Pity the Pacific, a portion of which faces ultimate destruction should “Rocket Man” follow through on his reported threat to test a hydrogen bomb in the ocean in response to recent anti-North Korea comments from President “Dotard.”
So it goes in Toontown, where two of the planet’s most unstable state actors call each other names and spin the roulette wheel toward nukes and annihilation.
Within days of Donald Trump’s address to the United Nations General Assembly last week, in which he threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” and referred to Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man,” tensions between the two nations escalated from a game of blind man’s bluff to a drag race of nuclear chicken.
“I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire,” proclaimed Kim, who apparently relied upon a translation tool that uses archaic English vocabulary. Millions wondered, “Dotard?”
Racing to our dictionaries, we learned that the word means, more or less, an old person of diminished mental capacity. Not recently in use but popular as far back as the 14th century when Chaucer used it in The Canterbury Tales, it’s a derivative of dotage and not of the word you (and I) were thinking.
I confess to being hooked on Dotard as a nickname for Trump, which seems wonderfully apt, though admittedly more so before I knew the word’s meaning. It seems, too, that I’ve seen this movie before, a comedy in which an insane dictator named Rocket Man fires a missile at President Dotard’s power tower. Or perhaps it was a comic-book series written by “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams, who lately has become an internet sensation as a wry devil’s advocate favoring Trump.
How this unfunny comedy resolves itself is anyone’s guess, which is the problem, isn’t it? Nothing like real diplomacy or containment seems plausible in the current scenario. Indeed, one easily imagines the world going up in flames over a flipped coin or an incorrect Jeopardy answer — or an insult too far. Boom.
Kim would insist that Trump started it, as one schoolboy might say about another, with his threatening rhetoric, which Kim’s regime claims was a declaration of war. It wasn’t quite that, certainly, but Trump clearly was putting Kim on notice — and the rest of the world on tenterhooks. Imagine that the world’s destiny is in the tiny hands of a man who taunts and ridicules the enemy as if to test how much he can take. In another time of nuclear tensions, it’s hard to imagine President John F. Kennedy calling Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev “Tricky Niki” or Khrushchev responding in kind.
But the memory of nuclear war was fresher then, the effects still raw and horrifying. Even the testing of a hydrogen bomb in or over the ocean can have disastrous environmental effects and should be condemned with at least as much outrage as Trump managed to muster toward NFL players who refuse to stand during the playing of the national anthem.
As even Rocket Man probably knows, Colin Kaepernick sat and kneeled during the anthem last fall to protest police brutality. The leader of the free world and commander in chief of the most powerful military machine in human history simply couldn’t bear the image and made reference to the presently unsigned player during a red-meat political rally in Alabama.
When a player refuses to pay proper respect to the flag, Trump said, the team’s owner should say, “Get that (player) off the field right now, out, he’s fired. Fired!”
Whereupon 200 or so other players (and some coaches and owners) joined the protest, and “taking a knee” became the raised fist of a broad spectrum of Americans disgusted with the U.S. Dotard. Not only was Trump’s interference beneath the presidency, but he managed to escalate a relatively benign, personal protest into a national movement in a transparently racial way.
One may disagree with the players’ manner of protest and some, especially in the military, do. The flag and the anthem represent more than one president or one moment in history. To many, it should be a small thing to show respect for generations of Americans who have fought, suffered and died for the freedoms others enjoy, including the right to protest.
Which would have been a fairly easy thing for a president to say, if he were of sound mind and character. Since this is obviously not the case, we might all take a knee — and pray that we and the planet survive the Dotard and the Rocket Man.
Kathleen Parker’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.