Cross posted here.
If there’s one word you want to avoid saying around Tony Blair, it’s “poodle.” Profanities won’t bother him. But when you’re walking through a dog park with Britain’s former Prime Minister, you don’t even want to casually remark, “hey, that lady has a nice poodle.” The word is quite triggering.
This blog post is dedicated to one question: what kind of word can we come up with to trigger Trump this way?
First, background for those of you who weren’t reading the news 10 years ago: after the United Kingdom joined American forces opposing Saddam Hussein in 2003, and after the war began to lack for rationale, the British tabloid press eviscerated the country’s leader, Tony Blair, for his utter credulity and naivete in doing whatever President George W. Bush asked him to do. Blair became known as “Bush’s poodle,” and the name stuck. In fact, the aspersion may have had a lot to do with Blair’s Labour Party’s losses in the next several national elections.
(Bush did Blair no favors by saying Blair’s work in Iraq was “dogged.” Ah, George, never thought we’d miss you this much.)
Was all the poodle-taunting fair? No. Have you ever hung out with a poodle? Poodles are smart animals! I guess “Chihuahua” would have sounded vaguely racist.
Now, background for those of you who haven’t been reading the news for the last 10 days: Trump has been behaving as Putin’s poodle. Well, perhaps that’s not fair. Blair used to make a better case for Bush’s policies than Bush could. I’m not sure that Trump has made a better case for Putin’s policies than Putin has. What Trump does do is leap to Putin’s defense at the slightest provocation. If Putin is accused of invading Crimea, Trump says it never happened. If Russians are accused by the CIA of cyber-hacking our election, Trump says – based on nothing – that Russia didn’t do it.
As a dog-owner I wish my pooch was this loyal and unthinking. He’d be picking up his own poop.
Of course I sound like I’m joking, but this is deadly serious. Comment sections of news sites regularly say “the election is over, get over it, stop making excuses,” and on one level that’s true (even if half of those commenters are paid by Russian autocrats). Trump might well have won without Russian help. Even if he wouldn’t have, that doesn’t prove his complicity or the complicity of anyone working for him (though Trump did publicly solicit Russian espionage).
But if Trump is Putin’s poodle, “get over it” doesn’t wash with me because the past isn’t half as scary as the future. That’s true for at least two reasons. The first is that if American democracy proves itself hackable, every other country will want a piece of that action. The second reason is more immediate: on January 20, Trump could hand over to Putin every single one of our national security secrets – the locations of our every missile and aircraft carrier, the many weapons (biological, virus-based, plutonium-based, and otherwise) we’ve been developing, our deals with every other country…there’s no “reset” on that, ever. Trump could be out of office in four years. If Putin learns every one of our national secrets, we can’t fix that damage in forty years.
I know, I know, I’m paranoid, right? Right, but just try this thought experiment: if Trump were a modern Manchurian Candidate for Putin, how exactly would he be acting differently than he’s acting now?
Since I’m writing this, I’ll answer that. There is one way in which Trump doesn’t resemble a perfect Putin-bot: he’s thin-skinned. He can be goaded, as he was by “Hamilton” and Vanity Fair. And who knows, even if Trump does owe Putin an unthinkable amount of dollars (Trump still won’t tell us who he owes what, which is getting more suspicious every day), maybe his sycophantic behavior might change if we work on his fragile ego. I realize “orange Cheeto-face” hasn’t been doing much, but that’s not calling him a lesser man. When Marco Rubio insulted Trump’s anatomy, Trump leapt to a debate stage to explain that despite his hand size, “there’s no problem down there.” And when it comes to Trump debasing the previous standards of Presidents, there’s no problem down there either.
So, that brings us back to the point of this piece: what’s a good way to refer to Trump’s poodle-osity?
Besides the fact that poodles are smart, Blair kinda owns that name. So…what else?
Affenpinscher or Bichon Frise could be lovely.
I like Apparatchik, because it’s Russian, but that one might go over Trump’s head.
I like Imperialist Stooge, because Trump’s behavior has been Stoogier than Iggy: making excuses through bald-faced lies that no one could possible defend. Trump has mimicked the modus operandi for imperialist stooges all over the world; I could name some of them, but because almost none of them have been Caucasian, I would sound racist. Recently, some people have proven they don’t understand why Fidel Castro appealed to so many people in Latin America and around the world. One reason is that whatever Castro’s faults, he didn’t stand up in front of his people and exonerate powerful leaders without any evidence whatsoever. Castro didn’t tell easily disproven, self-serving lies (partly because he didn’t do press conferences). Anyway, where was I?
Puppet is okay, especially because Trump already proved he hates the term, as when he brilliantly rejoinded Hillary Clinton with a “You’re the puppet!” I guess it’s fine, just seems like we could try other options.
Minion isn’t bad, especially since the movie earned more than a billion dollars worldwide, which is probably the approximate amount Trump owes.
Fall Guy. Lackey. Toady. Turkey. Turnkey. Flunky. Funky Flunky. Sap. Sucker. Sapsucker. Parasite. Patsy. Pawn. Pigeon. Pushover. Tool. Fool. Mark. Mug. Water-carrier. Schmuck. Duck. Dupe. Doormat. Doily. Drudge. Underling. Valet. Factotum. Groupie. Backscratcher. Backslapper. Bootlicker. Brownnoser. Bottomfeeder.
Or just in case we’re worried Trump won’t know what any of these mean, there’s always the traditional Kiss-Ass.
Let’s think about it over the holidays, then decide on January 1st. Until then, there’s always the four-word chant for your rallies:
Trump Trump, Putin’s Chump!