A word of advice: if you’re about to eat a meal, avoid glancing at the stylized, clay-and-silicone renderings of a corpulent, scowling, completely naked Donald Trump which, lately, have been turning up on the streets of some of America’s major cities. Hmmm, check that — even if mealtime is hours away, keep that image from befouling your eyeballs. The five identical, caricatured figures, entitled “The Emperor Has No Balls”, are courtesy of anarchist outfit INDECLINE, which commissioned Los Angeles-based sculptor Ginger to produce the eighty-pound monstrosities. Bloated, with coarse pinkish skin scrawled with blue-vein squiggles, displaying uncovered, shapeless buttocks, a teeny-weeny penis and capped with an egg-yolk-yellow mop of hair, these productions — flagrantly — are nothing less than vicious pieces of mockery-art; aimed at humiliating the infamously braggadocious and prickly presidential candidate.
It’s like the marketing of “Hillary Clinton toilet paper” — yes, the visage of the former First Lady/Secretary of State/current Democratic White House hopeful degradingly put to toileting use. Or the much-disseminated painting of her splayed out in a leaving-little-to-the-imagination bikini. Both intended, primarily, not to challenge her White House claim, but to needlessly debase her.
These aren’t cheeky editorial cartoons or caustic newspaper columns we’re talking about here. This is gross stuff.
No denying, and it’s becoming even more undeniable by the day, Bill Clinton’s wife is a lying, megalomaniacal corruptocrat. The Reality-TV billionaire? Similarly unprincipled; a mean-spirited, power-hungry bully.
But that means what, exactly? Their respective sides ought to opt for the cruelest, crudest, most schoolyard-level tactics against their political opponents?
Indignant Trump enthusiasts, understandably, seethe at the hideous burlesquing of their guy. But are they equally put out with the gratuitous indignities levelled at Hillary? As commentator William Murchison recently jabbed, “We have a Republican nominee behaving without dignity. We have the other party and its minions’ answering without dignity or even common sense.”
Everyone involved ought to bellow: Enough!
How about this? Forcefully, unabashedly repudiating all-things-Progressive Left, all-things Hillary — without appealing to the poopey attacks. Hillary boosters’ going after The Donald and his campaign — without resorting to stomach-churning pornography. Whether of the #NeverTrump or Anyone-But-Hillary camps, can self-respecting grown-ups agree: Vulgar statuary? Repellent portraiture? Defiling bathroom accessories? None of ’em the proper way for serious people to take issue with political rivals, their ideas and their plans to move into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Granted, contrary to the from-the-hip analysis, this is not the first election cycle that’s sunk into the cesspool. “Worse things have happened in days gone by!” the indecency apologists rationalize.
And that’s probably true. The presidential election of 1800, for example, featured Thomas Jefferson’s people savaging John Adams as possessing a “hideous hermaphroditical character … neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.” The latter’s backers retorted in kind, inconceivably slurring Adam’s adversary as a “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.”
Yep, they actually made those statements.
Notorious journalist/pamphleteer James Callender smeared Adams as a warmonger, a “repulsive pedant” and “gross hypocrite” (he was actually criminally prosecuted for his assaults on the second president.) One Adams surrogate alleged a Jefferson presidency would produce a nation in which “we would see our wives and daughters the victims of legal prostitution.” Along those lines, a Connecticut newspaper warned of “murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest … openly [being] taught and practiced” in the wake of a Jeffersonian administration.
“Adams was labeled a fool … hypocrite … criminal … tyrant, while Jefferson was branded a weakling … atheist … libertine … coward.”
Still, some historians contend the efforts of Adams’ son and his adversary Andrew Jackson in 1828’s presidential square-off took negative politicking to even baser depths. That contest has been categorized “the nastiest … in history”. John Quincy’s partisans targeted the war-hero with charges of adultery and his wife with “bigamy”. From one newspaper: “General Jackson’s mother was a common prostitute … She … married a mulatto man, with whom she had several children … General Jackson is one!” Old Hickory’s campaign returned the favor, claiming Adams was a former pimp who’d procured an American girl for the Russian Czar’s use.
Then there’s the ad hominem goings-on during Abraham Lincoln’s storied career: At points, the “Railsplitter” was accused of drunkenness and called an “idiot”, ”Scythian”, “yahoo”, “unshapely man”, “the original gorilla”.
Clearly, not the best of deep-thinking humanity on display there, much of it downright scurrilous — and it all transpired decades before today’s Trump v. Clinton throw down.
To which I’ll reply: So what? Okay, some devotees behaved like uncultured ignorami back in the 1800s. Got it.
Here’s a zany idea: Let’s do better in 2016.
Isn’t it constantly, smugly drummed into our psyches that 21st-century man is better, that he has “evolved” beyond the crassness of earlier, yuckier eras? Big talk. If true, it should prove possible for modern, culturally and politically engaged men and women to enter the fray, rigorously debate, even humorously or sarcastically criticize — without taking a header into the aesthetic septic tank.
What I’m not suggesting? We ought to pretend every societal faction gets along, that we unanimously agree on everything. Goofy, toothy smiles all around! “Can’t we all just get along?” Nope. Nor that it’s somehow out-of-bounds for civic-minded souls to probe and confront elected, appointed or wanna-be officials. Any individual serving in or standing for terrifically consequential public office is open game — for examination, questioning, accountability. By all means, dissect pols’ policy prescriptions, their histories, records and public statements. But lewd invective and ribald ridicule? There’s rarely, if ever, a need for that junk to figure into a civilized populace’s interactions.
Government personnel’s and candidates’ visible misdeeds and secret hypocrisies must be laid bare; not, however, their genitals and other private parts.
Images: Modified from http://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/more-sports/naked-trump-statues-appear-in-us-cities/vp-BBvNEx2 (Screen shot); and http://www.bigmouthinc.com/products/hillary-clinton-toilet-paper/