“For clarification,” the Church of Satan helpfully tweeted, “this is not a Satanic ritual.” So what is it? Something sinister, surely, some species of power Sabbath or midnight summit. Three rulers of men, three pairs of hands on an orb of white light. On the left, smiling and fatuously composed, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt; in the center, high-shouldered and witchily titillated, King Salman of Saudi Arabia; and on the right, basking, gently broiling in the orb’s glow, Donald Trump. Of the three men, he appears the happiest, the most conspicuously nourished by this wacky, inhuman light. See how it searches out the paler densities of his face, how it touches off the golden flare of his eyebrows. Behind him is the enigma: Melania Trump, vacant and flawlessly intense, like a pole vaulter clearing her mind before an attempt at the world record.
I have waited in vain these two Trumpy years for an American equivalent of the English word naff to present itself. Naff, which has its roots, possibly, in Polari or gay slang, indicates an extreme of unstylishness—not just bad taste or no taste, but a vulgarity so vast and humorless that it precludes the possibility of taste altogether. Bright-red baseball hats: naff. Wanting a military parade: naff! The first family on inauguration night, listening from behind a plastic screen to a performance by 3 Doors Down: a blazing nirvana of naffness.