woodman, raising his axe, rushed toward the little man and cried out, “Who are you?”

“I am Oz, the Great and Terrible,” said the little man, in a trembling voice. “But don’t strike me–please don’t–and I’ll do anything you want me to.”

Upon reflection, the Wizard of Oz parallel is even more accurate than I first realized. Trump too can collapse when people stand up to him. Reporters noted how passive and meek he was when meeting with the Mexican president, and he quickly backed off of his bluster when a black woman pastor in Flint, Michigan stopped him from bashing Clinton in her church. In each instance, Trump regained his bravado in recounting the episode afterwards, but that’s the way it is with bullies. They are great and terrible until someone knocks over the screen.

Further thought: There is one significant difference between the Wizard of Oz and Trump. When caught out, Oz at least admits that he’s a humbug whereas Trump doubles down. Trump interviewers can only dream of having a moment like the following:

“Making believe!” cried Dorothy. “Are you not a Great Wizard?”

“Hush, my dear,” he said. “Don’t speak so loud, or you will be overheard–and I should be ruined. I’m supposed to be a Great Wizard.”

“And aren’t you?” she asked.

“Not a bit of it, my dear; I’m just a common man.”

“You’re more than that,” said the Scarecrow, in a grieved tone; “you’re a humbug.”

“Exactly so!” declared the little man, rubbing his hands together as if it pleased him. “I am a humbug.”

The backdrop collapses as MSNBC's Katy Tur reports

The backdrop collapses as MSNBC’s Katy Tur reports

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