How to Beat Trump: Laugh Him Out

Every joke is a tiny revolution.

George Orwell

Critics of President Trump can learn something from pro-democracy movements in other countries. Just as pointing and laughing deflates flashers, wit deflates dictators. Making the leader a laughing stock wins people over. In his recent column for the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof labels the power of mockery as “laughtism.”

We know it works against Trump. Who can forget the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner when Seth Meyers rolled out his Trump jokes as a grim-faced Donald glared back.

Donald Trump says he would run for president as a Republican, which is odd because I just assumed he was running as a joke.

Seth Meyers, 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner

The Kristof notes that the Committee for the Protection of Journalists — which I looked at in a recent post about the Voice of America — has intervened this year to defend seven cartoonists around the world who were arrested, threatened with prosecution, or threatened with death.

It was a cartoon of a the prophet Muhammad in the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that led to the 2015 attack that killed 11 of its staff. The New York Times’ Norimitsu Onishi reported that the magazine reprinted the cartoon last month as the trial began.

The editorial cartoons that run in my newspaper, The Palm Beach Post, have hit the nail on the head, lampooning the White House’s coronavirus containment claims and strident electioneering. Cartoonists David Horsey and Clay Bennett are among the cartoonists that I’ve featured in my recent posts.

The grins of the people are the nightmares of the dictators.

Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo

Kristof closes with a final quote of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo that seems particularly well-timed. In the international embarrassment that was the first presidential debate, Vice President Biden called Trump a liar, but we have come to understand this as a fact, along with his cheating and other corruptions. Trump has been discredited so frequently, most recently in the NYT tax expose, that cartoonist Andy Marlette was ready with this within hours of the debate.

What did make the headlines was Biden calling Trump a clown.

Kristof quotes Liu Xiaobo in assuring us that a clown is much easier to dispose of.

A clown needs less revenge than a monster does.

Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo

… satirizing an authoritarian is good for the nation because it makes the eventual downfall and transition softer and less violent.

Nikolas Kristof, The New York Times

Practice laughtism. With apologies to Stephen Sondheim, send out the clown.

America Pitied By Allies, Trump Embraced By Far-Right

The world has loved, hated, and envied the US. Now, for the first time, we pity it.

Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times

The United States’ response to the Coronavirus has been marked by leadership failure, science denial, and political manipulation, such that, seven months into the pandemic, our country has had 6.5 million cases of the virus, and we are closing on 200,000 American deaths. According to the Republican National Convention, all of this is in the rear view mirror. According to reality, the virus continues to spread. As students go back to school this month — with the courts reviewing Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s order to open brick-and-mortar schools — health directors and epidemiologists forecast renewed ignition.

The journal Foreign Policy released a report gauging the performance of 36 nations in responding to COVID-19. The United States ranked 31st, ahead only of Indonesia, Turkey, Mexico, Iran, and China.

Senegal, a country of 60 million people ranking near the top of Foreign Policy’s list, has had only 14,000 cases and 284 deaths to date in this pandemic. The state of Florida, with about twice as many people, has nearly 50 times the number of cases. An American living in Senegal says that her Senegalese friends are flabbergasted that Americans are arguing over whether to wear masks and questioning the severity of the virus.

There hasn’t been a moment where my family was thinking that we should have evacuated. We always felt being here was the better choice.

Shannon Underwood, American living in Senegal, quoted by Deirdre Shesgreen, USA Today

America, for the first time in its history, is pitied and viewed with disdainful condescension. And the person at the helm — who the conservative commentator George Will calls “the most frivolous person ever to hold any great nation’s highest office” — has his hands off the wheel while our nation is on a downward spiral.

No, that’s putting it too passively. The nation’s floundering government is now administered by a gangster regime, and that’s not just America’s problem. Trump is emerging as a far-right cult figure in other countries, writes Katrin Bennhold, The New York Times’ Germany correspondent.

His message of disruption — his unvarnished nationalism and tolerance of white supremacists coupled with his skepticism of the pandemic dangers — is spilling well beyond American shores.

Katrin Bennhold, The New York Times

This really sticks in my craw. An “America first” tin-pot dictator modeling fascist behavior for a far-right German audience is the antithesis of the role of American president. It begs the contrast with another American president who spoke to a German audience. In his 1963 rock-star tour of Europe, President John F. Kennedy affirmed America’s solidarity with West Germany in resisting the Russians. “I am a Berliner.” Pro-democracy. Pro-NATO. Pro-allies.

My father represented our country in the US Foreign Service. In 1963, he was posted at the American Embassy in Rome, Italy, where he handled the press when President Kennedy visited a few weeks after being in Germany.

The plans went off without a hitch. Kennedy emerged alone from Air Force One, glamorous and handsome, waving to the small knot of observers. His open-air limousine was escorted by the handsome Carabinieri on horseback. He made his protocol visit to the Quirinale Palace, the seat of the national government. Kennedy’s call on Pope Paul VI came just days after his installation upon the death of John XXIII. The media noted this historic meeting between the first Catholic American president and the head of the Catholic Church.

From When the Dictator Flew Over Our House & Other True Stories, not yet published, Jane Kelly Amerson López

Like diplomats before and after him, my father’s loyalty was to the United States and its elected leader, regardless of policies or political party. It was not always easy — Dad came to disagree with the Vietnam War, which very much colored America’s overseas relationships — but being a diplomat today comes with unprecedented challenges. A July Democratic staff report to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations — Diplomacy in Crisis: The Trump Administration’s Decimation of the Department of State — concluded:

The President has undermined the United States’ role as a global leader, withdrawing from international organizations, agreements, and commitments, seeking to walk back our responsibilities to allies and partners, and retreating from leading the response to global crises.

Democratic Staff Report to the Committee on Foreign Relations, US Senate.\

The facts speak for themselves. Or, to quote Trump, “It is what it is.” We will vote in November.

Political Musings in the Time of Corona: Andy Marlette, David Horsey, Clay Bennett

Trump ads threaten: “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.” The images in these ads were taken as Trump sits in the White House. We have never been lead so callously.

He’s against God. He’s against guns.

Donald J. Trump, about Joe Biden

Trump sounds like a frantic salesman who cannot keep his pitch straight.

EJ Dionne, The Washington Post

He is hoping to get the nation to focus on the lesser problem of mayhem… To distract from the crushing, monumental screwup of public health and the economy.

Mona Charen, Ethics and public policy center

He is a businessman, and as such has thrown in the towel and declared bankruptcy.

William Damato, Letter to the Editor. The Palm Beach Post

The most dangerous people are the ones who speak with total authority and no room for error.

Jerome Groopman, Harvard Medical School

We all have to die, but we don’t have to die of stupidity.

Leonard Pitts, The Washington Post

Stupidity is being allowed to metastasize. And without science-based leadership at the top, it will continue to empower and embolden the mask holes among us.

Frank Cerabino, The Palm Beach Post

I equate Florida to a cruise ship. It’s very social, and it’s very group friendly, whether you’re flocking to the beach with friends or you’re all around the table having lunch.

Peter Ricci, Hospitality and Tourism Management program, Florida Atlantic University

We have I would say uncontrolled transmission at this time. That is fair to say.

Norman Beatty, assistant professor of medicine, University of Florida division of infectious diseases and global medicine

Florida alone has an average daily death toll roughly equal to that of the whole European Union, which has 20 times its population

Paul Krugman. The New York Times

Nothing’s risk-free in life.

Governor Ron DeSantis

Local government leaders in Georgia are being sued by the governor of that state for having the temerity to order the wearing of masks in their jurisdictions.

Can I get annexed to Germany or even North Carolina?

Mayor of Athens, Georgia

I am among the many New York State government retirees living in Florida. I know we make up the largest group outside the State. I know we have the expertise and the numbers, so how about we can petition Andrew Cuomo to be annexed? We would leave Mar-A-Lago behind.