The release next month of a new version of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ may be, as we’ll see, timely, but I doubt the movie will have the same impact on me as the star-studded original did when I half-saw it while hiding behind the sofa at the age of eight or so. I found the film so upsetting because it’s a multiple murder mystery – the plot shows that the victim was such an abhorrent bastard that pretty much everyone he came into contact with had more than enough motive to stick a dagger deep into his guts. But how, you might ask, does that make the movie timely? Well…
Robert Reich yesterday posted the transcript of a conversation he had with an old friend, a Republican former member of Congress. His friend bemoaned the situation that so many Republicans find themselves in: on the one hand, they’re pretty much all fully aware that Donald “President” Trump is out of control and beyond all reason, a perfect human shitstorm of insanity, stupidity and evil who could, on a momentary whim in response to the merest slight his befogged brain might perceive via ‘Fox & Friends’, unleash a planetary catastrophe of unprecendented proportions – or, even worse, damage the mid-term prospects of the Republican Party. The bind that the poor Republicans find themselves is that although they are aware of all the above, and would – in at some least some noble cases – prefer the human race to survive, they also really, really want to give themselves a huge tax cut, and so are disinclined to disembark from the Trump Train for the time being. You can imagine their frustration. (Not for nothing did Noam Chomsky call the GOP the most dangerous organisation on the planet.) Then there are individual Republicans who have been betrayed and/or publicly humiliated, some of whom happen to combine a history of violence with proximity to their tormentor: former soldier John McCain (who’s going to die soon anyway); John Kelly, who has been wearing an army uniform and carrying a loaded weapon since the age of 3; erstwhile oil baron/mass-murderer Rex Tillerson; and Ayn Rand-worshipping psychopath Paul Ryan. All of whom happen to be firm believers in the primacy of the 2nd Amendment and thus subscribers to the notion that political violence can be both righteous and redemptive. The list of those insulted by Trump also includes: the entire populations of Mexico, Qatar, Iran, North Korea and Puerto Rico; pretty much all NFL and most NBA players; 800,000 DACA recipients and their friends and relatives; the families of the four soldiers killed in Niger last week; the entire surviving US military and anyone who respects the Stars and Stripes; all journalists and everyone with regard for the freedom of the press and the First Amendment; anyone who might need healthcare and/or isn’t a white supremacist; all those of us who care about our children; every single human being who doesn’t want to die in a nuclear holocaust; anyone who doesn’t share his profound contempt for the entire human species; Rosie O’Donnell; all women who are not Rosie O’Donnell, plus, obviously, Rosie O’Donnell again; Russell Brand; and, why the hell not, just for good measure, me.
Speaking of me, this is what I wrote last November:
The US Republican Party is now faced with the conundrum of managing a situation which is to all intents and purposes impossible. There may already be whispers in the arras that he could be forcibly removed…few rational people living or dead would be all that opposed to a good old-fashioned off-stage poisoning or stabbing. Or possibly an air crash? I sincerely hope that 1) there are still some Republican leaders out there who still have some measure of faith in the values they profess and the integrity to implement them and 2) that they have left no options off the table.
It’s also worth noting that at the end of the film, Monsieur Poirot (played by Albert Finney) gracefully declines to arrest the twelve people responsible for ridding the world of such a repugnant beast, declaring (with a knowing look to the camera) that he has the ‘honneur to retire from the case’ – after all, the victim had been ‘deservedly murdered’. I hope that whoever dons the pince-nez and the twirly moustache in the 2017 version is able to deliver such lines with similar panache and make its implicit message of blithe impunity clear to all those with the means to respond accordingly. As for the motive, everyone who’s not catastrophically deluded and/or criminally complicit has more than enough of those. As with that other ‘elderly, malevolent American’ ‘Samuel Ratchett’, no sane human being would mourn the more-than-timely death of Donald Trump.