Donald Trump likes to call people ‘stupid’ and/or ‘loser’. Obviously, it’s juvenile, but the Republican primary voters are into it. They like Trump’s short declarative sentences - the secret sauce of which is name-calling.
Trump’s name-calling, so loud and so short on specifics, drives the establishment of political writers who dominate corporate media crazy. I suspect this is because it does not 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.
I’m not at all into the ‘loser’ thing though. Consider the source: it’s hard not to win when you inherit a fortune from your dad. Competition does more harm than good, especially the way we do it here in America.
Consider athletics: everyone who does not win a gold medal or get ranked first in his/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 corruption, nepotism and bad taste.
There is, on the other hand, something wonderfully refreshing about Trump’s gleeful deployment of the S-word.
“She is the one that caused 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 have pointed out, it was not just an immoral decision - it was a stupid one, since anyone with a half a brain could see at the time that Saddam probably did not have WMDs, and that Bush’s war would be a disaster.
As secretary of state, Clinton never met a war she did not love. Under her watch and following her counsel, the US-armed radical jihadis who are now terrorists, helped topple Muammar 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 Hillary’s supporters take offense. How is it 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 favour by freeing ‘stupid’ from the rhetorical prison of words and phrases polite people are not allowed to use.
Interestingly, stupid people are not all losers and losers are not 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).
“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, hot or buff.
So, Donald Trump, thanks for dropping those S-bombs. But I’m not voting for you.
This article has been excerpted from ‘In defense of Trump’s name-calling.’