As has been our American tradition since our Founding Fathers first gripped the Constitution in their cold robot hands, today saw another ceremonial addition to the hallowed Hall of Presidents—a simulacrum of slack, rubbery flesh spouting empty platitudes, a puppet installed at the behest of giant corporations who have agreed to just dismiss its most unsettling and inhuman qualities on the basis that, hey, they’re all like that, really. The animatronic Donald J. Trump made its auspicious debut at Walt Disney World on Tuesday, where he will offer visitors waiting out the rain or long ride lines an uncanny replica of the real thing, in the sense that he will interrupt their otherwise joyful afternoons with the reminder that he is president. His robot tie also looks appropriately shitty.
In all other aspects, of course, Robot Trump is easily distinguishable from the real thing by its not watching TV, not saying anything embarrassing or casually horrifying, and overall, its humility. After charitably not interrupting George Washington, it even delivers a safe, tidy little speech about how “to be an American is to be an optimist, to believe that we can always do better and that the best days of our great nation are still ahead of us” without even bringing up all the carnage currently spraying blood across our nation’s rusted-out factories—all while the impeached Andrew Johnson glares at him like c’mon already. Clearly Disney’s acquisition of Trump, as with so many of its franchises, meant transforming its grimmer qualities into something far more family-friendly.
And of course, as Twitter has been pointing out, Robot Trump also doesn’t resemble Trump so much as a lot of other things: Jon Voight. Peter Boyle. Billy Graham. Lloyd Bridges. Angela Lansbury. A Hillary Clinton animatronic that was changed into Trump at the last minute. Personally, I think it looks like Kuato from Total Recall got all gussied up to apply for a bank loan.
Nevertheless, he is our Robot President now, and—despite the internal strife he caused among Disney’s Imagineers, followed by some petitions that forced Disney to respond to calls to silence him, then install big security spikes on the stage—Trump-bot will be there for as long as this esteemed American institution stands, until the Hall’s inevitably torn down and he’s added to the Country Bear Jamboree.