Branding has been one area where President Trump has proven remarkably successful. In the Republican primaries, he belittled his opponents with demeaning epithets: “Low-Energy Jeb,” “Lyin’ Ted,” “Little Marco.” Then he turned his mocking trumpery on Democrats: “Crooked Hillary,” “Crazy Bernie,” “Pocahontas.” Name-calling is the first weapon of choice of the playground bully.

An epithet, or descriptive name, requires a distinctive adjective that sums up the character of its subject. To be successful, in the political arena, it must refer to an attribute that is politically toxic. Take “Moscow Mitch.” Nothing galls Sen. Mitch McConnell more than being allied with his mortal enemy.

Curiously, Trump’s critics have been unsuccessful at branding him with a toxic label. “Dishonest Don” is literally factual, but subjectively bland. “Little-Hands Trump,” a reference to the president’s need to overcompensate due to low self-esteem, was too puerile.

But, now, the president’s own recklessness has given rise to the perfect brand name: “Benedict Donald.” The epithet refers to Benedict Arnold, the most famous traitor in American history. Arnold, a general during the American Revolution, became enamored of the extravagant Tory lifestyle (and an 18-year-old socialite) while convalescing in Philadelphia and sold out his country for money.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi was right to wait on impeachment, instead opting for “self impeachment”: Give Trump enough rope and he will metaphorically hang himself. But, now, she is right to call for Benedict Donald’s impeachment. His collusion with Ukraine is, as she says, a “betrayal of his oath of office (and) our national security.”

Erwin Rupert

Scarborough

 


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