Politics » Politics Feature

Donald Trump's No Pussy: Jackson Baker in New Hampshire

Win or lose, the New York billionaire has expanded and democratized the language of politics.

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MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE — Give this to Donald J. Trump: Whatever his ultimate fate as a candidate for president of the United States, he can be credited with expanding the boundaries of what is publicly sayable by someone seeking that high office.

The Manhattan-bred billionaire’s previous contribution to the political vocabulary was his use some weeks ago of the participle “schlonged” to describe the defeat administered by Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton in their contest for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

JB
  • JB

That piece of Yiddish vernacular — long familiar to anyone who, like Trump, grew up in the environs of New York and now equally well known to the nation at large — denotes an activity of the male genital organ, of course. It was inevitable that — fair and balanced as The Donald strives to be, despite his quarrel with Fox News, the appropriators of that term — he would eventually do equal duty by the female anatomy.

And now he has — appropriately enough, at the, um, climax of his last major address of the New Hampshire presidential-primary season, before a huge audience of media and supporters in the cavernous Verizon Wireless Arena of the state’s capital.

For anyone who has not yet seen a video clip of that henceforth-to-be-memorial moment, here’s a brief transcript of what Trump had to say as his stream-of-consciousness speech moved him to recall being chided by Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush about his “tone,” which reminded him of a moment of reticence on rival Ted Cruz’s part during this past week’s Republican presidential debate.

TRUMP: “They asked Ted Cruz a serious question: ‘What do you think about waterboarding, and, I said, Okay, honestly, I thought he would say, ‘Absolutely.’ And he didn’t. He said, ‘Well …’ You know he was concerned about the answer because some people ...”
Distracted by a woman supporter in one of the front rows, Trump interrupted himself. Pointing to the woman, he said, “She just said a terrible thing. You know what she said? Shout it out, because I don’t want to say ...”
WOMAN: “He’s a pussy!”
TRUMP (chuckling): “OK. You’re not allowed to say … and I never expect to hear that from you again. She said … (mock scolding )… I never expect to hear that from you again…” (crowd now chuckling along with him) :She said, ‘He’s a pussy!'”

What ensued from the crowd, not all of whom had heard the interloper distinctly but all of whom now heard Trump loud and clear, was first shock, then awe, then delight, then pandemonium and chants of “TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP!”” It was Donald Trump’s latest Gettysburg moment in his campaign to Make America Great Again.

Granted, Trump was only repeating what his supporter had said, and he went through a tongue-in-cheek moment of propitiating potential critics with a mock “reprimand,” but when he playfully asked, “Can she stay?” and the crowd bellowed its approval, he smiled broadly in satisfaction.

So, okay, the battle lines are now clear on an issue, perhaps the defining one, of Trump’s campaign — that of political correctness. Oh, go ahead and heap some other adjectives on: social correctness. verbal correctness. philosophical correctness. What you will. The man is come not to uphold the law but to abolish it.

In a campaign based on the most broad-brush attitude imaginable toward political issues, it is Trump’s fundamental iconoclasm that stands out. Be it ethnic groups, war heroes, disabled persons, gender equities, or linguistic norms, Trump is simply dismissive of all protocols.

He had arrived late for Monday night’s address, marveling at the sight of thousands crammed into the Verizon arena on the night of what he, more or less accurately, had called a blizzard, one which, he said, had caused at least seven accidents outside. He boasted of his up-scale, successful friends and of what he, and they, along with his supportive hordes of ordinary folks, could do to change the country.

He had his wife Melania, a former pin-up model from Slovenia, say to the crowd, in her heavily accented voice, “We love you in New Hampshire. We together will make America great again.”

And then, at the close of his remarks, mindful again of the weather on this primary eve, “I want to finish up, because you’ve got a bad evening out there. You have to do me a favor. I don’t really care if you get hurt or not, but I want you to last 'til tomorrow. So don’t get hurt!”

The crowd cheered.

Up until Saturday night’s debate, I had thought there was a fair chance of Trump’s being overtaken on the Republican side in New Hampshire by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who entered this last week of the primary on a roll after finishing third in the Iowa caucuses (won by right-wing poster boy Cruz) and coming close there to catching Trump for the silver.

But that was before Rubio and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie did their impromptu version, at the weekend debate, of a well-known Washington Irving short story, the one in which schoolmaster Ichabod Crane has been dazzling everybody as a fine young dandy until village bully Brom Bones, played in this case by Chris Christie, runs him right off the reservation.

Maybe that’s overstated as a comparison to the verbal pummeling Christie, obviously desperate to keep his own diminishing hopes as a suitor alive, gave to Rubio on the score of the latter’s talking points, rote-sounding to the point of self-parody, but it was pretty brutal. A thought: Anybody who went to high school in New Jersey with Christie and fancied the same girl that he did was ipso facto risking a serious ass-kicking.

But there was a serious point to the mayhem, which Christie duly made. And that was that the GOP field’s three governors — Christie, John Kasich of Ohio, and Bush of Florida — were all seasoned in actual administration rather than in the kind of parliamentary fencing that both Rubio and Cruz were skillful at.

Up to now the gubernatorial types have been puffing hard trying to stay within hailing distance, not only of the two clever young senators, but also of such untutored originals as Trump and Dr. Ben Carson.

Kasich inevitably talks a good civics-class game in public, and, after attending a Bush town hall on Sunday morning, I found myself more impressed with his comprehensiveness than I had expected to be. (He even acknowledged the reality of man-made climate change, albeit somewhat left-handedly, in response to an attendee’s question.)

As for the Democrats, they should really take heart that they have two candidates with significant followings, Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and that Thursday night’s debate between the two of them, beginning with such blazing dissonance, should end on a note of genuine respect.

When I saw Bernie at a rally at Great Bay Community College at Portsmouth on Sunday, it was precisely what I expected — an overflow crowd not only composed of today’s youth (lots of them) but one significantly leavened by graying ex-hippies from another time.

Pundits keep comparing Sanders to the charismatic Obama of 2008 or even, in his populist appeal, to Trump. But he is neither an inspiring New Thing like the former nor an exciting celebrity scofflaw like the latter. He is a bona fide revolutionary with a program that is authentically socialist — free college, state-supported medical care for everybody, guaranteed living wage for all workers, sticking it to the too-big-to-fail corporations.

A program of reform that attacks economic inequality directly and isn’t, like so much liberalism of the present, siphoned off into purely social issues, a la what Marcuse called repressive desublimation. (Although Bernie endorses the social issues, too.)

Still, Hillary, the former first lady, senator, and secretary of state, has IOUs and a skill-set that shines through in extended give-and-take sessions like one I witnessed at New England College in Henniker and are built for the long haul. We’ll see.

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