Long before House of Cards, I learned how politics work through another TV show: The Dukes of Hazzard. For seven seasons, I watched Boss Jefferson Davis “J.D.” Hogg run Hazzard County. The wealthiest man in the region, he owned businesses ranging from J.D. Hogg Real Estate to the J.D. Hogg Funeral Home. Hogg used this wealth to purse a career in civic life.
Despite people frequently mocking his physical appearance, Hogg never let it stop him from being loud and flamboyant and openly greedy and often downright ridiculous and did it all so unapologetically that it occasionally made him surprisingly likable.
I mention this because I’m pretty sure Donald Trump has directly patterned his life on a CBS character played by the late Sorrell Booke, and last night he fully embraced his inner Hogg.
This is uncharted territory for America: No previous presidential nominee has ever done anything close to threatening to imprison his opponent, and we are a nation that elected Andrew Jackson, a man known to have gunned someone down during the course of living his everyday civilian life.
History may eventually note the second 2016 presidential debate occurred at an odd moment for Trump, falling after the release of the video where he brags about sexual assault, but before the release of the one where he allegedly uses the n-word. As Republicans abandoned him and Trump’s own running mate refused to campaign for him, Trump had yet another moment when a yearning nation turned to him and asked:
“Can you startle us one more time?”
And damned if he didn’t rise to the occasion, telling his opponent:
“I didn’t think I’d say this, but I’m going to say it, and I hate to say it. But if I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there has never been so many lies, so much deception. There has never been anything like it, and we’re going to have a special prosecutor.”
Now, winning the presidency comes with many perks—the house, the plane, it’s a great way to meet Led Zeppelin—but typically these privileges do not include tossing your former opponent in the hoosegow… and by introducing this proposal with the words, “I didn’t think I’d say this”, Trump made it clear this was just something he was sort of throwing out to the nation, as if even he was surprised he went to this particular place.
Understand, this is uncharted territory for America: No previous presidential nominee has ever done anything close to threatening to imprison his opponent, and we are a nation that elected Andrew Jackson, a man known to have gunned someone down during the course of living his everyday civilian life.
But it’s something Boss Hogg announced all the time: As any fan of the show knows, Hogg’s solution to every problem was to have Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane throw Luke and Bo Duke in jail A.S.A.P., with the exception of the one weird season where due to contract negotiations he was forced to imprison their cousins Coy and Vance.
Let’s face it: Trump and Hogg have a lot in common. They’re both, by the medical definition, obese (though Trump is smart enough not to wear white suits all the time to highlight it). They’ve both been known to offer financial support to people hitting others on their behalf. And they both love naming crap after themselves: Hogg’s businesses also include the J.D. Hogg Ice House, J.D. Hogg Gravel Company, and J.D. Hogg Log Mill.
So what can we expect from Boss Hogg/Donald Trump’s America? While Hogg made some questionable leadership choices—in the sense that every week he engaged in a corrupt scheme the Duke boys had to foil—Hazzard County had its charms, including fast cars, readily available moonshine and Catherine Bach in short shorts.
As we experience the final month of what has become an epically strange election, let us remember the immortal words of J.D. Hogg:
“Nobody ever said being stinky was easy.”