The Lost Art of Losing
Donald J. Trump must cringe when he encounters the phrase lovable loser.
To be a loser is to be ineligible for affection.
Or attention, which is even more important to him.
To the mind of Trump, losing is the ultimate reputation smear; the lowest of the low; the worst possible state of existence.
Little else can be deduced, given how often Trump attempts to connote the concept of losing with anything or anyone at odds with his agenda. He frequently uses Twitter in this fashion: “losers” as insult.
170 times, give or take. [Countless times would suffice. Except someone has gone to the trouble of counting! 222, if you include retweets.]
Before this is over, that number will surely go up.
Add to it all the quips like haters and losers that festoon campaign speeches, appearances, emails, boardroom conversations, and Trump merchandise — counting his use of the word becomes a full-time job.
Keep in mind, this is his favored lexicon publicly. When his private comments are caught on tape, well — that is another discussion entirely, but it would seem “loser” is a simplified substitution for more inappropriate rhetoric, i.e. his ‘locker room’ and other demeaning speech causing such widespread agitation, to put it (very) mildly.
He has even gone on record about the duplicity of microphones themselves. Are they losers, too?
Microphones: You’re fired! ?
[No, he cannot sue me for using those words. I checked.]
Being an erudite fellow, I presume Trump uses the word lose in its original sense. After all, the Old English root losian was to “perish, destroy.”
Destroy. Now there is a word worthy of the Donald.
Besting an opponent is good, but destroying them? He lives for it. To win so big. And he is not afraid to tell you about it, in his babbling-Trump way.
My whole life is about winning. I always win. I win at golf. I’m a club champion many times at different clubs. I win at golf. I can sink the three-footer on the 18th hole when others can’t. My whole life is about winning. I don’t lose often. I almost never lose.
From military school buddies to ex-wives, anecdotal evidence inform how deeply averse he is to not winning. Not being the best. Being humiliated. Ivana says he stormed off the slopes after the first run; they were on a date and she unintentionally showed him up. At skiing.
More than anything, it would seem, he loves a good fight.
Odd, then, a man of his ilk and disposition did not manage any fighting in the great conflict of his time, Vietnam. In 2011, he said he had “a very high draft number.” (Possibly the only billionaire to ever describe 356 as a high number.) In any event, that was after four student deferments, and one medical deferment.
Last year, the explanation changed to “heel spurs.”
For his biography, he also conflated going to military school and serving in the armed forces. Other than belittling the great sacrifices of others, we are to conclude — what — exactly? This would make him a great Commander-in-Chief? The Donald?
The Donald who insulted a war hero.
The Donald who reinforced the stigma of seeking help in PTSD veterans at risk for suicide.
The Donald who wants to fire Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Presidents do not really do that, Mr. Trump.)
The Donald that tweeted “best wishes” on the memorial of September 11th. Along with a dig at losers, of course. I cannot even pretend to understand his intent. Why is he treating the biggest anti-American tragedy in history like a chance to spread good cheer? Is he Ebenezer-damned-Scrooge on Christmas morning??
I digress. The point is, he was never associated with that war in Vietnam. The one we lost, I mean.
Because what would that make him, by association? The L word?
Whew! Close call.
Dominance. That is scarcely all I can hear in his words. A lust for dominance.
He once wrote money was simply a “way to keep score.” How reassuring to the rest of us.
Take no prisoners. Cobra Kai. No Mercy.
Win or go home.
And if you are defeated? Well.
It must be rigged! All of it. The polls. The election. The media.
Our democracy itself.
In the Fox and the Grapes, once the fox realizes he cannot reach the grapevine, he simply declares the grapes to be sour, and walks away. Would that we were so lucky. Our foxy Donald would have the grapes removed, the vine poisoned, and the entire tree cut down. Then urinate on the stump.
A fox alone in the woods is one thing. A billionaire fox, with a bully pulpit and fervent, disenfranchised followers?
Small wonder his words have begun producing rancid fruit of a new kind: a woman in Iowa committed felony voter fraud by already voting for Trump twice. “I don’t know what came over me,” she said.
Ma’am? I have a pretty good guess.
However, I do not have to speculate; she made it very clear. This 55-year-old woman cast her first ballot for Trump, but feared it would magically change to a vote for Hillary Clinton.
“The polls are rigged.”
Trump supporters do not even need infer such things on their own, or read between the lines — in Colorado yesterday, he actually suggested they vote twice by “voiding” their mail-in ballots and getting new ones. The Huffington Post was generous enough to give him the benefit of the doubt, that he “appeared to be unaware” this was against state law.
Congratulations, Donald John — you created a self-fulfilling prophecy!
You no longer have to keep us “in suspense” now. We seem to have uncovered the mystery of election discrepancies.
And no, I do not want any guff about Texas. That was one woman, who later admitted she may have simply selected the wrong candidate by mistake.
Now that the FBI itself is politicized, a tighter finish is more likely for this heretofore landslide election. Trump can no longer play both sides. Either things are fair, or they are not. Due to Director Comey and his terrible — if not unlawful — timing (in revealing next-to-nothing about an ongoing investigation), Trump has stopped pouting for the moment and the battle is (re)joined.
I do not expect for one second, though, he will somehow find his _______ (fill-in-the-blank: manners, decency, propriety) in his last few days that matter.
This is no longer about politics for me. I will have the same beef with Hillary, with a celebrity, with anyone in the public eye more cautionary tale than role model. Anyone who signifies a perverse caricature of leadership.
There is a recent resurgence of pining for old ways and traditions. Nostalgia for simpler times. A bedrock sentiment of conservatism, one could argue.
To this I say, what about losing gracefully? Sportsmanship? Are we skipping that stuff? Did we not value these things, also, in 1950s post-war America?
What of respect for the competition itself? I had hoped tennis star Nick Kyrgios throwing rackets and giving up on the court was an anomaly. Maybe it was not.
Perhaps it really is a sign of the times. Perhaps it is a symptom of looking to people like Trump for the answers in life.
People too proud and stubborn to admit fault of any kind. People who construe collaboration as weakness, not wisdom.
People who think dignity has anything whatsoever to do with winning.
Alas, it is hard to be gracious in defeat if you never admit to one.
If you do, it should go something like this:
I never thought of losing, but now that it’s happened, the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.
― Muhammad Ali
Ali, the consummate champion, makes for a strange example. But these are strange days, indeed. The Yankees no longer win and the Cubs hardly lose. We dare not trust technology and the media, yet we obsess about emails that have not even been read.
I suppose there is only one thing left to say. It is directed to the Donald himself:
Best Wishes to You on Election Day.
Should you feel shame finishing in second place, sir, I hope you will not try to lay blame for that emotion on the doorstep of anyone else. Not even your late father, Fred.
That is all you.