Friday, August 4, 2017

"The greatest man in the world."

     Did Donald Trump really say that?
     Now at this point, you would think nothing, absolutely nothing Donald Trump could say could be surprising. No lie too bald. No exaggeration too extreme. He could claim to be the Lord God Almighty and really, who could say it was out of character, for him?
    But reading transcripts of his late January calls to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, one phrase just leapt out:
     “I am the world’s greatest person."
     Now I know he thinks that. Obviously. Grandiosity and insecurity taking turns slamming him, and us, to the mat like tag-team wrestlers. I know everything he touches is great, if not the greatest.

    So yes, of course he said it.
    Still....
    Maybe it could be mitigated. In the context, the full statement is, "“I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country."
     So maybe he means among those who do not want to let people into the country, he's the greatest. The best of a smaller subset.

     Though that's being charitable, and Trump really is not worthy of charity. What he means is, "I'm the greatest person in the world, and this person of greatness who is me does not want to let people in the country."
     That's kind of the opposite of greatness, don't you think? Which is another characteristic: take things you are being criticized for failing to do and claim to be the best at them. He's like R. Kelly claiming to be the best baby-sitter.
     No questions about that "does-not-want-to-let-people-in-the-country" part. Wednesday he came out swinging for legislation that would cut legal immigration to the United States in half over the next decade—putting the lie to all those who claim their only qualm with immigration is its illegality. He spoke in the loathsome, cowardly codes of identity politics, though at least Trump did not use the word "cosmopolitan," a buzz word for Jews, which his hater lackey Stephen Miller tossed out at a press conference Wednesday (despite the fact that Miller is from both Jewish and immigrant lineage, a reminder that anyone can go off the rails).

     There is a wonderful James Thurber story called "The Greatest Man in the World" that is basically a satire based on Charles Lindbergh, who flew the Atlantic in 1927 and became an enormous celebrity. That he was a hero's image, modest, handsome, self-effacing, was a lucky coincidence. But what if he hadn't been? In the 1931 story, Thurber imagines Jacky "Pal" Smurch, whose non-stop round-the-world flight thrusts him int the spotlight, before a timely defenestration sets up his solemn state funeral.
    I'm not the first to relate Trump to the Thurber story; looking for the tale online, I came upon Patt Morrison at the LA Times thoroughly exploring the Trump/Smurch connection two years ago. 
    Alas, the sense of civic responsibility that led officials, in the presence of the president, to push Smurch out a window has left us entirely. Now Jacky Smurch is the president, and there is nobody to save us from the greatest man in the world. 

17 comments:

  1. I loathe that man but I honestly think he was trying to say "There's no one in the world that wants to keep out immigrants more than me, I'm like the best at hating immigrants ".

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  2. how can anyone really know what he means by what he says? most of the time the order in which he places words is puzzling and difficult to decipher . when he does seem to clearly state a position such as that law enforcement should not treat prisoners in custody gently they say he was joking. he doesnt seem smart enough to be intentionally using language to confuse and distract the , citizens, press and opposition. but he did manage to get himself elected and strangely even NYT commenters have begun praising him recently. re: CIA end covert program in Syria. you may be right Neil we may be stuck with this clown for two terms. he certainly isnt the only one who sees himself as "the greatest person"

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    1. That's sad but true. But never mistake his occasionally managing to do or say something not as awful as what he usually does or says, or someone legitimate haltingly acknowledging that, for meaning anything other than he's still the most godawful president ever elected, and a true menace to our country and democracy. That never changes.

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    2. Love Thurber's line, "I hope he drowns," that Smurch's mother says about his round-the-world expedition. Don't know that Trump's mother would have said such a thing, but she did send him to military school at a fairly tender age.

      john

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    3. If you have a dog who makes a yowling noise that sounds vaguely like "hello", everyone ooos and aahs and your dog gets to go on "stupid pet tricks" and you get to bask in the glow of accidental celebrity because you brought this unexpected, unbelievable, incredibly marvelous incident to the attention of the world! If Letterman we're still on the air, would he invite Trump?

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    4. That's a funny idea - stupid president tricks. It could include Trump saying things that vaguely resemble sentences. Or has it already been done?

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    5. We've been watching it in "real time".

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    6. I'm still waiting for him to say anything in a thing that vaguely resembles a sentence.

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  3. NS: What building is that in the photo above?

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  4. There's also a touch of Walter Mitty in Trump's pleading with the Australian PM to help validate his status as world's champion immigrant hater.

    Tom

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  5. at least Trump did not use the word "cosmopolitan," a buzz word for Jews

    I thought the current buzzword for Jews was "globalists." It's so hard to keep up.

    As for what Trump said to Australia's PM, the most charitable interpretation is that he was trying to say he's chief of state of the world's greatest nation, and the fact that he's trying to keep people out of that nation means the rest of the world should follow his example. Squeezed through the warped filter of Trump's ego, it came out as a statement about himself.

    OK, maybe that's far-fetched. But AFAIK there's no Rosetta Stone for translating Trumpish to English.

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  6. I gotta agree with the first Anon comment. When I read it, I just thought he was saying, "Nobody, but nobody hates immigrants more than me" in his usual self-aggrandizing manner.

    That photo accompanying this post is simply marvelous!

    Another photo option might have been the Wizard of Oz struggling with his curtain. Then you've got Kellyanne vying with Ann Coulter for wicked witch honors, Paul Ryan as the heartless Tinman, McConnell wouldn't even need makeup for Cowardly Lion, though you could pick half the Congress for that role or the Scarecrow, as brains certainly aren't the hallmark of the current Republican party, either...

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  7. I caught that 'cosmopolitan' crap out of Miller & was amazed he said that, since it's the Russians who started using 'cosmopolitan' to refer to Jews.
    And take a good look at Miller, he sure resembles Putin, doesn't he?
    Maybe he's Putin's secret son & he's the one sent to be Trump's GRU controller.

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    1. Isn't Miler Jewish? I'm pretty sure he is which I find just embarrassing.

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    2. Well, he grew up Jewish. Obviously, the finer points of what it means to be a Jew didn't stick.

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  8. Well said, Neil. Trump couldn't grasp Turnbull's point that Australia does not accept refugees who arrive by boat because to do so would encourage human smuggling and result in tragedies. Trump kept calling the 1250 detainees prisoners and bad people. Dumb or evil or both?

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