I keep hearing people refer to Señor Trumpanzee as "former president Ubu." I like Pere Ubu's music and general aesthetic so I didn't get it. Then a former KSAN newscaster suggested I read this excerpt from Roger Shattuck' book, The Banquet Years, in which he describes French symbolist playwright Alfred Jarry's famous character Ubu Roi (1896), who he created when he was just 23 years old-- for an obscene parody of Macbeth.
"...Ubu has only his appetites, which he displays like virtues. When we try to injure him with our laughter (“satanic” laughter Baudelaire would call it), we discover that his behavior is so abject that we cannot reach him. He does not have traits of either a great hero or a great villain; he never deliberates. Can we really laugh at Ubu, at his character? It is doubtful, for he lacks the necessary vulnerability, the vestiges of original sin. Not without dread, we mock, rather, the childish innocence and primitive soul and cannot harm him. He remains a threat because he can destroy at will, and the political horrors of the twentieth century make the lesson disturbingly real."
Ubu Roi, an idiotic, power-hungry, greedy, murderous, narcissistic Polish king in the play, is sometimes translated as King Turd, since Ubu is just a meaningless made-up sound. When the play was first staged in Paris, there was a riot, with offended theater-goers beating up the actors. The run ended on opening night, the only time it was staged while Jarry was alive. (He died at 34 but Ubu became popularized in an art magazine Jarry edited which portrayed him as a bulbous royal with a cone-shaped head and a swirl on his stomach, shorthand for European fascism. Franco was often depicted as Ubu, including by Picasso and Miro.)
The resuscitation of Ubu as Trump isn't something you would expect most Republicans to enjoy-- short of, perhaps, senators Mitt Romney, Bill Cassidy, Lisa Murkowski and Ben Sasse and, in the House... I'd say Adam Kinzinger, Liz Cheney, Peter Meijer and... Texan Chip Roy. Roy is an interesting character who was profiled by the Wall Street Journal yesterday. He was Ted Cruz's chief of staff before running for Congress in a gerrymandered district that starts in bright blue Austin, meanders through red rural counties and winds up in San Antonio, also blue. The original gerrymander has been somewhat overtaken by demographics and last year Biden significantly outpolled Hillary and Obama, winning 47.9% of the vote. It's just a matter of time. Roy was challenged by Wendy Davis and had a tough race, eventually beating her 235,740 (52.0%) to 205,780 (45.4%), despite her spending $10.2 million to his $4.7 million.
The Journal predicts that next year's midterms will be "a case study in whether a conservative Republican usually aligned with Trump can survive politically after angering the former president-- even a modest amount. 'I’ve enormous respect for what the Trump administration did for this country,' Roy said in an interview. 'But you can have differences of opinion on this stuff. And if we can’t, then who are we as Americans? We’re supposed to be able to have those robust disagreements.' Other Republicans have been punished by GOP voters for perceived transgressions against Trump. For example, Ohio GOP Senate candidate Jane Timken has taken heat from conservative Republicans for initially not condemning Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump."
Roy’s most high-profile divergences with the former president began after the 2020 election, when Trump began pressing his supporters to challenge President Biden’s victory when Congress convened to certify the states’ electoral votes on Jan. 6. Roy was one of a handful of House Republicans who publicly spoke out in favor of certifying the results, saying it wasn’t the role of the federal government to intervene in states’ decisions.
Later, after pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol seeking to stop the certification, Roy said on the House floor that Trump had engaged in “clearly impeachable conduct-- pressuring the vice president to violate his oath to the Constitution to count the electors.” Then-Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over the vote count, rebuffed Trump by saying he didn’t have authority to overturn the will of voters.
However, unlike Mr. Gonzales and nine other Republicans, Mr. Roy didn’t ultimately vote to impeach Mr. Trump, citing concerns over how Democrats had drafted the article of impeachment.
“I don’t think that appeased or pleased anybody,” said George Hammerlein, president of Kerr County Patriots, a conservative group in Mr. Roy’s district, which lies between Austin and San Antonio.
But Hammerlein said he gave Roy credit for staying more than three hours at one of the group’s recent meetings, where he was lambasted by angry constituents. “There were some really hard-core supporters of Trump that just felt like he had killed their dog,” Hammerlein said. “He took the arrows in the chest for hours.”
...“He has not done a great job, and will probably be successfully primaried in his own district,” Trump said in a statement about Roy when he entered the race against Stefanik.
Roy’s decisions to split with Trump haven’t always sat well with his constituents who remain firmly allied with the former president.
“He should’ve stuck with Trump,” said Douglas Behrends, a Republican and heavy-equipment operator who lives in Blanco. “He’s still my president.”
...Roy has already drawn at least one primary challenger, GOP physician Robert Lowry, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission and flagged by the Texas Tribune. The deadline is Dec. 13 ahead of next year’s March 1 primary.
“It’s rare you don’t get someone who files. I think the question is, you know, how much will people get behind any particular candidate?” Roy said. “Time will tell on that.”
His political fate could be influenced by two factors: how much Trump decides to get involved in the race, and how state legislators redraw congressional district boundaries as part of the once-a-decade redistricting process. Under the reapportionment process that follows the U.S. Census, Texas will get two more House seats, setting up a reshuffling that could affect many of the state’s lawmakers.