Friday, December 18, 2015
Donald Trump likes to call people "stupid." And/or "loser."
Obviously, it's juvenile.
Also obviously, Republican primary voters are into it. They like Trump's short declarative sentences -- the secret sauce of which is namecalling.
Trump's namecalling, so loud and so short on specifics, drives the establishment political writers who dominate corporate media crazy. I suspect this is because it doesn't give them much to do: no 12-point plans to debunk, no statistics to factcheck, no rhetorical rabbit holes in which to run around in circles at 50 cents a word.
I think it's fabulous.
Not his politics. Those are reprehensible. For the purpose of this week's column, however, let's focus on The Donald's namecalling.
First, though, I'm not at all into the "loser" thing.
Consider the source: It's hard not to win when you inherit a fortune from your dad. Trump started the marathon of life at mile 25-1/2.
Competition does more harm than good, especially the way we do it here in America. Consider athletics: Everyone who doesn't win a gold medal or get ranked first in his or her sport is technically a loser. But those "losers" include a lot of superb athletes, many of whom are separated from the gold by random hundredths of a second in some race that easily could have gone another way. Not to mention, competition is subject to the corruption, nepotism and bad taste that determines that neither Patti Smith nor Public Enemy deserve a Grammy while Toto and Milli Vanilli do. If Patti Smith is a "loser," there's something wrong with the dictionary.
There is, on the other hand, something wonderfully refreshing about Donald Trump's gleeful deployment of the S-word.
"She is the one that caused all this problem with her stupid policies," Trump said, referring to Hillary Clinton. "You look at what she did with Libya, what she did with Syria. Look at Egypt, what happened with Egypt, a total mess. She was truly -- if not the -- one of the worst secretaries of state in the history of the country. She talks about me being dangerous. She's killed hundreds of thousands of people with her stupidity."
Trump is absolutely right. Hillary voted for the invasion of Iraq, which killed a million people. As I've pointed out, it wasn't just an immoral decision -- it was a stupid one, since anyone with a half a brain could see at the time that Saddam probably didn't have WMDs, and that Bush's war would be a disaster.
As secretary of state, Clinton never met a war she didn't love. Under her watch and following her counsel, the United States armed radical jihadis who are now terrorists, helped topple Moammar Gaddafi, expanded a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of Libyans and reduced one of the most advanced nations in Africa into a failed state. Then she turned around and did the same exact thing to Syria.
Let Clinton's supporters take offense. How is unfair, wrong or intemperate to call out a foreign policy record that fits the dictionary definition of "stupid" -- doing the same thing over and over, even though it never works? Stupid is as stupid does. Hillary is stupid, especially on foreign policy, and Trump is right to say so.
Winner or loser, Trump has done political debate in America a huge favor by freeing "stupid" from the rhetorical prison of words and phrases polite people aren't allowed to use.
Interestingly, stupid people aren't all losers and losers aren't always stupid in Trumpworld. Hillary Clinton has one hell of a resume, which she has parlayed into a big pile of cash. She is, by Trump standards, a winner (albeit a stupid one). If I met Trump, I'd ask him if a smart person can be a loser (possible example: He called the obviously smart Russell Brand a loser).
Pre-Trump, American politics and culture suffered from a lack of stupid-calling. I am serious.
"There has been a long tradition of anti-intellectualism in America, unlike most other Western countries," Ray Williams wrote last year in Psychology Today. Insults reflect a society's values. Americans value macho masculinity, good looks and youth, so our top slurs accuse their victims of being effeminate, weak, ugly, fat, old and outdated. In France, where the life of the mind is prized so much that one of the nation's top-rated TV shows featured philosophers and auteurs discussing politics and culture over cigarettes, there are few things worse than being called stupid and having it stick. A society that ranks "stupid" as of its worst insults lets it be known that being smart is at least as important as being tough or hot or buff.
So, Donald Trump, thanks for dropping those S-bombs.
But I'm not voting for you.
Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for ANewDomain.net and SkewedNews.net, is the author of "Snowden," about the NSA whistleblower. His new book "Bernie" about Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, comes out Jan. 12 and is available for pre-order. Want to support independent journalism? You can subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.
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