Donald Trump explains his rude and crude pronunciamentos (or does one mean pronunciamenti?) as a valuable response to the excess of political correctness in our culture.
My understanding of “political correctness” is avoiding saying important, true things, that need to be said, for fear of offending certain groups, especially feminists or ethnic minorities.
But Trump’s rebellion against political correctness isn’t about saying things that are true and need to be said. In Trump’s version, you just say something that insults someone whom you feel like insulting, or whom it is in your interest to insult, without caring whether the insult is based in fact. Kind of like Archie Bunker calling his wife a “dingbat” or his son-in-law a “meathead.”
People seemed to like Archie Bunker, enough to make “All In the Family” a huge hit in the70s, and they seem to like Trump’s version, enough to make him the front-runner in the 17-candidate Republican presidential field.
It says here that Trump should be held to a higher standard than a fictional character from a sitcom (unless future developments reveal that he is such a character).
So when Trump says, on “Meet the Press” yesterday, for example that Hillary Clinton ranks as “the worst secretary of state in the history of our country,” because “during her reign the entire world fell apart,” Mr. Trump should be expected to have some backup for such a statement, some indication that he was familiar with the other contenders for the title of “worst secretary of state” and could explain why she is the title-winner, and the explanation should be perhaps be a little more fact-and-insight based than just repeating the insult in a louder voice.
But when he made the comment to “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd, and Todd briefly challenged him to explain the history of terrible secretaries of state and how and why Clinton wins the “worst ever” title, Trump had nothing. He was unable to come up with the names of any secretaries of state who had preceded Clinton. Trump did indicate who he believes is “the worst secretary of state after her.” It’s John Kerry who, one might point out, is certainly the worst secretary since Clinton and also the best since Clinton by virtue of being the only secretary of state since Clinton.
Here’s the transcript of that portion of the Trump/Todd exchange, as aired on yesterday’s “Meet the Press,” lightly edited for flow. (The lead-in, just for context, is that Todd asked Trump about his previous relations with the Clinton’s, whom he used to support, and about a phone call he got from Bill Clinton shortly before Trump declared his candidacy.)
DONALD TRUMP: First of all, nobody’s been tougher on Hillary Clinton than me. And when Bill Clinton called me, I had already made up my decision. You know, just so you understand, he called me long after I had made a decision and everyone knew I was running. So it wasn’t like that. And I think he’s very disappointed that I’m running. Because I’m the one person that’s going to beat her.
Now, I think she may not be able to run to be honest because this whole email thing is a horrible thing. General Petraeus, his life has been destroyed. And he did 5% of what she did. So assuming she’s able to run, which would be absolutely to me a miracle at this point, I will beat her. And I don’t see the other people that are running against me currently winning–
CHUCK TODD: You regularly call her the worst secretary of state.
DONALD TRUMP: I think she’s the worst secretary of State in the history of our country. Look at happened during her reign–
CHUCK TODD: Well, it begs the question. I’m a history buff. Who was the worst before her then in your mind?
DONALD TRUMP: Well, I’ll tell you who was the worst after her. Kerry because of what–
CHUCK TODD: Who do you believe was the worst before her–
DONALD TRUMP: I don’t want to get into names. I don’t know. I’m insulting so many people. I don’t want to insult people. I want to be nice to people–
CHUCK TODD: I understand that. But it goes to this larger– everything with you is the best or the worst. There’s no nuance.
DONALD TRUMP: Chuck, during her reign– the entire world fell apart. It fell apart. During her reign, the entire– look what happened. Everything fell apart.
CHUCK TODD: So the Arab Spring is on her? Is that a fair–
DONALD TRUMP: Well, I think you– -you could sort of– I mean, you could sort of say maybe a little bit, right? I mean, sort of, right?
CHUCK TODD: That’s a big charge–
DONALD TRUMP: But look at Kerry. Now, Kerry may top her.
The transcript of the entire program is available here.