Donald J. Trump presents the WWE: World Wide Elections
by Tom Sullivan
"You gotta hand it to the guy," a friend said of Donald Trump last night. "He knows how to keep all the attention focused on him."
Donald Trump was reacting to the president's Sunday address, and to a new poll showing Ted Cruz pulling ahead of Trump in Iowa. We were reacting to Trump's reaction. To wit, Trump called for “total and complete shutdown” of U.S. borders to Muslims, even including Americans living (or stationed) abroad:
Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said Trump’s proposed ban would apply to “everybody”, including Muslims seeking immigration visas as well as tourists seeking to enter the country. Another Trump staffer confirmed that the ban would also apply to American Muslims who were currently overseas – presumably including members of the military and diplomatic service. “This does not apply to people living in the country,” Trump said in an interview on Fox News, “but we have to be vigilant.”
Something finally clicked. Trump is not a carnival barker or a clown. His appeal is the same as that of professional wrestling. He puts on a loud, blustery show and promises that the forces of Right will beat back the Foreign Menace. Back in the day, the Foreign Menace was named Ivan or Boris. Or Nikolai Volkoff, for instance, the villainous faux-Russian wrestler. After the Iran hostage situation came the Iron Sheik, born in Tehran. Today it is Muslims as a whole.
But the Foreign Menace is just for starters. There are plenty of other Others at which wrasslin' fans can shake their fists. Wrestling matches "pit the Good, the Pure, and the True against the Bad, the Mean, and the Ugly," as William C. Martin explained in 1972:
Wrestling fans are generally an egalitarian lot, at least among themselves, and they do not appreciate those who put on airs. So they are easily angered by another strain of crowd displeaser one might call Titled Snobs and Pointy-Headed Intellectuals. These villains, who love to call themselves "Professor" or "Doctor" or "Lord" Somebody-or-other, use the standard bag of tricks --pulling a man down by his hair, rubbing his eyes with objects secreted in trunks or shoes, stomping his face while he lies wounded and helpless --but their real specialty is treating the fans like ignorant yahoos. They walk and speak with disdain for common folk, and never miss a chance to belittle the crowd in sesquipedalian put-downs or to declare that their raucous and uncouth behavior calls for nothing less than a letter to the Times, to inform proper Englishmen of the deplorable state of manners in the Colonies.
A third prominent villain is the Big Mean Sonofabitch. Dick the Bruiser, Cowboy Bill Watts, Butcher Vachone, Killer Kowalski --these men do not need swastikas and monocles and big words to make you hate them. They have the bile of human meanness by the quart in every vein. If a guileless child hands a Sonofabitch a program to autograph, he will often brush it aside or tear it into pieces and throw it on the floor. It isn't that he has forgotten what it was like to be a child. As a child, he kicked crutches from under crippled newsboys and cheated on tests and smoked in the rest room. Now, at 260 pounds, he goes into the ring not just to win, but to injure and maim. Even before the match begins, he attacks his trusting opponent from behind, pounding his head into the turnbuckle, kicking him in the kidneys, stomping him in the groin, and generally seeking to put him at a disadvantage. These are bad people. None of us is really safe as long as they go unpunished.
And Donald J. Trump is just the guy to do the punishing. Believe it. Believe it.
His fans do. Like wrestling fans, Trump's don't care if what they are watching is real or just a show. They don't care if Trump based his statement on a discredited poll from the Center For Security Policy led by Frank Gaffney, an anti-Muslim extremist according to that bunch of Pointy-Headed Intellectuals at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Donald is going to lay a smackdown on the Foreign Menace and all the other weak-kneed Lesser-Thans and Titled Snobs, and they will wait in line to see him do it.
The backlash to the latest gasoline Trump has poured onto an already hot fire came swiftly. The Anti-Defamation League knows what it is like to have an entire faith targeted:
“A plan that singles out Muslims and denies them entry to the U.S. based on their religion is deeply offensive and runs contrary to our nation’s deepest values,” the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement Monday evening, hours after Trump, a real estate billionaire and reality TV star, issued his call.
“In the Jewish community, we know all too well what can happen when a particular religious group is singled out for stereotyping and scapegoating,” Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO said. “We also know that this country must not give into fear by turning its back on its fundamental values, even at a time of great crisis.”
Trump promises to bring people together. He's started by having the Jewish community take up for Muslims.
Prominent Republicans think Trump has gone too far. As if that were doable.
All Trump has done is amp up the existing rhetoric created by the current GOP. It's a joke to watch them clutch their pearls. #YouBuiltTrump— Lizz Winstead (@lizzwinstead) December 8, 2015
Even Dick Cheney said Trump's statements go "against everything we stand for and believe in." Having managed Dubya, has Cheney ever considered managing the WWE? His snarl would fit right in at ringside.