SYNDICATED COLUMN: In Defense of Donald Trump’s Namecalling

Donald Trump likes to call people “stupid.” And/or “loser.”

Obviously, it’s juvenile.

Also obviously, Republican primary voters are into it. They like Trump’s short declarative sentences — the secret sauce of which is namecalling.

Trump’s namecalling, so loud and so short on specifics, drives the establishment political writers who dominate corporate media crazy. I suspect this is because it doesn’t give them much to do: no 12-point plans to debunk, no statistics to factcheck, no rhetorical rabbit holes in which to run around in circles at 50 cents a word.

I think it’s fabulous.

Not his politics. Those are reprehensible. For the purpose of this week’s column, however, let’s focus on The Donald’s namecalling.

First, though, I’m not at all into the “loser” thing.

Consider the source: it’s hard not to win when you inherit a fortune from your dad. Trump started the marathon of life at mile 25-1/2.

Competition does more harm than good, especially the way we do it here in America. Consider athletics: everyone who doesn’t win a gold medal or get ranked first in his or her sport is technically a loser. But those “losers” include a lot of superb athletes, many of whom are separated from the gold by random hundredths of a second in some race that easily could have gone another way. Not to mention, competition is subject to the corruption, nepotism and bad taste that determines that neither Patti Smith nor Public Enemy deserve a Grammy while Toto and Milli Vanilli do. If Patti Smith is a “loser,” there’s something wrong with the dictionary.

There is, on the other hand, something wonderfully refreshing about Donald Trump’s gleeful deployment of the S-word.

“She is the one that caused all this problem with her stupid policies,” Trump said, referring to Hillary Clinton. “You look at what she did with Libya, what she did with Syria. Look at Egypt, what happened with Egypt, a total mess. She was truly — if not the — one of the worst secretaries of state in the history of the country. She talks about me being dangerous. She’s killed hundreds of thousands of people with her stupidity.”

Trump is absolutely right. Hillary voted for the invasion of Iraq, which killed a million people. As I’ve pointed out, it wasn’t just an immoral decision — it was a stupid one, since anyone with a half a brain could see at the time that Saddam probably didn’t have WMDs, and that Bush’s war would be a disaster.

As secretary of state, Clinton never met a war she didn’t love. Under her watch and following her counsel, the United States armed radical jihadis who are now terrorists, helped topple Moammar Gaddafi, expanded a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of Libyans and reduced one of the most advanced nations in Africa into a failed state. Then she turned around and did the same exact thing to Syria.


Let Hillary’s supporters take offense. How is it unfair, wrong or intemperate to call out a foreign policy record that fits the dictionary definition of “stupid” — doing the same thing over and over, even though it never works? Stupid is as stupid does. Hillary is stupid, especially on foreign policy, and Trump is right to say so.

Winner or loser, Trump has done political debate in America a huge favor by freeing “stupid” from the rhetorical prison of words and phrases polite people aren’t allowed to use.

Interestingly, stupid people aren’t all losers and losers aren’t always stupid in Trumpworld. Hillary Clinton has one hell of a resume, which she has parlayed into a big pile of cash. She is, by Trump standards, a winner (albeit a stupid one). If I met Trump, I’d ask him if a smart person can be a loser (possible example: he called the obviously smart Russell Brand a loser, but also a “dummy”).

Pre-Trump, American politics and culture suffered from a lack of stupid-calling. I am serious.

“There has been a long tradition of anti-intellectualism in America, unlike most other Western countries,” Ray Williams wrote last year in Psychology Today. Insults reflect a society’s values. Americans value macho masculinity, good looks and youth, so our top slurs accuse their victims of being effeminate, weak, ugly, fat, old and outdated. In France, where the life of the mind is prized so much that one of the nation’s top-rated TV shows featured philosophers and auteurs discussing politics and culture over cigarettes, there are few things worse than being called stupid and having it stick. A society that ranks “stupid” as one of its worst insults lets it be known that being smart is at least as important as being tough or hot or buff.

So, Donald Trump, thanks for dropping those S-bombs.

But I’m not voting for you.

(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for and, is the author of “Snowden,” about the NSA whistleblower. His new book “Bernie” about Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, is now available for pre-order. Want to support independent journalism? You can subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)



  • Of course, it’s quite possible to be a stupid winner. The Donald comes to mind.

    • Considering his opinions stupid is one thing. Believing he himself is stupid is…well…stupid.

  • Yeah, the name-calling isn’t really so bad as the constant repetition of lies and twisted facts that feed into the hatred and fears of so many of the electorhate.I really do believe that many of the candidates are fairly intelligent people who choose to “dumb down” to pander to what so much of the public believes.

  • WJ Clinton, potentially the nation’s inaugural “first gentleman,” also is responsible for a million deaths due to his eight-year enforcement of Pappy Bush’s “economic sanctions” on Iraq.

    I’d suggest the appropriate single adjective for the Clinton’s is not “stupid” but, rather, “vicious.”

    • Here we can agree. Trump is wrong. The Washington insider types aren’t typically stupid but rather evil. They appear to “fail” their stated objectives but succeed with their ulterior ones.

  • Many people come into money and squander it. Some maintain it. Others grow it. Inheritance is no guarantee of success–same as any other of the myriad advantages people “luck into.”

    • Well, thing is, Trump did squander his inherited money, all the billions. The only reason he isn’t dirt poor is that 30 odd years ago, the folks he owed to decided it wasn’t worth the extended legal battle trying to get his stuff, so they kept him around, put him on an allowance, and rebuilt his “empire” for him. Then they took back what they were owed. And of course multiple of his properties have gone bankrupt. His name is worth money, period. He’s never been a good businessman, not really. If what happened in the 80’s had happened in the 30s he would have been one of those guys who jumped out a high window.

      • During Dumbya’s campaign, people were referring to him as “The CEO president” – thing is he was a failed CEO, much like Trump.

        “the only thing we learn from history is that Republicans never learn from history”

  • And “the way we do it here in America” is everyone gets a trophy for participation.

  • As all the top columnists tell us, the Iraq war was NOT stupid. The price of oil more than quadrupled, saving poor oilmen like Bush, jr and Cheney from ruin (or lower-upper-class status). And those top columnists tell us that Iraq and Libya are MUCH better off than they were before Bush, jr and Obama liberated them. I know lots of Iraqis, and they do NOT agree, but what do Iraqis know? Nothing. The top NYT columnists know much more than Iraqis about what Iraqis really think. And we MUST believe those brilliant columnists that Iraq and Libya are MUCH better off now. For example, when Saddam was in charge, the poor Iraqis had absolutely no cholera, a deficit I’m sure they all knew Saddam was responsible for. Now, thanks to the US and the coalition, Iraq has more cholera than they know what to do with, so they are MUCH better off.

    Gocomics banned me for life for saying we need a leader like Hillary, who will teach those evil Russkies and Chinks a lesson. If they keep up their evil ways, she’ll nuke them. Pink Floyd was the first one I read who said Hillary will probably nuke someone. She’ll need to show she’s tougher than Obama, or Bush, jr, or Bill, and the best way to do that is to nuke someone. So I agree with Pink Floyd that she’s more likely to nuke someone than any previous US president. And right now, she looks like a shoo-in.

    So I suggest everyone read Churchill’s 1924 paper, ‘Shall We Commit Suicide?’

    Because it’s looking like the answer is ‘Yes.’

    • She can’t beat Trump, barring his death.

    • By “Pink Floyd” you mean Roger and I agree. She’d drop the bomb and in the aftermath, every country with an axe to grind will use that time to settle up and “POOF”, Two suns in the sunset. Dorme bene.

    • She will not nuke anyone. Her entire life has been focused upon political advancement. First she got Bill elected President. Then she turned the focus upon her own political career.

      She was stupid as Sec. of State because she was acting as a politician the entire time. In 4 years, she visited 112 countries and flew nearly 1 million miles. That’s an average of almost 700 air miles per day and a new country every other week. That type of schedule will not allow for any focus or in-depth understanding of situations.

      If she becomes President, her focus will be upon her legacy. She will be more interested in getting her face on Mt Rushmore than nuking Russia.

  • Ted, you always crack me up! Hilarious!

    • Ted, you quote Trump’s correct evaluation of the war in Iraq but fail to quote his “solution” to the problems it caused: More War. His one radio ad said:

      “I will also quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS. We’ll make the military so strong, no one and I mean no one, will mess with us.”

      Trump just repeats applause lines, even if they are completely contradictory. But the journalists and pundits fail to point out this contradiction.

Comments are closed.