Attacks on Donald Trump have been fast and furious, but some appeared to be so cheap, ridiculous or hurtful that the man himself was too embarrassed to list in his "fake news awards." Are any of them credible? You be the judge.
‘Donald Trump is illiterate’
While previously thrown around as a vague insult, this notion has stuck, with such impartial president-watchers as Joe Scarborough and Michael Wolff listing incidents of
Trump’s reluctance to talk about reading and claims by unnamed White House insiders that the president is “no more than semi-literate.”
“Resistance” on the idea, and started meticulously picking apart “evidence” in Trump’s body language and behavior to reinforce the idea that his reading skills are rudimentary.
There is a basic implausibility of a silver-spoon heir going from an elite military school; to an MBA; to concluding billion-dollar-deals; to signing acts as the president; without knowing what is written, but perhaps that would fit in with an image of Trump as a maverick savant.
Just thinking more day-to-day... Could Trump send his uncensored and eccentrically-spelt tweets without knowing how to read? Would an illiterate person even know how Twitter works? Would he bother to attack the “failing” New York Times?
Trump often has to deliver lengthy speeches, whose contents are known in advance. To assume that he can memorize them perfectly without notes hours in advance would really make him a “stable genius” of the oral tradition.
Now, whether Trump is a lazy reader or dyslexic are more relevant – if presumptuous – concerns, but less interesting for a five-minute TV slot.
‘Donald Trump is textbook generic sex pensioner/watersports-loving sex fiend’
Trying to nail the thrice-married serial cheater, who was elected despite epic prior coverage of his ‘locker-room talk’ audio, on grounds of morality, is harder than it looks. Here, the media has either overshot or undershot the public revulsion target. The Christopher Steele dossier image of Trump marshalling compliant Russian prostitutes to defile the bed Barack Obama had slept on was too lurid, cartoonish and cheaply satirical.
Meanwhile, the much-touted Stormy Daniels revelations of Trump as a “one-position” superannuated gallant, “obsessively” watching Shark Week in his hotel room and complimenting the porn star with awkward comparisons to his daughter, came off more tame and pathetic than explosive. The fact, that in the context of the #MeToo campaign, professing that women had to be believed, Daniels’ denials of the story – whether or not paid for with hush money – were batted away for the sake of attacking a political opponent, also flavored the affair with an aftertaste of hypocrisy.
‘Melania hates Donald, and is a hostage in the White House’
She won’t move from New York, she doesn’t want to hold his hand, she keeps a separate bedroom from the president in the White House – speculation about marital strife has provided air support for every accusation of Trump’s infidelity and overall insufferability.
All this may well be true, but there is one problem – Melania remains mum. In the absence of personal disclosure, the media has made a skin-flaying pivot from portraying the First Lady as an Eastern European Robo-Ice Queen on the make, to Bluebeard’s wife. But after years of snooty jibes and unfavorable comparisons, the new-found concern for Melania, who has never been coy about her attraction to Trump’s status and wealth, seems a touch insincere. Why didn’t anyone warn her before?
‘Donald Trump is suffering from a degenerative neurological condition’
The occupant of the White House disintegrating in full public view would create unprecedented upheaval and embarrassment, and it is imperative that such a scenario must be stopped, or at least prevented, if it appears likely in 2020 and beyond.
There is valid, if likely inconsequential research to be done from afar for example, comparing the deterioration of Trump’s vocabulary over the past several decades, and whether it is likely to prevent him from performing his job well over dozens of other counter-indications for presidency.
But the way the anti-Trump media brigade has gone about this has been petty, scientifically illiterate and stigmatizing. Opponents have repeatedly jumped on isolated incidents – holding a glass with two hands, the “slurring” during that Jerusalem speech – and mixed up psychiatric and neurological diagnoses, making the whole enterprise seem more like 25th Amendment-targeting political point-scoring than ethics-guided research about a man allegedly in the grasp of devastating conditions. For someone with a supposedly loosening grip on reality, Trump managed to astutely neutralize the narrative, when he reportedly volunteered to take the Montreal Cognitive Assessment and achieved a perfect score, which of course, then led to the next line of attack.
Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson tended to George W. Bush, and was the personal physician of Barack Obama, before continuing in the same post for Donald Trump. Which is the exact background for a man that would then subtract several pounds from the current president’s weight so that he would be classified as “overweight” and not “obese.”
Whatever their cathartic properties, Trump's critics are their least appealing when they mock the color of his skin, give a blow-by-blow description of his scalp surgery, or repeat innuendo about the size of his hands – behaviors they would condemn in almost every other context.
Also, if you let the hate flow through you, do not also pretend that you are humbly serving the cause of truth, as the New Yorker did earlier this month claiming that “the allure of girtherism isn’t simply the prospect of an easy joke… But the idea that, in seizing upon the plain facts about his body, we might somehow force the President an inch or two closer to the truth.”
‘Trump is afraid of stairs’
If you can successfully accuse Trump of this, you can accuse him of anything.
There are several hundred separate videos and photos of the US president both ascending and descending staircases of various widths, inclines, and materials, unsupported, holding on to the railings, holding on to Theresa May. Not a single named source has ever alleged this fear, yet now there are numerous articles containing the words “Trump” and “bathmophobia” (don’t worry they had to look it up too, before writing them).
In any case, what is that story even trying to say? Why would Trump be afraid of stairs? A psychological condition? Poor balance? Vanity? Wooden leg? Just fill in the blanks, it doesn’t matter, because it’s made up anyway.
Even in the above catalogue of inanity, it is hard to imagine a more textbook example of Donald Trump’s detractors providing endless distraction from substantive issues, and perfect ammunition to be shot down as irrelevant purveyors of falsehoods.
Igor Ogorodnev for Eyes On Events