The Chimps were alarmed, aghast, and even dumbfounded when Democratic pols all started singing from the same hymnal before the November election, chirping with all the machismo of an effete glee club that this Donald Trump – why, he is just such a bully! What a bully he is! That big bully, that brut!
Oh God, the Chimps thought, here we go again. Trump (like all Republicans for a couple of generations) is playing to the drooling, mindless, blockhead crowd, and Democrats, being Democrats, are playing right into his hands. And nowadays, as Trump cozies up to Vladimir Putin, this trope is gaining traction anew: these two “world leaders,” we are told, are simpatico because they are both bullies.
One supposes that this tag – bully – is meant to be an insult. Let’s think about that.
At the risk of over-intellectualizing this, we start with Merriam Webster’s definition of bully: “a blustering browbeating person; especially: one habitually cruel to others who are weaker.” If there is any part of that description that would offend rather than flatter Donald Trump (or his BFF Vlad, for that matter), it’s news to the Chimps. Blustering browbeater? Why thank you, Trump would say. Habitually cruel? If that were the epitaph inscribed on Trump’s tombstone, he’d waltz into the hereafter as the hap-hap-happiest goddamn ghoul since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye.
And that last part is precious: “to others who are weaker.” Ah yes: to call Donald Trump a bully is to say that the person he targets – and that could be anybody on any given day – is weaker than him. Because that’s what bullies do – they pick on people who are weaker.
In other words, when we say that somebody is a bully, we tacitly acknowledge that they are strong. Sure, they’re strong in a way that we find to be offensive and even illusory, but what does a buffoon like Donald Trump care about such nuance? Yes, he’s a bully, and he’s proud of it. And you know who else is proud of it? All Trump’s voters. You know — the ones Democrats need if they want to start sweeping elections. Those voters like bullies, especially any bully who they perceive to be on their side.
Democrats and Democratic strategists are fools with their messaging and their word choices and their issue framing. To beg Donald Trump to stop bullying them is to make him exactly what he wants to be: the brutish overlord at whose mercy all mankind now finds itself.
The Chimps like to tag the bad guys with other descriptors – you know, words they do not like being called. And you know what Donald Trump really is – and what he would not like to be called? A punk. The same messaging would apply even in middle school. Telling an eighth-grade goon to stop being such a bully is just so much idle clack. Tell the goon to stop being a punk and you might at least have his attention.
Let’s get our messaging straight, progressives. Spread the word; make sure your favorite pol gets the memo. Donald Trump is not a bully; he’s a punk. Just like his BFF Vlad.