Bullies love fear. And once they sniff its smoke, the real pros know how to fuel and exploit it. They are always claiming to represent the greater good, when what they really specialize in is looking out for #1 while flinging loads of #2 at the rest of us. Consequently, the people most susceptible to their reviled reveille are the weak, the ignorant, the powerless, other bullies and folks with neck tattoos.
Hitler, Stalin and Joe McCarthy all secured status in the Big Time Bully Hall of Fame by railing against imaginary enemies. They created an “us versus them” story line where anybody who doesn’t look like us is a THEM, which can lead to an incestuous behavior typically endowing royal families with weak chins.
Quickly tiring of having sand kicked in their face by a series of invading hordes, Russia turned to bullies for self-preservation. It’s one of the reasons the Russian people never really warmed up to Mikhail Gorbachev, even though we thought he was the bees’ knees. Or the bear’s hair. Or kittens’ mittens. Whatever. We liked him. They didn’t.
The architect of Perestroika didn’t want to bury the West, he wanted to partner with it, to give his people Madonna CDs, Happy Meals and bars of soap without splinters of bone in them. Can’t we all get along? But after the Soviet Union dissolved, they kicked him out. So, apparently, the answer is nyet, we can’t.
Vladimir Putin has since run his country by parading around as the guy you don’t want to mess with, compared to Obama, who is the guy you don’t want to play backgammon with. Putin is a dangerous bully and wants you to know it. That’s why he’s always pulling stunts like riding wolves bareback shirtless and wrestling sharks. For crum’s sake, the guy is 5’ 7”, which is barely taller than Tom Cruise. Maybe he should play Jack Reacher in the sequel.
President Obama suffers from Gorbachev Syndrome, with the world singing his praises, and the right castigating him for not being macho enough. The irony is, America is tired of fighting. We love that Obama has kept us out of war. The problem is he refuses to swagger while doing it. That’s really what we want - a bullying pacifist. Jimmy Carter’s policies with Ronald Reagan’s swashbuckle.
So give Donald Trump his due, the man knows how to swagger. He’s spent his whole life running bluffs in the highest stakes poker game on the planet: New York real estate. The man is to bluster what Switzerland is to cuckoo clocks.
And now as a candidate, he’s capitalizing on our anxiety over a terrorist invasion, massaging it like a trainer does Aaron Rodgers’ calf in the Green Bay Packer locker room during halftime of a playoff game against the Seahawks.
His plan to register Muslims is not only unconstitutional, small-minded and xenophobic, but a bombastic opening ante smacking of fascism. In this post-nuclear world, the phrase “Might makes right” is wrong and it’s time we band together to smite might.
Not even Ronald Reagan, in the depths of the Iranian hostage crisis, lowered himself to scapegoating an entire religion. Matter of fact, the only way Trump resembles Reagan is both are known for gravity-defying hair whose color falls slightly on the suspect side of reality. Meaning Trump is the worst of two worlds, Putin’s ugly rhetoric and Reagan’s hair.
Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comedian and margarine smuggler