Not at this rate. He has a better chance of being voted Mr. Conviviality by the 16 Republicans he vanquished en route to becoming the presumptive nominee of the GOP than slandering his way to power.
Whatever his prowess as a negotiator, Trump is a chump in the art of the put-down.
Lyin’ Ted? Come on. Canadians coined “Lyin’ Brian” back in the 1980s. (Personally, I preferred Chin-Occhio.)
Little Marco, Crooked Hillary, and now Goofy Elizabeth? Not much imagination operating there, any more than there was in this country with Angry Tom and before that Taliban Jack – just a pejorative adjective affixed to a target’s name. Third graders do better in the schoolyard. And former House Speaker John Boehner did much better with his diss of Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh.”
Yet Trump keeps the puerile taunts coming. “Ugly” Carly Fiorina and Rosie O’Donnell; “dumb” Rick Perry; “rape-bent” Mexican immigrants; and a host of “losers” too numerous to list, including senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. All are apparently lesser mortals than the great man, who by the way, looks somewhat like a rat as one of his adversaries observed along the way.
Given his limited language skills, Trump launches his tiny tantrums on Twitter at his peril. After dissing Elizabeth Warren as goofy, the Bronx Bully was skewered by a Tweet from the Massachusetts senator: She reminded Trump that he had more support in the Ku Klux Klan than he did in his own party. His taunts, she tweeted, were lame. Both ears and tail to the lady, or as they say in the bullfight world “los maximos trofeos”.
Still, Trump is on to something. Whether in politics, show-biz, or literature, stinging opponents, competitors, enemies and even former spouses with pointed words can be devastating. But to do it effectively, you need something Donald hasn’t so far exhibited; a grasp of the complex linguistic components of the diss.
Like Madonna exhibited when she mixed insolence and mockery to give Elton John some advice about shedding weight:
“The easiest way for you to lose 10 pounds now is just to take off your wig.”
And who can forget Woody Allen’s immortal put down of a former wife at the end of their marriage:
“The only time my wife and I had a simultaneous orgasm was when the judge signed the the divorce papers.”
Or writer Norah Ephron’s remarks on her philandering husband, words that Donald Trump might yet use against Bill Clinton in the coming insult-fest otherwise known as the U.S. Presidential race:
“He’d have sex with a Venetian blind.”
There are plenty of ways for Trump to go to school on the art of sass. Like this remark from from U.S. President Gerald Ford on Ronald Reagan:
“He doesn’t dye his hair, he’s just prematurely orange.”
Ronald Reagan put downs, usually focusing on the belief that he had more ear-wax than brains, could be a wonderful inspiration for the Donald. Remember, prime minister Margaret Thatcher once said of Reagan, “Poor dear, there’s nothing between his ears.” Consider this quip from New Zealand politician Jonathon Hunt about the president who once wondered why the United States should subsidize intellectual curiosity.
“In a disastrous fire in Ronald Reagan’s library, both books were destroyed. But the real tragedy is that he hadn’t finished coloring one of them.”
Sometimes even the most unlikely source can provide a key lesson in the art of the put down. Donald should take heart from the fact that even Senator Bob Dole, who normally exuded all the charisma of a hibernating turtle, could win a chuckle with a witticism:
“History buffs probably noted the reunion at a Washington party a few weeks ago of three ex-presidents – Carter, Ford, and Nixon. See no evil, hear no evil, and Evil.”
There are also some excellent pointers from outside the country on how to skewer your political opponents. Consider this declaration from former London mayor Ken Livingstone:
“I’ve met serial killers, and assassins, but nobody scares me as much as Mrs. Thatcher.”
Sir Nicholas Fairbairn also gave a good jolt to another former prime minister, John Major:
“He was more a ventriloquist’s dummy than a Prime Minister.”
Or this one from the British House of Commons where MP Tony Banks described fellow MP Terry Dicks like this:
“The Honorable Member is living proof that a pig’s bladder on a stick can be elected to Parliament.”
And then there is the other former London Mayor Boris Johnson. After he was mocked by the Terminator for his speaking style, Johnson had a ready reply:
“My speaking style was criticized by no less an authority than Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was a low moment my friends, to have my rhetorical skills denounced by a monosyllabic Austrian cyborg.”
This put down came from the same politician who told Britons that their wives would develop bigger breasts and their chances of owning a BMW M3 would increase if they voted Tory. Which in its turn provided another lesson for the Donald on how to do a proper diss, this time from Johnson critic Ian Hislop:
“People always ask me the same question, they say, ‘Is Boris a very, very clever man pretending to be an idiot?’ And I always say, no.”
Sometimes historical context can wonderfully deflate the planet’s high and mighty – even self-proclaimed world-beaters like Donald Trump. Reflect on comedian Bill Maher’s words about George W. Bush:
“On your watch, we’ve lost almost all our allies, the surplus, four airliners, a piece of the Pentagon, and the city of New Orleans…So yes, God may speak to you and what he’s saying is ‘Take the hint.'”
Donald Trump’s idea of insults is like the last call at the Blue Goose Lounge; a triumph of too much beer over too little reading. In other words, he provides an opening for his critics. But his detractors are even worse at slinging high-grade mud than he is. I suggest the sultan of slur, Mr. Shakespeare himself, as the best place where they could elevate their insult game in time for November.
After all, what is “Lying Ted” compared to “mad mustachio, purple-hued, maltworm,” or “wimpled, weather-beaten barnacle”. Any flap-eared knave would see the improvement.
And if the classics aren’t your thing, you could also copy just plain Josh, who responded to a post about the lame insults hurled at Trump with one of his own.
“Donald Trump looks like the villain in a movie where the hero is a dog.”
Not poetry, but it beats the hell out of the Trump mantra of fat, ugly and stupid.
Author: Michael Harris