Chauncey Gardiner, the Messiah Complex and How Jerzy Kosiński Got One Thing Wrong

I recently made a comment to the October 12, 2022 NY Times article House Jan. 6 Panel Plans a Sweeping Summation of Its Case Against Trump  

In what may be its final public hearing, the committee intends to present new evidence about the former president’s state of mind and central role in the plan to overturn the 2020 election.
New York Times – October 12, 2022

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Gustav | San Francisco
I am still a bit on the fence about President Trump. Did he incite a mob that then violently invaded the capital to stop the election certification? It could have been just one of his First Amendment comedy routines. Did he make calls to election officials in Georgia to “find” 12,000 votes? You would do it if you were a billionaire. It will be in the follow up sequel to “The Art of the Deal – Season II.” Did he walk off with top secret documents? Not a chance. We all know President Trump does not know how to read. How can he possibly be guilty of sedition? He’s a seemingly wealthy white guy with really fantastic hair. He must be innocent.

Initially the comment was approved and must of passed through their AI detector but then was pulled down – being disingenuous I guess was the reason. I made the comment in jest just to point out how the fact that Donald Trump has not been carted off to jail is absurd. Indeed, the only thing that seems that would put him in jail is if he did actually shoot someone, point-blank on 5th Avenue.

But it could have been unpublished simply because my comment stated that Donald Trump does not “know how to read.” This may be a untrue as it would be more accurate to say that “he does not like to read.”

In any event, it got me thinking about Jerzy Kosiński and his brilliant 1970 novel Being There which was turned into a movie starring Peter Sellers as Chauncey Gardiner. Today Chauncey Gardiner would be diagnosed as being “on the spectrum.” He lived a protected life, never venturing out of the house and besides the few people he saw and the garden he tended, his outside reality was defined completely by television. Sound familiar? He was illiterate.  When his guardian dies he has to venture alone out into the world. The story unfolds with Chauncey becoming an endearing figure to the rich and powerful as well as the common folk. They become enamored with his simple child-like logic about the world. In the end, the political leaders of the country discuss making Chauncey Gardiner the next President of the United States. The story ends with  Chauncey Gardiner, a Christ-like figure, walking on water across a lake.

In many ways Chauncey Gardiner was a premonition of what was to come. Chauncey Gardiner and Donald Trump do share the fact that they both either cannot read or do not read. They both have gained favor with the rich and powerful and certain common people by their obsession with television and simplistic views of the world. The similarities end there. While Chauncey is a benign character, comparing every aspect of life to the care of a garden, Trump is the opposite. His character was probably best summarized by Michael Cohen, his former lawyer.

“In some ways, I knew him better than even his family did because I bore witness to the real man, in strip clubs, shady business meetings, and in the unguarded moments when he revealed who he really was: a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man, – Michael Cohen

But then again, oddly enough, Kosiński perhaps got something right. Such characters do become Christ-like characters as we witness the MAGA crowd adoration of their messiah.

I wonder what Peter Sellers would have had to say about our present situation.  He probably would have told a joke – with a straight face of course.