Many years ago, when I was working at a Hollywood production company, a coworker went out to dinner with an out-of-town friend. When conversation turned to work, my colleague explained that he was producing marketing for a film by the director Michael Bay. His friend was no fan of Bayhem, it turned out, and issued a tirade against the director’s work.
Toward the end of the evening, an older woman approached their table. “I couldn’t help but overhear you talking about Michael Bay,” she began. And then, because of course she was: “I’m Michael Bay’s mother. And you’ve got him all wrong.”
It was Friday night. By Monday morning, the elder Bay had called the director himself, who had called the studio, who had called our offices. An unnecessary but punitive penance was assigned. We took our licks and kept doing whatever forgettable work we were contributing to whatever forgettable film it promoted. We knew the rules, which were feudal: When the king summons you, you show up to court, you kneel, you hear his verdict, and you slowly back away.
Donald Trump is the Michael Bay of politics. Gaudy and loutish—but also dynamic and arresting. Someone who gets attention, makes money, and earns respect by their means. For people like that, the resulting power can be lorded over those who cannot, or will not, refuse to pledge fealty to it.