Back to the Inferno — with Trump!

Twelve years ago, as Barack Obama became President, I looked back over the eight years of George W. Bush’s rather shoddy performance and mused about where Dante might have placed him in hell. (Now that we’ve had even worse in the White House — a malevolent, venal, corrupt sociopathic narcissist — it’s easy to forget how bad Bush 43 was.)

I came across that blogpost recently and it occurred to me that if anyone were deserving of eternal punishment, it would be Donald J. Trump, and so here we go again!

With Bush, I started at the bottom and worked my way back up, but with Trump, it’s down, down, down we go.[1]

Circle 1: Limbo

The first circle of Dante’s Inferno is for those who weren’t really sinners per se, but who had the misfortune to be square pegs in the Catholic Church’s round holes: virtuous pagans born before Christ, infants who died before baptism, that kind of thing. There is no place for Donald Trump here.

Circle 2: The Lustful

And here we go. “Grab ‘em by the pussy.” Stormy McDaniels. Backstage at beauty pageants. E. Jean Carroll. Cthulhu only knows with Jeffrey Epstein. If we’ve ever before had a president with such appetites of the flesh, he didn’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses. Trump had no such compunctions. (I will note, for those who didn’t click through to read the Bush piece, that I saw no reason for Bush to go into the Lustful, or the Gluttonous.)

Circle 3: The Gluttonous

Whenever the White House released the results of Trump’s annual physical, the whole world snickered: 6’3”, 244 pounds? Honey, please. Multiple photos of him standing next to men we know to be 6’3” make it clear he’s not that tall, and his diet of fast food is notorious. He’s a pig.

Circle 4: The Avaricious

Where do we begin? He has enriched himself while in the White House by tens of millions of dollars, and he is always looking for the next scam. He has spent the months since the election scamming his followers of their money to “support” his efforts to “reclaim” the election, most of which went straight into his pockets. Where next can he get someone else to build a tower and slap his name on it? (Probably nowhere at this point, since his finances are in shambles.)

There is also the matter of his enriching the 1% with the 2017 tax scam and plunging the budget into more debt than ever before, but that’s more on the Republican party as a whole.

Circle 5: The Wrathful

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I give you the man’s Twitter account. Well, an archive of his account, since Twitter tossed his obese ass off the service finally. He is well-known to rage at anyone who gainsays him; during the final weeks of his administration, White House staff were quoted as saying they simply avoided interacting with him if at all possible — and this included his inner circle.

Circle 6: The Heretical

Dante was more concerned with people like Muhammad or the Epicureans, but Trump’s irreligiousness was stunning in its hypocrisy, particularly since the actual god-botherers bent themselves into Cirque du Soleil gymnastics to overlook it. “Two Deuteronomy.” Not ever having done anything to ask God’s forgiveness for. The whole teargas stunt with the Bible.

Above all, the man’s administration could not have been more opposed to the basic tenets of Christian caritas if it tried — and it tried. The cruelty was the point.

Circle 7: The Violent

Jan. 6.

But even more than the terrorist attack on the Capitol, Trump’s entire modus operandi was that of a mob boss: threats, grudges, retaliations. If you were not absolutely for him, if you were not kissing his ass, then you were against him, and that made you his enemy and his target.

Circle 8: The Fraudulent

Trump University. Trump Foundation. Trump Steaks. Trump Taj Mahal. Trump everything. Over 30,000 lies during his tenure, so many that the fact checkers at the Washington Post threw up their hands and admitted defeat. As Eric Wilson memorably coined, “Everything Trump Touches Dies.”

Circle 9: Traitors

Putin’s bounties on our troops. The refusal to plan for the Covid-19 pandemic, abandoning half a million Americans to their deaths and the working poor to a living hell. Trump’s betrayal of anyone who crossed him. I would also argue that Trump’s Big Lie of the election being fraudulently stolen from him was the ultimate treasonous act: he betrayed this country’s trust in its systems for purely personal benefit. He wanted power — he tried to claim far more power than presidents have (and the Republican Congress did little to stop him) — and he was willing to do anything to get it and to keep it.

Unlike George W. Bush, who got a pass on Lust, Gluttony, and Heresy, Donald J. Trump belongs in every circle but the First Circle, and even that’s damning[2] since Limbo is for the essentially innocent. In Dante’s plan, your soul passed through the circles of hell to the lowest one for which you were culpable, but for Trump, I think we can go further and split his soul eight different ways so that he is tortured for eternity in all of them.

Hey, look, sir, you got more soul fragments than Voldemort! The greatest ever! Many people are saying… with tears in their eyes.


[1] I was also more detailed in my examination of the different regions of hell, but better people than I have written entire books on Trump’s crimes, so I’ve kept this short.

[2] Yes, I see what I did there.

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