Over the past few months I’ve been joining many of you in a common goal: trying to solve the enigma that is Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. What makes him tick? What motivates him? I just can’t figure this guy out. However, I’ve now developed a number of hypotheses, which I will detail in this series of blog posts entitled Decoding The Donald. This is my sixth hypothesis, in which I propose that he can be understood by reading one of Aesop’s Fables, and listening to a 1960s pop song.
A number of years ago, I discovered an old pop song called The Snake, by Al Wilson, which is based an Aesop Fable called The Farmer and the Viper. Originally released in 1968, the song lyrics tell the story of a kind-hearted woman who sees a half-frozen snake lying on the ground while she was walking to work. Taking pity on the animal, she decided to take it home with her and nurse it back to health. As she was cuddling the snake, it bit her. The lyrics tell the rest of the story, along with the moral:
“I saved you!” cried that woman,
“And you bit me even, why?
And you know your bite is poisonous,
And now I’m gonna die!”
“Oh shut up! Silly woman!”
Said that reptile, with a grin,
“Now you knew darn well I was snake
Before you brought me in.”
I really like this song and its story. In fact I think that it’s something that fathers should play for their teenage daughters just before they start dating.
I hadn’t thought about that tune much, until 2015, shortly after Donald Trump declared his candidacy for President of the United States. As you know, many media outlets immediately started reporting and detailing Donald Trump’s bizarre and unsavoury behaviour:
- Trump referred to Mexicans as rapists, and argued that he needed to build a wall along the Mexican border to keep them out.
- He disparaged Ted Cruz’s wife with a tweet showing an unflattering photo of her, alongside a glamour shot picture of his own wife, Melania.
- When referring to his opponents, Trump used demeaning nicknames such as Little Marco and Crooked Hillary.
- He insulted John McCain for being a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
- Trump repeatedly described talk show host Rosie O’Donnell in decidedly unflattering terms.
After several months of watching and reading these unflattering stories, I began to wonder: could Al Wilson’s song also apply to Donald Trump? Has Donald Trump ever heard this song? At 70 years of age, he would have been 22 years old when it was first released. Would his ego allow him to recognize himself in the lyrics? Hmmm…. probably not.
Then, shortly after he was chosen as the Republican nominee, something unbelievable happened. As I was watching the news, I saw a brief clip of Donald Trump actually reciting the lyrics to The Snake! I guess he was familiar with the song after all. I could scarcely believe my good fortune; this seemed almost too good to be true! I quickly dashed to my PC to search for the complete video and the proper context. I found the video on YouTube:
Predictably, Trump wasn’t referring to himself during his interpretive reading; he was comparing the snake to Syrian refugees entering the United States. Trump was vehemently against the idea of accepting any Syrian refugees, and wanted to impress upon his audience that these refugees are all inherently nefarious people who are incapable of changing their ways, just like the snake. Personally, I thought that this was a pathetic attempt to tar an entire group of people with the same brush, and didn’t think that anyone could possibly take him seriously – even an auditorium full of his supporters.
Nevertheless, this was still an incredible piece of video. The supreme irony made this clip pure comedy gold, and when I was watching it, I felt like like Seinfeld‘s Kenny Bania “That’s gold, Jerry! Gold!“. The similarity was practically jumping off the screen, and to me, reciting these lyrics was certainly a risky proposition. Did he want everybody in his audience to mock him mercilessly? Apparently what was obvious to me certainly wasn’t obvious to The Donald; he just wasn’t connecting the dots. I guess introspection isn’t his strong suit.
Sadly, this navel-gazing comparison was lost not only on his audience, but also on a sizable portion of the general public. All of the behavioural examples listed above happened early in Trump’s campaign, long before before he was chosen as the Republican nominee. Donald Trump had already revealed his character admirably. Over and over again, he made it exceedingly clear to the entire nation, exactly what kind of person he is, and made it easy for us to predict what we might expect of him in the future. We all knew this, yet was still “taken in”, and chosen over all other contenders as the person best suited to represent the Republican party.
It doesn’t get any plainer than this video. Behold what is right in front of you. Here is Donald Trump on stage, reciting an allegorical tale that essentially describes himself. He thinks he’s warning you about the danger of accepting Syrian refugees (he’s not – it’s a ridiculous argument), but he’s inadvertently telling the voting public what kind of person he is, and exactly what they can expect from him in the future, while remaining blissfully unaware of this affinity himself.
The next move is yours, America – don’t rely on hindsight, and don’t kick yourself for the next four years because you didn’t recognize this in time…