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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

On the importance of labeling the inept clown posse in Trump's scandal

by John MacBeath Watkins

We must, without further delay, label participants in Donald Trump's Russia collusion "the Inept Clown Posse."

Watergate had a compelling name, especially when you consider that the water gate to the Tower of London is also known as "Traitor's Gate."

From Wikipedia:
Prisoners were brought by barge along the Thames, passing under London Bridge, where the heads of recently executed prisoners were displayed on pikes. Notable prisoners such as Sir Thomas More entered the Tower by Traitors' Gate.[2]
The people who committed the "third-rate burglary" at the Watergate Hotel also had a water-themed name: The plumbers.

Once we've labeled the Inept Clown Posse, we can start working on a name for the scandal as a whole. So far, we don't have a colorful geographic label for it, like Watergate or Teapot Dome. The Trump Collusion, provided that collusion is proven (and many claim that the Donald Trump Jr. meeting to receive proffered Russian government help in the election has settled that issue) has a certain, Robert Ludlum-y, "The Subject Predicate" feel to it.

Language gives us the categories we use to think about things. The connotations of the terms we use -- the feelings we associate with the words -- are an important part of the way the label resonates with listeners.

Trump yearns to dominate every relationship. Calling him and his co-conspirators the inept clown posse points to the greatest source of his weakness, his own incompetence and that of some of the people on whom he relies most heavily. The Trump Collusion encapsulates the problem, and has an appropriately third-rate pulp spy novel feel that goes to the heart of Trump's willingness to court the aid of Russia, a country the last Republican nominee for president called our "number one geopolitical foe."

Trump, and many in the Republican Party, saw his Democratic opponent as his biggest political foe, and defined a hostile foreign power as an acceptable ally in defeating her. This willingness to accept the aid of a foreign enemy  against his domestic opponent shows that he cares less about being an American than about beating an American.  The most likely reason he hasn't released his income taxes is that they would show how dependent he is on Russian money, and demonstrate to all those willing to see that he places his own avarice over the good of his country.

Now, I'm not claiming Inept Clown Posse is definitely the perfect label for him and his enablers. It does fail to capture his subservient behavior toward Vladimir Putin, or his adoration of people like Putin who have managed to eliminate the democratic limits on their power. But I submit that at least for now, it carries the right connotations to make him an object of ridicule, which is one of the worst things that can happen to a would-be strong man.


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