by Don Hazen and the ALTERNET Editorial Staff
No doubt, there are historians who are already willing to call Donald Trump the worst president in history. It is hard to imagine how, in such a short time, an elected president could reveal how truly bad he is; how ignorant, insensitive, mendacious, dysfunctional, self-centered, and at times borderline psychotic. But all this may add up to more than just “worst president.” Trump may be the worst human being alive — the most hated person in America and throughout the world today.
How do you decide whether someone is the worst person alive? You probably include in your criteria stupid behavior, lies and cheating, lack of grace and charm, cruelty, obsession with revenge, and constantly putting other people down—the weaker the better. But it’s also important to check in on public opinion, or rather media opinion, to contextualize Trump’s horrific standing.
TV Cheat Sheet likes to keep track of all the truly unpopular people, and it has dubbed Donald Trump the “most hated person in 2017″ so far. Trump was also number one in 2016, which kind of says it all.
Trump’s most serious competition for most hated person alive is Martin Shkreli, who is high on most lists of people the public loathes. Shkreli, the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, earned the ire of millions of Americans by hiking the price for the anti-parasitic drug Daraprim by 5,000 percent. He was also arrested for fraud.
The two other people who consistently rate high on the TV Cheat Sheet hate-o-meter, perhaps offering Trump some competition, are Kim Jong-un and Justin Beiber. Kim is “North Korea’s supreme leader, a petty dictator who is more concerned with being feared on the international stage than fixing the horrid living conditions of his country’s citizens,” while Bieber has had “a string of bad actions and public controversies in recent years, including vandalism, driving under the influence, resisting arrest and taking prescription drugs.”
Others who find their way onto various most-hated lists are child molester Jared Fogel, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian (both as a couple and when measured separately), O.J. Simpson, Casey Anthony, Bernie Madoff, Michael Moore, Mel Gibson, and Tiger Woods.
And some of the worst dead people in history consistently show up on these kinds of lists: Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Osama bin Laden to name a few.
In the end, Trump triumphs as the most despised man alive today in America, and probably the world.
In order to show all the ways in which Trump earns this top spot, we offer the following colorful, often brilliant and truly depressing descriptions of Trump, composed by a range of experts and writers who have piercingly observed the U.S.’s 45th and very worst president.
We let the experts speak
- Joe Conason, AlterNet: Most Americans despise the president — a blustering, feckless lout who ignores [the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution] . . . as he undermines freedom of the press and the free exercise of religion. He has appointed a government of plutocrats, mostly mirroring his own unfitness for office, who appear determined to dismantle the institutions that have made this country humane, strong, prosperous, and respected. Along with his political associates and members of his family, he has encouraged and emboldened the very worst elements in American politics, including so-called white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and neo-Confederates, all echoing his promise to “Make America Great Again.” They cannot make America great again.
- Kali Holloway, AlterNet: Trump’s presidency is what happens when you elect a vengeful man-baby with an insatiable lust for power, a desperate need for attention, and endless reserves of contempt for the masses. Instead of accountability or transparency, ideas or innovation, you get a commander-in-chief whose most salient traits are narcissistic self-interest, hypersensitivity to criticism and a knee-jerk tendency toward abuse. Question the job Trump is doing and instead of a vigorous defense of his policies or proposals you’ll get a hastily worded middle finger. Who are you to question me, the president? Trump seems to be saying: You’re nobody.
Roger Cohen, New York Times: Donald Trump is a thug. He’s a thug who talks gibberish, and lies, and cheats, and has issues, to put it mildly, with women. He’s lazy and limited and he has an attention span of a nanosecond. He’s a “gene believer” who thinks he has “great genes” and considers the German blood, of which he is proud, “great stuff.” Mexicans and Muslims, by contrast, don’t make the cut.
He’s managed to bring penis size and menstrual cycles and the eating habits of a former Miss Universe into the debate for the highest office in the land. He’s mocked and mimicked the handicapped and the pneumonia-induced malaise of Hillary Clinton. His intellectual interests would not fill a safe-deposit box at Trump Tower. There’s more ingenuity to his hairstyle than any of his rambling pronouncements. His political hero is Vladimir Putin, who has perfected what John le Carré once called the “classic, timeless, all-Russian, bare-faced whopping lie.”
This is a man who likes to strut and gloat. He’s such a great businessman he declared a loss of $916 million on his 1995 tax return, a loss so huge the tax software program used by his accountant choked at the amount, which had to be added manually.
Roger Cohen in a later column, “Trump 2020 is no joke”: Trumpism is a form of collective gaslighting at Twitter speed. It is founded on the principle that velocity trumps veracity — perfect for the president’s manic personality. It reflects the president’s intuitive sense — through his own acute experience — of limited attention spans. It seeks to achieve dominance through a whirlwind of individually meaningless but cumulatively manipulative statements.
- Michael Arceneaux, The Root: Y’all’s president is one vacationing-ass bitch. It hasn’t even been a smooth full month into Tropicana Jong-il’s four-year term (insert laugh track here), and the man has taken every weekend off. To his credit, much like his racism, his xenophobia, his sexism, his narcissism, his creepy obsession with his daughter and his insecurities, 45 has not been shy about sharing his laziness with the world. [. . .] 1) This man is not very interested in being president other than in the title; 2) he is taking advantage of U.S. taxpayers by going to the resort he owns every single weekend; and, most important, 3) he is a lazy piece of shit.
- ABC political editor Chris Uhlmann, as described by Bronte Coy at News.com.au: ABC’s political editor Chris Uhlmann didn’t pull any punches when he delivered his wrap-up of Trump’s appearance at the conference, calling him an “uneasy, lonely, awkward figure” who was left “isolated and friendless” with “no desire and no capacity to lead the world.”
“He has a particular skill set: he’s identified an illness in Western democracies, but he has no cure for it and seems intent on exploiting it,” the veteran journalist said.
And according to Uhlmann, we all need to give up on any hope that the speeches written for Trump and delivered by the man himself are any reflection of his true thoughts.
“It’s the unscripted Trump that’s real: a man who barks out bile in 140 characters, who wastes his precious days as President at war with the West’s institutions like the judiciary, independent government agencies, and the free press.”
The reporter added: “Mr Trump is a man who craves power because it burnishes his celebrity. To be constantly talking and talked about is all that really matters . . . and there is no value placed on the meaning of words, so what is said one day can be discarded the next.”
- Rosa Brooks, Foreign Policy: In his 1973 classic, “A Random Walk Down Wall Street”, economist Burton Malkiel famously argued that “A blindfolded monkey throwing darts at a newspaper’s financial pages could select a portfolio that would do just as well as one carefully selected by experts.” . . . In our new national science experiment, we’re now embarking on a four-year, uncontrolled experiment in whether the same principle applies to governing.Just as child labor laws (for now!) prevent us from placing a 9-year-old in the Oval Office, ethical concerns about the treatment of animals prevent us from literally installing a blindfolded monkey in the White House. With Donald Trump making decisions, however, we’ve got the next best thing
- David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, in his foreword to Mark Singer’s 2016 book, Trump and Me: This was a gentleman who went on the radio to say of his former wife, “Nice tits, no brains.” His vulgarity was unstoppable and without limit. He didn’t much care if it came off a little crude. He knew you couldn’t resist listening. “You know,” he said, “it doesn’t really matter what they write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” Not only was Trump beyond insult or parody, he seemed a distinctly local product, like the smell of a Times Square subway platform in mid-August.
- Max Boot, Foreign Policy: More broadly, Trump has had a lifetime — 71 years — and access to America’s finest educational institutions (he’s a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, he never tires of reminding us) to learn things. And yet he doesn’t seem to have acquired even the most basic information that a high school student should possess.
Why does he know so little? Because he doesn’t read books or even long articles. “I never have,” he proudly told a reporter last year. “I’m always busy doing a lot.” As president, Trump’s intelligence briefings have been dumbed down, denuded of nuance, and larded with maps and pictures because he can’t be bothered to read a lot of words. He’d rather play golf.
The surest indication of how not smart Trump is that he thinks his inability or lack of interest in acquiring knowledge doesn’t matter. He said last year that he reaches the right decisions “with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I [already] had, plus the words ‘common sense,’ because I have a lot of common sense and I have a lot of business ability.”
- Eve Peyser, Vice: Trump’s impulsive recklessness, his pathological need to impress, is his defining characteristic. As New York magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi remarked on Twitter, “President Trump once read a senator’s cell phone number aloud just to fuck with him. Of course he can’t keep classified info to himself.”
We’re dealing with a man who literally thinks exercising too much is bad because your body has a finite amount of energy. He told the Economist that he invented the very common expression “priming the pump,” which would be sort of funny if he was joking. What does Russia “have” on Donald Trump? The same thing everyone does: Trump is stupid.
- Cornell West to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!: Now you get someone who’s narcissistic, which is to say out of control psychologically, who is ideologically confused, which is to say in over his head. And who does he choose? The most right-wing, reactionary zealots, which lead toward the arbitrary deployment of law, which is what neofascism is, but to reinforce corporate interest, big bank interest, and to keep track of those of us who are cast as other—peoples of color, women, Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Mexicans and so forth and so on. So this is one of the most frightening moments in the history of this very fragile empire and fragile republic.
- Jennifer Rubin, Washington PostWhatever the explanation, Trump does not evidence any greater knowledge or sophistication than he possessed when he entered office. You’d think he would have learned somethingin four months. Then again, maybe the rudimentary practices of government are simply beyond him. One need not be a psychiatrist nor an educator to see that he is incapable of performing the functions of his job — executing the laws, keeping the nation’s secrets, following routine security procedures. In short, maybe he is not compromised nor mentally ill, but simply dumb.
- Paul Wood, The Spectator: Unflattering stories in the U.S. media portray Trump as behaving like, well, Trump. The President is served Diet Coke at lunch while his guests get only water; the President gets two scoops of vanilla ice cream, his guests one. My sources say the President often fails to attend his daily intelligence briefing; when he does, his attention span is disastrously short; he’ll read only documents a page or two long which “must have pictures.” Some believe Twitter’s time stamps even show him tweeting during these briefings.
A regular visitor to the White House told me that leaks about the President shouting at his senior staff were true. “The White House is not a happy place.” Television images show Trump getting to the lectern in the West Wing to make an announcement, then forgetting to make it and walking out; Trump’s critics paint a picture of the President as rambling, confused, irritable and prone to tantrums: the madness of King Donald.
Some of those critics have an explanation for this: not porphyria — the “blue urine” disease that afflicted George III — but dementia. One of the TV news shows that so infuriates the President, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” devoted a whole segment to this. The host, Joe Scarborough, compared a “mumbling and incoherent” Trump to his aged mother who had dementia — though, he said: “We’re not diagnosing anything.”
- Michael Winship, BillMoyers.com: A tune was running through my head . . . the opening number from the 1980 musical Barnum, that glorified the master showman . . . . P.T. Barnum . . . . [T]hat show is long overdue for a revival, although it easily can be argued that there’s no need — P.T. Barnum is alive and well and living in the White House.
Donald Trump is the con man huckster of all time, and in his sway are the many descendants of those suckers who back in the day provided a steady livelihood for good old P.T. There are differences . . . . But the similarities are there for sure — each man endeavoring to create sideshows that fool both the public and the media with clever tricks that distract the eye. Barnum did it for fun and profit; Trump out of malice, a desperate need for attention and most important to the country, the desire to divert attention from the fact that in less than six months his administration has flamed out in many spectacular ways, while at the same time effectively wrought havoc with representative democracy and government.
Subverting rules and regulations, upending international agreements and offending other countries while backslapping right-wing nationalists, sending the justice system hurtling back toward the 19th century, enabling the very rich (including himself) to get much, much richer and the poor to fall through the safety net (the Trumpcare debacle) — what we’ve seen in such a short time is a brutish, conscious effort to subvert the inalienable rights both guaranteed and implied by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
- Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter of Trump’s autobiography, “The Art of the Deal”, talking to The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer last July after Trump announced his run for the presidency: “I put lipstick on a pig,” [Schwartz] said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.” If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”