Donald Trump has a penchant — indeed, some say a talent — for sticking people with nicknames. Not nice nicknames, not friendly nicknames, but cruel, nasty, derogatory nicknames, ie., Lyin’ Ted, Wacky Jacky, Pocahontas, Crooked Hillary, etc.
But, so far, no-one has come up with one that’s stuck to him. Now that’s not to say many people don’t have names for Donald Trump, but most are unprintable in a family newspaper.
So, gentle reader, let me suggest one that reflects Trump’s Germanic ancestry, describes his behavior, and is easy to remember: Der Furor.
It suits him perfectly, with Webster defining “furor” as, “An angry or maniacal fit; furious or hectic activity; a sudden outburst;” all traits that fit Trump and his mercurial policy shifts and vicious, unpredictable tweet storms to a T.
So instead of saying, “President Trump today signed a third executive order banning people from predominately Muslim countries from coming to the U.S.,” or, “President Trump’s new zero-tolerance policy was designed to separate children from their parents as a deterrent,” or “President Trump unilaterally declared a trade war against China, Canada, Mexico and the European Union;” we could say Der Furor declared a trade war, Der Furor banned Muslims, and Der Furor mandated splitting families apart.
That has such a “right” ring to it: Der Furor.
Now some say the word is too extreme, but Der Furor himself says he enjoys angry/hectic activity, “I like conflict;” and conflict is what Der Furor has given us: among Democrats and Republicans, among racists and anti-racists, between health care advocates and safety-net cutters, and even among Republicans.
Some other more history-minded people might ask, “Wasn’t there another leader with the same moniker?
Nope. There was a European head of state, back in the 1930s and ‘40s, who had a nickname that sounded a bit like our new, proposed presidential nick name. But it had a totally different meaning, so isn’t the same at all. That other guy’s nick was “The Leader,” (“Der Fuhrer,” in his native German). Totally different meanings even if they sound a bit alike.
Nicknames are funny things. I was always called “Little Tom” by my folks, as my Dad was “Big Tom,” even though I was two inches taller and usually 40 pounds heavier.
Among politicians there was Ike (Eisenhower), Silent Cal (Coolidge), The Great Emancipator (Lincoln), and Teddy (Roosevelt).
Entertainers got tagged with such as Ol’ Blue Eyes (Sinatra), Satchmo (Louie Armstrong), Elvis the Pelvis (early Presley), and The Duke (Wayne).
Sports figures were known to their fans as (another) Duke (Snyder, for all you old Brooklyn Dodgers fans), The Fridge (Perry), Magic (Johnson), the Baltimore Bullet (Phelps), and Shaq (O’Neal).
Even criminals got nicknames ala Baby Face (Nelson), The Dapper Don (John Gotti), Scarface (Capone), Butch & Sundance (yes, they were real people), and Billy The Kid (Bonny).
But Der Furor has elevated the art of the nicknaming to a new level, or perhaps, driven it to a new depth, unlike any politician in modern history. His barbs are crafted to hurt, which for a candidate it might be (but really isn’t) a valid electioneering tactic. So he calls former VP Joe Biden “Crazy Joe,” California Gov. Jerry Brown “Moonbeam,” Sen. Ted Cruz “Lyin’ Ted,” Sen. Marco Rubio “Little Marco,” and the Attorney General of the United States, who he appointed, “Mister Magoo.”
And for the president/leader of free world to call another world leader (and one with nukes) “Little Rocket Man” shows a childish schoolyard streak that is a near-disqualifier from the office he holds. And reports say he’s got nicks for other world leaders: The Maple Leech (Canada’s Trudeau), Suzi Sauerkraut (Germany’s Merkel), and Theresa Teabag (England’s May).
Like the conventional arms race that preceded World War I or the nuclear arms race during the Cold War, once one side develops a new weapon, the other folks develop one just as good, or perhaps better. So I’m betting, as the mid-term elections draw near, Der Furor will unleash a new volley of nicks, but this time the other side will unleash their own volley of pejorative pet names. Which will further debase political discourse and all we’ll hear is name calling.
There is a malevolent brilliance to Der Furor’s name calling. But I wonder what would happen if he put as much time and energy into actually understanding issues and developing cogent strategies as he does in acting like a ten year old. (Full disclosure: My 10-year-old grandson has better manners and can mount a more intellectually honest argument than Der Furor.)
But, as Trump is our President, let’s all look to our leader, sit straight up to attention as he said he wanted us to, and salute (as he saluted that North Korean general) shouting and chanting in unison: “Der Furor! Der Furor!! Der Furor!”
Tom Burke’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.