As I last posted, this week former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush plus Senator John McCain delivered speeches in which they warned America about drifting from our historic moorings as a truly democratic nation that has done much good in the world. These obviously were critiques against the selfish nationalism of the politically far-right that has been adopted by President Donald Trump and his former chief political strategist Stephen Bannon without naming either of them. (See my previous post on January 26, “Do President Donald Trump and Steve Bannon Believe in our Democracy?“).
President Trump shot back in a radio interview, “People have to be careful, because at some point, I fight back. I’m being nice. I’m being very, very nice. But at some point, I fight back, and it won’t be pretty.”
How will Trump fight back? He doesn’t even read books. I think that is absolutely astounding, that a man in this day and age could become president of the USA and not read books, except maybe his own. Trump has responded to being questioned about this by saying he doesn’t have time to read books. Oh yeah! Then how does he have all that time to play golf? When he campaigned for the U.S. presidency last year, Donald Trump criticized President Barack Obama for playing too much golf while president. Trump then said if he was elected president, he wouldn’t do that and would work hard for the American people, as if President Obama wasn’t working hard enough for us.
Well, guess what! So far, Trump has been playing more golf since he became U.S. president than Obama did while he was president. It’s just one of many examples in which The Donald proves himself to be someone whose word cannot be trusted.
When John McCain was told that President Trump made that threat to him and especially George W. Bush because of their speeches this week, McCain–the Vietnam War hero who was shot down in action while flying a Navy airplane, and then suffered as a POW for 5.5 years–replied to President Trump, “I have faced tougher adversaries.”
Donald Trump would have no chance in a war of words against an articulate, cogent communicator. It’s partly because he has a poor vocabulary. You can’t have a good vocabulary if you don’t read lots of sophisticated, non-fiction books. Just notice how many times Donald Trump says the same words over and over again, and words that are low on the totem pole for their sophistication. And he constantly makes superlative statements about subjects he knows little or nothing about which often are way off the mark of truthfulness. Then, of course, there is his constantly downright lying.
Spiro Agnew was a WWII Bronze Star hero who fought at the Battle of the Bulge. He afterwards became a lawyer and then the governor of Maryland. After that, Agnew became President Richard Nixon’s vice president. Nixon often called upon the rhetorical Spiro to lob some spiral curve balls in speeches against Nixon foes. It’s because Mr. Agnew gained a reputation for successfully defeating the opposition in argument. If Chuck Colson was Nixon’s hatchet man, Spiro Agnew was his sumarai swordsman. Agnew had some choice expressions that are well remembered, such as his calling elite intellectuals “supercilious sophisticates.” And he also castigated some political rivals as “the nattering nabobs of negativism.”
Since Trump likes to play golf, I’ll use a golf metaphor. In debate, Spiro Agnew would have demolished Trump in an 18 hole matchplay argument “ten down with eight holes to play.” That is, Agnew would have won every hole until Trump was closed out.
PS: But I’ll give it to The Donald that he is a good golfer, much better than Spiro Agnew was. One year I watched Vice President Spiro Agnew tee off with Bob Hope on the par four first hole at the PGA Tour’s Bob Hope Desert Classic in Palm Springs, California. He crunched a nabob, or was it a nabomb? It was some sort of shank with a wood club (which is just about impossible) that could have injured someone in the large gallery lining the fairway. If he wasn’t too embarrassed, I’m sure Mr. Agnew–who later pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion and then went into seclusion the rest of his life, dying in 1996–would have had some choice words for that rather unsophisticated shot. If not, the master comedian Bob Hope surely did.