For many, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is known primarily for his basketball skills, but since his retirement from the court, he’s been flexing his sizable brain muscles. (He even has a few Jeopardy appearances to prove it.)
Writing for the Washington Post, Abdul-Jabbar recently took issue with the infuriating media-manufactured narrative that Bernie Sanders is to the “left” what Trump is to the “right” – a fringe candidate with radical ideas buoyed by populist rhetoric. The premise is so maddeningly simplistic and wrong that Abdul-Jabbar devoted an entire essay to explaining why.
Trump’s appeal is in ugly xenophobia, sexism and bullying. His base is attracted to his messages of kicking foreigners out and “making America great again” (the implications of the two messages paired is clear). On the other hand, Sanders is a gifted politician. An extremely passionate and intelligent guy whose appeal lies in advocating for economic equality and justice. He listens to critics, he challenges reporters, and fights for causes that other politicians shy away from.
As Abdul-Jabbar noted, the two men are polar opposites:
The two approaches reveal the difference between a mature, thoughtful and intelligent man, and a man whose money has made him arrogant to criticism and impervious to feeling the need to have any actual policies. Trump threatens to run an independent campaign (he won’t; that’s a negotiating ploy). Trump is a last-call candidate who looks good in the boozy dark of political inebriation.
Comparing Sanders to Trump is a massive insult, and speaks to the fact that the media is desperate to reduce the campaign to kid-sized narratives and avoid confronting real issues.
But it’s easy to see why Trump took offense to the article. Abdul-Jabbar’s reference to a “last-call candidate who looks good in the boozy dark” is actually one of the softer things he had to say about the blowhard casino mogul. (A favorite line: “One 63-year-old woman told CNN that the Republicans were out to discredit Trump: ‘They twisted what the words were, because they’re trying to destroy him.’ No one has to twist his words because what he says is twisted enough. He speaks fluent pretzel.” Brilliant!)
Rather than take the high road, Trump – who may not even know that path exists – instead sent Abdul-Jabbar a nasty handwritten note scrawled over the top of a screenshot of the offending article.
It’s hard to say that Abdul-Jabbar was expecting Trump to pull something like this, but it was a nice capstone to his earlier piece. Trump tried to bully someone into not calling him a bully. Self-awareness is not his strong suit.
Trump’s response to my piece is the best, though inelegant, support for my claims. Here again, he attacks a journalist who disagrees with him, not by disputing the points made but by hurling schoolyard insults such as “nobody likes you.” Look behind the nasty invective and you find an assault on the Constitution in the effort to silence the press through intimidation.
Well said, as always.
In his effort to attack a critic, Trump once again proves that he is incapable of behaving in a respectful manner. His “tough talk” makes him popular with a group of conservatives who get excited by watching a bully do his worst, but will ultimately spell Trump’s demise. After all, “President Trump” wouldn’t be able to personally scrawl insults to every critic in the White House. and it’s clear that he can’t help himself.