Trump the Sorest of Losers

Trump holds a rally with supporters at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Michigan, U.S.
Trump, a self-avowed winner, is the sorest of losers

W.J. Astore

Are there too many articles about Donald Trump?  You might say yes, until, that is, you realize the man has a fair shot at being America’s next president.  With that disaster in the making, one must speak up, which is what Tom Engelhardt has done at TomDispatch.com.  Engelhardt shows us what Trump is all about – and what that reveals about the present American moment.

Here’s a telling sample from Engelhardt’s latest:

He’s made veiled assassination threats; lauded the desire to punch someone in the face; talked about shooting “somebody” in “the middle of Fifth Avenue”; defended the size of his hands and his you-know-what; retweeted neo-Nazis and a quote from Mussolini; denounced the outsourcing of American manufacturing jobs and products while outsourcing his own jobs and products; excoriated immigrants and foreign labor while hiring the same; advertised the Trump brand in every way imaginable; had a bromance with Vladimir Putin; threatened to let nuclear weapons proliferate; complained bitterly about a rigged election, rigged debates, a rigged moderator, and a rigged microphone; swore that he and he alone was capable of again making America, and so the world, a place of the sort of greatness only he himself could match, and that’s just to begin a list on the subject of The Donald.

Engelhardt highlights an aspect of Trump that more Americans need to see: Trump the Sore Loser.  Consider his first debate with Hillary Clinton.  Instead of taking personal responsibility (“I had a bad night, but I’ll win the next one”), Trump blamed everyone else and anything else.  The election’s rigged.  The media’s against me.  My mic was bad.  And so on.  Everyone’s accountable except himself.

In his sore losership, Trump is much like America.  One example: It took (some of) us nearly fifty years to get over defeat in the Vietnam War.  In fact, many U.S. “experts” still aren’t over it, arguing that America really won that war (like Trump argued he’d won the debate with Hillary at subsequent rallies), or alternatively that the war was “rigged,” i.e. that American troops were winning until they were stabbed in the back, betrayed by a hostile and biased media and pusillanimous and disloyal civilian leaders.  Really?

Here’s another telling excerpt from Engelhardt on Trump:

In relation to his Republican rivals, and now Hillary Clinton, he stands alone in accepting and highlighting what increasing numbers of Americans, especially white Americans, have evidently come to feel: that this country is in decline, its greatness a thing of the past, or as pollsters like to put it, that America is no longer “heading in the right direction” but is now “on the wrong track.”  In this way, he has mainlined into a deep, economically induced mindset, especially among white working class men facing a situation in which so many good jobs have headed elsewhere, that the world has turned sour.

Or think of it another way (and it may be the newest way of all): a significant part of the white working class, at least, feels as if, whether economically or psychologically, its back is up against the wall and there’s nowhere left to go.  Under such circumstances, many of these voters have evidently decided that they’re ready to send a literal loose cannon into the White House; they’re willing, that is, to take a chance on the roof collapsing, even if it collapses on them.

That is the new and unrecognizable role that Donald Trump has filled.  It’s hard to conjure up another example of it in our recent past. The Donald represents, as a friend of mine likes to say, the suicide bomber in us all. And voting for him, among other things, will be an act of nihilism, a mood that fits well with imperial decline.

Trump, in other words, embodies the resentment of Americans who are used to seeing themselves (and their country) as winners, but who now recognize, at least on some level, they are no longer winners – that they may be, horror of horrors, losers.  And, much like Trump, they are sore about this – but not sore (or honest) enough to look in the mirror.  No – far better to cast about for scapegoats, to shift the blame, to avoid taking any personal responsibility.

Trump is the Sore Loser of sore losers.  His (possibly winning?) appeal is to tell certain Americans exactly what they want to hear: That it’s not your fault that you’re losing.  No – it’s the fault of others.  Mexicans.  Muslims.  China.  Pushy women.  The liberal media.  You name it.

Trump, as Engelhardt notes, is a declinist candidate, a rare thing indeed.  But he’s declinist with a twist.  He’s not trying to motivate Americans to be better.  There’s no idealism to his pitch.  No appeal to the better angels of our nature.  No – Trump is all about finding (marginal and vulnerable) people to blame and punishing them.

Again, he’s the sorest of losers.  Come this November, Americans need to make sure he remains a loser.

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11 thoughts on “Trump the Sorest of Losers

  1. I’ll never understand how anyone can support him. The only explanation can be insanity, stupidity, ignorance or just plain they’re afraid of a woman in the white house!

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  2. “…had a bromance with Vladimir Putin…”

    I normally stop reading when the Putin-bashing begins. Out of a long-time respect (now, somewhat lessened) for Tom Englehardt, however, I followed the provided link to Talking Points Memoand read a few lines from Josh Marshall before giving up on him, too. What unadulterated trash.

    If you have to attack Donald Trump by suggesting an unwarranted or unhealthy (homosexual?) relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin — highly respected among his own citizens and other world leaders — then you have really scraped the bottom of the desperation barrel, in my humble opinion. Perhaps those “exceptional” Americans wishing to make America “grate” again (as if it had ever stopped grating on the raw nerve of human decency) might want to do an Internet search on “Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin” for an example of a real U.S.-Russian “bromance”; one universally celebrated by Wall Street and Washington, D.C “elites”; one that the typical Russian today would spit at in undisguised rage and contempt. Americans may prefer the drunken pushover Yeltsin or the naive, trusting Gorbachev, but the Russians will take the sober, confident, and competent Vladimir Putin any day. Good for them.

    Americans once elected Franklin Delano Roosevelt four times because they couldn’t imagine anyone else as President of their country in time of great crisis. If the Russians have the sort of brains, education, and culture that I think they do, they feel the same way about Vladimir Putin and will act accordingly. “Exceptional” Americans, despondent and dispairing of their own corrupt and incompetent political “leadership” can only look on with undisguised envy and resentment at a revitalized Russia and the leader who brought that important country back from the edge of oblivion.

    Looking at things logically, if Vladimir Putin and the Russian people really had any influcnce on Donald Trump, the present humiliating food fight of an “election” would look sane and adult, like the parliamentary elections the Russians just had, instead of the disgusting debacle we have in our own land. We Americans really ought to stop grating on the world’s nerves and clean up our own rubbish from our own yard. No one wants to listen to us whine and bitch about what those demonic titans abroad have made us poor little exceptionalists do in spite of our purity and noble “values.”

    I hope that Tom Englehardt can do better in his next article. If he truly finds Donald Trump so abhorrent, wait till he sees what comes next : “I came. I saw. They died. [cackle, cackle]”

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  3. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

    “A jeremiad is a long literary work, usually in prose, but sometimes in verse, in which the author bitterly laments the state of society and its morals in a serious tone of sustained invective, and always contains a prophecy of society’s imminent downfall.”

    The Pentagon just committed a very public mutiny, telling their “Commander-in-Brief” to go pound sand (which he dutifully has done without a whimper of protest). The State Department’s (retired Navy admiral) spokesman has threatened to send Russian servicemen home from Syria (another country that the U.S. has invaded and wrecked in violation of every international law) in body-bags. US Army chief [General Mark Milley] fires terrifying threat to Russia over Syria and warns: ‘We’ll beat you anywhere, anytime’.

    Hello, America? Anybody home?

    Yet somehow, in spite of this vaunted “free press” we keep hearing about, we scared, frightened, terrified, diaper-soiling, bed-wetting Americans read little or nothing about these alarming developments. What do we get instead? Just another scary jeremiad about the “loser” Donald Trump who, for some unexplained reason, hasn’t already lost before the casting of a single vote. Why can’t Americans just wait until people vote, then count the votes, then declare who “won”? Why all this incessant prophesying of impending doom? It would seem to me that the U.S. military has already decided to bring about that Apocalypse thing, for personal career, institutional, and budgetary reasons, if nothing else, whatever the current (not to mention the next) Commander-in-Brief might have to say about anything. You can always count on the American puppet-show “elections” to miss the obvious and important point — like a military coup — entirely. Donald Trump seems to recognize the absurdity of it all and treats the whole charade with the nonchalant disdain that it deserves. Those who have decided to vote for him understand and appreciate that. Whatever that means, if it means anything.

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    1. Mike: You seem to be criticizing my article, and those of many others on Trump, for what I didn’t write. I guess I should be writing about a Pentagon coup? And not about Trump and his many character flaws, and why I believe these make him a dangerous choice for the presidency? I’m just supposed to shut up until November and let the people vote?

      By the way, is there really anything that new about a Pentagon “coup”? The national security state, as we’ve noted many times, is already a 4th branch of government, pushing its weight around against the Congress and president. Even Ike as president felt the pressure, and he was a retired five-star general. Nothing new here. And I doubt a President Trump would change anything, unless you believe he can purge the top brass, as he hinted he would. I’m sure that would change things!

      Also, your defense of Putin: Is Putin really an enlightened autocrat? Is he truly genuinely popular among the mass of Russians, beloved for his leadership and respect for the law?

      To me, Putin seems like a savvy and at times ruthless leader, a survivor, a strong man. Respect him? Yes. I can respect a leader who’s serious and tough, while criticizing him for the price his rule has exacted on the people. And I must admit I’m no expert on the man, and what I know of him is based on Western sources that are both incomplete and biased. But let’s not deceive ourselves that Putin is Mother Teresa, nor should be demonize him as some kind of Rasputin.

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      1. Thanks for the reply, Bill. A bit thin-skinned and defensive, I must say, but welcome as much for what you don’t say as for what you do. Where to begin? Well, how about at the beginning of your article, with your very own first sentence? I quote:

        “Are there too many articles about Donald Trump? You might say yes.”

        So, I agreed with you. I said, “yes” in answer to your rhetorical question, which I realize doesn’t really ask a question but instead makes a disguised assertion. If you don’t want people to agree with you, then don’t begin your articles by asking them to do so. Either that or learn to phrase your assertions directly, instead of implicitly. For example: “The world has already suffered through too many articles about Donald Trump. Still, I intend to offer yet another one.” See how that straight-forward grammar and semantics thing works? Declarative sentences in the indicative mood will usually get your point across, assuming you have one.

        Next, I began my comments by criticizing Tom Englehardt (whom you mention at great length), and not you. I criticized Mr Englehardt primarily for his link to a “bromance” article by Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo. Did you miss that? Again, I specifically objected to the snarky innuendo contained in the currently trendy term “bromance,” which suggests some sort of unhealthy homosexual proclivity and which, for that reason, I consider too-cute for serious consideration. I thought I did a fair job in deconstructing Englehardt’s and Marshall’s “bromance” aspersion — cast at both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin — by comparing it to former President Bill Clinton’s famously giddy relationship with Boris Yeltsin, a bumbling drunk who pretty much opened Russia to rampant plunder by Western “shock doctrine” vulture capitalists who plunged Russia into decades of economic collapse and societal ruination. As a consequence, the Russian people hate and despise Yeltsin and anyone associated with him. If you knew anything about Russia you would know this. The Russian people credit their President, Vladimir Putin, with bringing them back from all that Gorbachev and Yeltsin “surrender monkey” shit. They use the word “resurrection.” If you knew anything about Russia, you would know that, too.

        But, as you say, you are no expert on Vladimir Putin, or Russia, and what little you know about the Russian President and/or the Russian people comes from ignorant and biased Western sources who peddle little but inaccuracies, smears, and outright lies. So, given that (1) you admit to little in the way of expertise on the subject and (2) cannot possibly trust unreliable Western sources to remedy your ignorance, then (3) I would expect you to forgo casting dark, sarcastic aspersions of your own, like “enlightened autocrat,” etc., at the Russian President. How would you know? And if the Russian people don’t care, or care in a way that you don’t understand, then why should you? What makes Americans think that they can denounce and ridicule the leaders and peoples of other nations? Why do so many Americans — quite a few of them so-called “Democrats” — feel so disinclined to respect others who may live differently but no less legitimately than we do ourselves?

        Oh, yes, and before I go any further, I resent your imputation that I regard Vladimir Putin as something of a saint simply because I have made some approving remarks — generally acknowledged by the world outside the American narrative bubble — about the man. From what I understand from Gilbert Doctorow, Stephen F. Cohen, and other experts on Russia, President Putin sits squarely in the middle of the Russian electorate, who consider him a moderate between the “Atlanticists” who would feel perfectly at home as vassals of the Global Banking Conglomerate and the “nationalistic hardliners” who consider Putin a pussy for not kicking the dogshit out of the U.S. and NATO for threatening Russia and encroaching upon its borders with missiles and hostile military exercises. I never said that this makes him a “saint,” much less “enlightened.” On the other hand, his conservative character and political understanding make him acceptable to a significant majority of his countrymen who may object to some of his policies — if anything, they consider him too weak and accommodating — but credit his calm, caution, and willingness to talk to anyone as qualities an effective leader should possess. I consider those remarks a fair assessment. If some Americans don’t like such assessments, then too bad for them.

        For his part, Donald Trump has only made one or two off-the-cuff remarks acknowledging President Putin’s domestic popularity and governing competence. Why do such innocuous and polite comments make him — or me — a “tool” or “stooge” or “apologist”? I call bullshit on the Nixon-McCarthy smear tactics. I have known them all my life and they never fail to raise their ugly head the moment someone says anything innocuous or positive about another country that Americans couldn’t locate on a map, much less understand in any meaningful way. The Soviet Union dissolved itself decades ago. After a very rough interval of reorganization and trauma, a Russian Federation — Democratic and Capitalist — has emerged and begun to assert its legitimate place in the world. For those Americans who simply cannot get over their Cold War demons and dragons, I would feel sorry for them but for the nagging suspicion that they know very well how corrupt and venal they have become but not could care less.

        Finally, I certainly would expect a President Trump or President Stein (my choice) to fire any number of renegade military officers. President Harry Truman fired one of the most renegade Army generals of all time, Douglas MacArthur, despite the dire warnings of Republican politicians that this would end Truman’s political career. It didn’t. And if Harry Truman could do that, then any president: especially a President Jill Stein could and should fire even more of the ticket-punching, stuffed-shirt loudmouths and incompetents. My slogan for her and her program: NO MORE PENTAGRAM! NO MORE PARKINSON’S LAW MEETS THE PETER PRINCIPLE! Dr Stein wants to cut the bloated and useless Pentagon by 50% which I consider insufficient but at least a good beginning. And I’d keep firing the loudmouthed, insubordinate bastards until they located an accountant who could conduct an audit. Why give the profligate jerks one more taxpayer dime that they cannot account for? The Founders of our nation warned us that a standing military would result in the death of our Republic and they knew from whence they spoke. The U.S. military has indeed ruined our Republic. They have “defended” us from no one, especially from themselves. Time to fire the lot of them. I say. The sooner the better for everyone.

        I couldn’t care less for either Donald Trump or You-Know-Her. But if the worst someone can say of Trump is that he regards Russia and its president as people he can respectfully deal with, then I have to ask: “So? What else have you got?”

        By the way, Thomas Frank (in The Guardian) makes a reasonable stab at explaining why You-Know-Her hasn’t wiped up the floor with the rookie political charlatan who, by all rights, ought to poll in the low teens instead of only a point or two behind the “vast experience” we keep hearing about but can find so little evidence that it has ever mattered. See:

        Some of Clinton’s pledges sound great. Until you remember who’s president

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      2. Ah, Mike. Now you’re telling me how to write. And when I suggest your critique of my article is somewhat off-subject, I get called names: “thin-skinned.” “Defensive.”

        Well, if you think that’s the way to advance a discussion, so be it.

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    2. Something else that needs recognition is that Russia is preparing a no-fly zone in defense of Syria. They understand the game plan and are, with the Chinese and others, drawing lines of defense. The Russian people, like the Syrians, will die on their feet before they live on their knees.

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  4. Well, well, talk about an interesting 5 comments. I tend to look at this from a little distance, i.e. Canada. I can only speak for myself, not my country which is doing a bang up job of supporting the US in it’s many adventures. Now adventure is a funny word, for an incident to be an adventure, there has to be some risk of a not too happy ending with the assumption that if you can tell the story then the adventure had a positive outcome. Most of the American adventures seem to me to have not had happy endings, for neither the US or the recipients of said adventure.

    Now the Donald is articulating that in the most crude and offensive way, which is why it is resonating with all those who feel they would like to tell the American elite to go suck on a bag of snot. They have been polite, they have been long suffering, they have watched their sons come home in body bags in the dead of night, they have lost their jobs, seen their marriages broken by poverty, listened to the lies of the bankers and the Fed that everything is great and getting better and they look across the kitchen table and try not to puke.

    They look at Clinton and they see another elite crook, liar and persona that says she will deliver more of the same and they are saying loud and clear, “We’re mad and we are not going to take it any more!” If the Donald does 10 percent of what he says he is going to do they will be ecstatic because they sense Bush, Obama and now Hillary are just going to give them more of the same. So, if you don’t want blood in the streets, civil war, then thank the Donald for this chance for those who are seething to see some pay back.

    Now Mr. Astore, to address your comments re Mr. Putin, I think it’s time you started watching some real news! Let me suggest, Russian Insider, Ft. Russ, The Saker, Duran and Sputnik, Global Research and Moon of Alabama to give you a different perspective than the one you articulated. Give me instances where Putin bullied, or misused his people in any way. Obviously the Russians think he’s great, with a popularity rating around 80% which to the best of my knowledge no other Democratic leader is even close. Try Obama, Merkel, Hollande, recently Cameron and if you added them all together you might get 80%.

    Well, I guess this rant has got something of my chest – I sure feel a lot better so thank you for your comment section.

    Thomas Lunde

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    1. Thanks. Yes, Trump represents change, but he’s alarmingly short on specifics. Based on all the debates and talks I’ve watched, Trump is remarkably undisciplined and ignorant. He’s bombastic and reckless (his assertion that the military will follow his orders regardless of their legality gave me the chills when I first heard it). He has the makings of a demagogue, and a very dangerous one given the American arsenal at his disposal. He seeks to sic people on others — the Mexicans! the Muslims! And people think he’s the right man to lead the nation?

      I am almost equally critical of Hillary. As I’ve argued here, I see her as thoroughly compromised by the system she inhabits. She’s basically a moderate to rightist Republican on issues related to war and national defense, and that’s not what I want in the next president.

      As I said, I’m no expert on Russia and Putin. I’m not exactly sure how others present themselves as disinterested experts on all things Putin. I envy their expertise and ability to know exactly how the Russian people feel.

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