WHAT’S IN A NICKNAME?
By Peter David
What’s in a nickname?
Presidential eras are oftentimes defined by their nicknames.
Probably the most memorable one, off the top of my head, is that of John F. Kennedy. After JFK was assassinated, his widow, Jackie Kennedy, commented in a Life magazine interview that he was particularly enamored of the then-current Broadway musical, “Camelot.” Considering it was about a failed kingship that sank under the weight of a sex scandal, it was a rather odd comparison to make. But it was the early sixties, the country was in mourning, and what the hell, it was Richard Burton and Julie Andrews, so one kind of has to let it slide.
Richard Nixon was routinely referred to as Tricky Dick, which was not exactly flattering. Ronald Reagan’s reign was the years of the Gipper, a character that we were encouraged to win one for in “Knute Rockne, All American.” Harry S. Truman was widely regarded as “Give ‘em Hell Harry.” Nicknames, as stated, define a presidency. They tell you what it was about, how the president was regarded, what was expected of him.
But we don’t really have a consistent nickname for Donald Trump yet. Yes, some refer to him as Teflon Don, but that was really the nickname for John Gotti. It would certainly seem to apply considering the vast number of charges that just slide off him, but it just doesn’t seem right to tag him with someone else’s nickname. Many call him Cadet Bonespurs to celebrate his specious excuse for avoiding the Vietnam draft. You remember the Vietnam war: the conflict that military men who risked their lives to serve in and were subsequently dismissed by Trump as being infants and cry babies. Yet the bonespurs business occurred decades before the Electoral College placed him in the Oval Office (I find it easier to say that then “he was elected.”)
No, I think we need something that is more appropriate to his tenure, something that relates directly to his opinions and his methodology. And his current conduct regarding the Coronavirus pretty much, I think, seals the deal.
I believe we should refer to Trump’s years in the White House as the Hoax Presidency.
It makes eminent sense. Trump, during his patchy speech from the Oval Office on Wednesday, the reaction to which was best summarized by the man himself—“Ooookay”—claimed that partisan interests need to be put aside. Yet barely a week ago he was claiming that the Democratic reaction to it, and their concerns that he was botching the handling of it which most experts agree he definitely was, was a hoax. (This was a theory popularized has currently seized by Rush Limbaugh, the man who singlehandedly devalued the Presidential Medal of Honor through the act of receiving it). Up until now, all the serious work in trying to contain the coronavirus has been handled at the state level, while Joe Biden makes the kind of speech that we’d want to see a president making. Meanwhile Trump was resisting declaring a national emergency because it ran counter to his dismissive attitude that the virus was merely a temporary thing, being amplified by the evil media and distorted by the Democrats. Today, finally, he did indeed declare a national emergency, opening up funds to be used by the states in their efforts to combat it (although I assume that states which included sanctuary cities will be lowest on the list of priorities. At least Trump has given up on the nonsense that when the temperatures increase in the spring, because viruses die in warm temperatures. Which is true: temperatures in excess of 250 degrees Fahrenheit. So when April rolls around, if temperatures increase by two hundred degrees, yes, the virus will die. Of course, so will humanity, but everything has a price. Meanwhile Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, can attest to the fact that it’s nonsense since they are currently down with the disease in Australia where they’re already enjoying spring weather. And it’s lucky Hanks and Wilson were there, because if they were in the US there’s every chance they wouldn’t have had access to a test and could be infecting Hollywood right now.
Then again, according to Trump, climate change is also a hoax. A Chinese hoax. So that would be two Chinese hoaxes in three years. Perhaps hoaxes are their new biggest export.
And the impeachment was also a hoax. That’s one of his favorites: the impeachment, which proved indisputably that Trump did exactly what he was accused of, was a hoax. And the Robert Mueller report, which resulted in the indictment of thirty-four individuals and guilty verdicts or pleas from eight people, including five Trump associates, was a hoax. And all the negative coverage by fake media outlets such as The Washington Post, The New York Times and CNN, all hoaxes.
Let’s face it, if P.T. Barnum were still alive, he would be standing there and applauding in admiration at the vast array of hoaxes that Trump has been able to spot from his Fox & Friends bubble in the White House. Of course, when Fox was trashing Barack Obama over the spread of Ebola, Trump had no dispute about that. But when the press reports that the Democrats want to spend more money on combating the Coronavirus than Trump was asking for, and comment about how his budget desires to slash funding for the CDC, why, that’s all a hoax. The press can’t be trusted. The Democrats can’t be trusted. Only Trump, who has lied by one count over sixteen thousand times in the past three years, can be trusted.
It’s really kind of a shame, because the Coronavirus is actually Trump’s chance to prove that he cares about something other than his reelection. He could have reached across the aisle, said that people’s lives matter more than anything, taken the lead, stepped up, and tried to get the job done.
Instead he dismisses it and yells hoax.
I’ve heard people say that if they ever get the Coronavirus, they won’t go to a hospital. Instead they will attend as many Trump rallies as they can. To spread the hoax virus Trumpies and perhaps even ideally to the man himself. That’s where Trump’s incessant cries of “hoax” have gotten us.
So I think we should permanently associate the word “hoax” with Trump’s presidency so that when future generations look back on what the hell has been going on in this country and say, “What was that Trump presidency all about?” we can smile and just say, “It was all a hoax.”