I finally listened to The Donald’s so-called stump speech in its entirety – as delivered this past Pearl Harbor Day aboard the decommissioned USS Yorktown in South Carolina, a Trump-friendly state – and my first thought was “how sad.” Donald Trump has stolen his speech – his whole persona, really – from America’s most famous Muslim, Muhammad Ali.
What one learns in the Trump Speech is that he, Donald Trump, is the smartest, the bravest, the strongest, the most able, the most popular, the most truthy candidate in the field; and that he, Donald Trump, will be The Greatest President the World Has Ever Known. More than half of his one-hour show was devoted to how dumb, scared, weak, incompetent, unpopular, and untruthy the other contestants are compared to Trump, just like Ali used to beat up on his opponents before they ever entered the ring. And he has the ratings (i.e., poll numbers) to prove it!
No evidence was brought forth to support any of Trump’s assertions, except for the aforementioned “ratings” and the occasional Trumped-up anecdote from his business life. But that was also part of Ali’s routine, at least in the beginning. As he stated, in later years, “I Am the Greatest. I said that before I even knew I was. I figured if I said it enough, I would convince the world I really was the greatest.” And, in fairness to Trump, Ali stole his routine, too: from Gorgeous George, the favorite pro wrestler of his youth. In Ali’s case, however, he improved on the routine and, with one possible exception (I think the Liston fight was aboveboard, but not everyone does) none of his fights were fixed.
Which brings us back to The Donald, who has been doing his mediocre Muhammad Ali impersonation for decades in his business life, in books, on a TV show, and now in the Trump Speech. What an empty and sad affair it is. I’d give the speech a thumbs-down on style alone without even considering content. Not that there is any content. Trump has no policies and no policy advisors on his small staff, which is the main reason that I still don’t believe he’s in a serious bid for anything but attention. And he has nothing to say, really, when he’s not talking about himself.
Why is Donald Trump persisting in this? In the speech, he admitted his initial motivation in filing papers was because his latest immigrant wife told him to shit or get off the pot. But the deeper motivation for Trump’s Ali Act is to show his Dad – Fred Trump, the real estate guy and former Klan supporter, the rich guy who lent him money and started him in business – that he, Fred’s son, is strong, brave, able, popular, truthy, racisty, and – dare I say it? – loved. By everyone, of course, except Fred, who’s been dead 15 years. And was never given to expressions of affection.
Why do the rest of us have to suffer when sons go unloved?
P.S. Fred Trump was a Klan supporter during the KKK’s second incarnation in the 1920s, when its emphasis was primarily anti-immigrant.