Once again, we've got a rather long end section today, so we're going to present our wrap-up of the week's news in rather abbreviated fashion. This is because we are finally (only a few weeks late!) unveiling the finalists in our "come up with a playground taunt for Trump" contest (which initially ran back in FTP ), so there's that to look forward to, down in the talking points section.
So, quickly and to the point: Donald Trump all but declared war (once again) on the media this week, after they actually did their jobs and investigated whether Trump had made good on his claims of donating millions to veterans' charities. Turns out, he hadn't (at least, not fully). When he was forced to quickly start writing checks by investigative journalists, he (of course) flipped his lid. He held a press conference where he exhibited (once again) his sneering disdain for the media, and for anyone who ever questions anything he says. Perhaps this will fully open the eyes of the media who still refuse to call Trump on the carpet for some of his bigger whoppers? One would like to think so, at any rate.
The "Never Trump" movement has now entered the embalming phase, as Bill Kristol announced he had finally found someone to mount a third-party conservative run for the White House (maybe). He is a guy almost nobody has ever heard of, who is still not even fully committed to running. That whimpering sound you hear is the "Never Trump" movement's death rattle, folks.
Or maybe it is the pathetic whimpering of the last major Republican officeholder to renounce all moral and ethical standing and subserviently fall into line behind the Trump candidacy, firmly placing party above country. We cannot claim original credit for this line (we think we heard it on a late-night comedy show, but we're not certain), but the best way we've heard to sum this up is: "Paul Ryan just stuck his head so far up Trump's butt that he bumped into Chris Christie."
Over on the Democratic side of the race, Bernie Sanders continues to barnstorm around California, which (of course) led to disdain and snarkiness about dirty hippies actually voting from the inside-the-Beltway press corps. Bernie might just win the Golden State next Tuesday, which has the same inside-the-Beltway crowd all a-flutter. But Bernie has now succeeded not only in pulling Hillary Clinton in the direction the Democratic Party used to strive for, but he's also managed to shift President Barack Obama in the same positive direction. Obama gave what can only be called "his first Democratic campaign speech in the 2016 race" this week in Indiana, and there was one very interesting excerpt:
And then we have to tackle retirement security. That's something that keeps a lot of people up at night.... Let's face it -- a lot of Americans don't have retirement savings. Even if they've got an account set up, they just don't have enough money at the end of the month to save as much as they'd like because they're just barely paying the bills. Fewer and fewer people have pensions they can really count on, which is why Social Security is more important than ever.
We can't afford to weaken Social Security. We should be strengthening Social Security. And not only do we need to strengthen its long-term health, it's time we finally made Social Security more generous and increased its benefits so that today's retirees and future generations get the dignified retirement that they've earned. And we could start paying for it by asking the wealthiest Americans to contribute a little bit more. They can afford it. I can afford it.
This is in stark contrast to that time when Obama was ready to sign off on cuts to Social Security as part of the (shudder) "Grand Bargain," a few years back. So Bernie is pulling not only Hillary to positions the vast majority of the public approves of, but also the current leader of the Democratic Party as well. Way to go, Bernie!
Things are getting so good that Democrats are now openly wondering whether they'll actually be able to retake control of the House of Representatives. Now that's a dream worth working towards, right?
OK, two quick unrelated news tidbits, and then we'll get on with the rest of the column. The first is the big philatelic news -- the 99th original "Inverted Jenny" stamp (what younger stamp collectors often refer to as the "upside-down airplane stamp") has been located, after being stolen decades ago. There are only 100 of these in existence (only one full sheet was sold), and now all but one of them are accounted for. In American stamp-collecting news, that's about as big as it gets, folks!
And in other "hobby" news, we end with the following report about the intrepid folks at the Drug Enforcement Agency, keeping America safe from... uh, well... maybe not. Here's the whole story from the AP:
A New York prosecutor has told jurors at a criminal trial that a Drug Enforcement Administration supervisory agent and another employee lied by not disclosing their ownership in a New Jersey strip club.
Prosecutor Paul Monteleoni says the men did so because the ownership could prevent them from maintaining D.E.A. top-secret security clearance.
The prosecutor made the accusation Tuesday during opening statements in the trial of Glen Glover, of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, and David Polos, of West Nyack, New York. Glover is a suspended D.E.A. telecommunications specialist. Polos is a retired former assistant special agent in charge of the New York office.
Defense attorney Marc Mukasey says prosecutors wrongly took an investment and hobby and insisted it should have been described as a job on a government document.
It's a "hobby" to own a strip club? Wow -- who knew? That certainly sounds more interesting than stamp collecting, we have to admit....
Although we personally attended a most-impressive Bernie Sanders rally this week (which we wrote about earlier, with slightly-blurry photos), we have to say that Hillary Clinton was easily the winner of the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award this week, for the speech she gave yesterday.
With this speech, Hillary Clinton has kicked off her general election campaign. She was smart to do so because nothing has been stopping her from pivoting from attacking Bernie to attacking her real foe, Donald Trump. She finally realized this and cut loose with a speech which was downright scathing in nature.
The 2016 general election campaign for president is quite likely to be the most vicious political battle of recent memory. Perhaps even "of our lifetimes." Donald Trump has simply ignored the normal political candidate's playbook, the tacitly agreed-upon rules for propriety in any presidential campaign, and any negative reactions from the media all along, and he's going to continue to do so all the way to November.
What this all means is that Hillary Clinton is going to have the political fight of her life on her hands -- a fight that has already begun. By going on the offense this early, she is signaling that she is not going to lay low for a few months during the summer (this used to be a normal occurrence in the presidential contest, but Barack Obama masterfully defined Mitt Romney very early on in 2012, so it is likely a thing of the past now). She also is signaling that she's fully capable of playing by the new rules (which might be stated as: "there are no rules anymore").
Now, Clinton still has plenty of room for improvement. The speech was brilliantly written, with plenty of humor and snarkiness and vicious (but truthful) digs at Trump. However, the delivery wasn't the best -- Clinton still has yet to hit her real stride in delivering such speeches, and such zingers.
She's got time to improve on this, though. For now, the content of the speech was so breathtaking that few noticed her rather flat delivery (although some did, to be fair). But she'll likely improve her performance over time. By the convention, she should have worked out the kinks and be able to deliver such a forceful speech in such a way as to provoke cheering and standing ovations from Democratic crowds. She's already got the material, she just needs to tighten her delivery a bit.
While she's still got room for improvement in style, on substance the speech was a clear indication that she's not going to be caught bringing only a knife to a gunfight. She's going to hit Trump, hit him hard, and hit him where it hurts him the most. This is precisely what she's going to need to do to counter his blizzard of bluster. Of course, every Democrat is eagerly awaiting seeing Clinton and Trump debate each other, but there likely won't be many of these debates and they're still a long way off. Most of the campaigning will happen through stump speeches. And Hillary Clinton just proved she's unafraid of fighting just as hard as she needs to in order to win the White House.
For doing so to such acclaim, Hillary Clinton is easily our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week.
[As a rule, we do not link to campaign websites, so you'll have to search Clinton's contact information for yourself, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]
This one, sadly, was pretty easy. They may not all have technically been Democrats, but they certainly were anti-Trump, so that's close enough for us at this point.
The Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week goes to all the protesters at Donald Trump rallies who think it's a good idea to resort to violence to make their political point. The most recent example was in San Jose, but sadly this was not an isolated incident. In particular, California protesters (so much for being the "mellow" state) seemed last week to be awfully quick to resort to throwing things, sucker-punches, and other odious behavior.
This, to be very blunt, does not help your cause. Far from it. In fact, it places Trump followers in the role of being the reasonable ones. This is completely counterproductive, folks.
All violence at political rallies deserves condemnation -- loud, swift, and unequivocal. No matter which side the perpetrators are on. Yelling and screaming are allowable. Threats are not. Chucking eggs (and other missiles) is definitely beyond the pale. And punching someone just for their political beliefs is worthy of nothing but condemnation.
Again: You. Are. Not. Helping. Your. Cause.
So stop it. Now.
Volume 394 (6/3/16)
We have been remiss here at Friday Talking Points world headquarters, we sheepishly admit. We ran a contest three weeks ago, and have yet to announce any winners. But the wait is now over! We are going to present our finalists today, and then we'll pick an overall winner next week.
Because we have so many entries worth noting, though, we had to pre-empt the entire talking points section today. If you'd prefer some more standard Democratic talking points, we would instead point you to the transcript of Hillary Clinton's recent anti-Trump speech, which is chock full of zingers and excellent talking points.
Our contest was, of course, to pick a new nickname for Donald Trump. We threw the challenge out there because we weren't that impressed with what the Clinton camp had come up with:
OK, as promised, we've saved our contest for last. We were prompted to create this contest by an article about how Team Clinton was test-driving "Dangerous Donald" as a playground taunt to level at Trump. The article expresses some skepticism that this will work, and we tend to agree. So what label can you come up with for Hillary Clinton (and all the Clintonistas) to use for the next six months?
We'll start the suggestions off with a few of our own, to get the playground ball rolling (as it were). Trump has reached into the land of cartoons to come up with "Goofy" as a label for Elizabeth Warren, so we thought "Dopey Donald" might be a good comeback. Of course, this one would have to get tweeted from Warren to be the most effective. Or how about "Dingbat Donald"? The idea is to ridicule Trump, which "Dangerous Donald" doesn't really achieve. Get under his skin. Make him tear his hair out (now that would be worth watching!). The last one we came up with (before we open up the comments for your entries) is a bit long-winded, but it does have a nice 50's rock-n-roll ring to it: Trumpa-Lumpa-Ding-Dong. Can you do better than this? Sure you can! Let everyone know about it in the comments, as always.
While we still profess a certain soft spot for "Trumpa-Lumpa-Ding-Dong," we are (in fairness) going to disallow all the ones we came up with to inspire others.
Before we get to the finalists, we first wanted to thank all participants -- we got a better response than we've gotten on the last few contests we've run, so right there we considered it a success. But it wasn't just the quantity of the entries, it was also the quality of the responses that impressed us.
This column runs in multiple outlets (still waiting for that syndication deal, though...), all of which reacted favorably. From commenter "Me." at Democratic Underground we got two very workable possibilities: Dirty Donnie and Dishonest Don. Both of these have the qualities that are needed -- short, snappy, and designed to get under Trump's skin in a major way. "Johnny Armstrong" at Huffington Post also had a good one: Con-Man Trump. [Note: HuffPost comments don't have individual permalinks, so this one link will have to do for all of the entries.] All of these attack Trump's persona as master businessman, which he (quite obviously) hates being challenged on in any way. The prize for shortest and snappiest of these goes to Con Don or the alternative Don the Con (both from commenter "Kick" at ChrisWeigant.com).
There were a few that might be useful for some Democrats, but which are pretty obviously out of bounds for Hillary Clinton herself to utter. The first of these (from "Johnny Armstrong" at HuffPost) was Slick Donald which would bring up the obvious negative of what her husband was previously called -- and Hillary doesn't need that association. Likewise Raping Donald (from "Steedo" at my site), which is a little too vicious for daily use. I have to say, though, "Steedo" made a good case for his entry:
The nickname should flow naturally as a response to what we know he will say. He has already started with the notion that Bill is a sexual predator making Hil an enabler. Her debate answer should be: "There were 17 Republicans running for president but only one was accused of rape, by one of his eastern-European mail-order brides. From now on I'm calling him Raping Donald." And proceed to do so at every available opportunity.
Likewise falling on the wrong side of the "too crude" line was one truly memorable moniker: Dumbass Don (from "flying rabbit" at Democratic Underground). That's got a real ring to it, doesn't it? They could get "Red" from That 70s Show to do the commercials!
Also too crude, but downright brilliant was the entry from "Kick" (my site) or "Kick Len" (Huffington Post). It even comes with a pronunciation guide:
Benedict Donald: pronounced "Been A Dick," with a silent "T" like Stephen Colbert.
That was pretty funny, although we just can't see Hillary Clinton using it, in all seriousness. Also viciously amusing were two entries from "goode trickle" at my site, the first of which would have been a finalist if it weren't for the fact that we also can't see Clinton actually beginning to use it: Trumpenfuhrer (also, as he pointed out, Trump might actually like that one). His second one was even further over the line: Needledick McTrumpstick. Funny as heck, but completely unusable for Hillary.
There were other entries that had some funny explanations, including two from "Mark Moctezuma" at HuffPost: (Bedtime for) Donzo and Dishonest Donald (which was followed with the amusing line: "Do you have hemorrhoids or is that your tongue?").
Our personal favorite in the "funny, just because" category had to have been Clownfish Von Trump (from "Kick" at my site). That one's even got a movie tie-in, what with the Finding Nemo sequel! We're not sure why that one tickled us more than the rest, but Clownfish Von Trump just seems to roll off the tongue (try saying it out loud...).
Runner-up for "rolls off the tongue best" would have to be a riff on a news item (about "Boaty McBoatface") at the top of the FTP column with the contest at the end: Trumpy McTrumpface, from "BashiBazouk" at my site.
There were several entries which relied upon alliteration worth mentioning. Ding Dong Donald ("goode trickle" from my site), Tedious Trump ("Speak2" from my site), and the more ornate Oligarch Orangutan (from "Don Harris" at my site). "John From Censornati" at my site easily takes the prize for alliteration, though, for his two entries: The Mystic Tan Misogynist and Tiny-fingered Twitter Troll Trump. Whew!
There was also an entire category of names inspired by either cartoons or cartoonish characters. Donald Schmuck (from "nypoet22" at my site) is pretty hilarious, and there were also two on the same Charlie And The Chocolate Factory theme: Troompa Loompa (also from "nypoet22" at my site) and Doompla Troompla (from"ListenWhenYouHear" at my site). Those both work well because of the unnatural orange color of both Oompa-Loompas and Donald Trump's face, of course.
With such an excellent range of entries to choose from, we found it impossible to narrow it down to only one winner. So we're presenting our top four favorites for your consideration. Vote for any of these in the comments, and next week we'll see which one edges out the rest.
Our first finalist was from the cartoon category, and came from "JoeG" at my site: Trumpty Dumpty, which seems funny, snappy, and downright workable all at the same time. Hearing Trumpty Dumpty immediately brings to mind "...had a great fall" -- and you could do all sorts of things with that. The connotations of sitting on a wall and falling off would be an absolute gold mine for Democrats to riff off of.
The next finalist was "nypoet22" from my site, who came up with what was likely the first entry of the contest from anyone, which suggested a beautiful name that really needs no explanation: Crazy Uncle Donald. Every family's got one, we all see them at Thanksgiving and other get-together holidays, and they all sound exactly like Donald Trump when they open their mouths. As we said, the simple beauty is that it is entirely self-explanatory.
Our third finalist was "Balthasar" from my site, who came up with the simplest -- and yet, most vicious -- playground taunt possible: Poor Donald. Wow -- this one works on multiple levels! Trump hates people questioning his self-professed fortune, he is easily goaded by attacks on his business problems, and it also has the flavor of "Richie Rich, the poor little rich boy." There's also a Benjamin Franklin "anti-Poor Richard" theme as well (Trump is best known for his pithy Tweets, after all, and Poor Richard would have absolutely loved Twitter!). Add in the contemptuous and dismissive quality (imagine Hillary sneering "Poor Donald" to see what we mean), and this is a strong contender to win the contest, we thought. He even gives proper credit to what inspired it:
I'd like to take a page out of the 1992 playbook and echo Ann Richards' devastating characterization of George senior:
"Poor George: born with a silver foot in his mouth."
Poor Donald is apt in so many ways, from his thinner-than-rice-paper skin, to his actual bank account, to the way he is in completely over his head.
And our last finalist is from "goode trickle" at my site, who came up with a great pun sure to bring a smile to Conan O'Brien fans everywhere: Trumpf The Insult Comic Dog. Man, who wouldn't pay money to see Triumph debate Trumpf? We realize this one's probably too long to be an actual contender, but it was easily one of our favorite entries, for sheer cleverness alone.
So that's our finalist list. Let everyone know what you think, or attempt your own late entries if the muse strikes you. Either way, we'll return next week (same bat time, same bat channel) and reveal our contest winner. First place will receive absolutely nothing, other than bragging rights among your friends (and online). Vote for the nickname you think would work best against Donald Trump, everyone! And if you really think any of them are perfect, forward them on to Hillary's campaign for their consideration....
Chris Weigant blogs at:
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant
Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com
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