I am no fan of fat shamers. I regard such people as particularly loathsome who find profit in mocking the difficulties of others who have never harmed them. (It’s a fascinating bit of statistical trivia that many anonymous online fat shamers are themselves obese.)
The historic joke that Britain’s George IV was also known to the press of the time as “the Prince of Whales,” owing to the fact that he was hopelessly addicted to food and drink and, consequently, morbidly obese, has not aged well. George served as Prince Regent in the early years of the nineteenth century while his father descended into madness, then as King in his own right from 1830 until his death in 1840. Whatever personal demons drove George to gluttony can only be guessed at.
Even so it’s noteworthy that America’s second most obese president should pay accidental reference to Britain’s most obese King in a tweet. Proving, I suppose, that sooner or later everything that has ever been written or said will be written again if you set loose a million monkeys on a million typewriters for a million years. Or Donald Trump all by himself.
Thursday Trump tweeted: “I meet and talk to ‘foreign governments’ every day. I just met with the Queen of England (U.K.), the Prince of Whales, the P.M. of the United Kingdom, the P.M. of Ireland, the President of France and the President of Poland. We talked about ‘Everything!’ Should I immediately call the FBI about those calls and meetings? How ridiculous!”
Trump’s misspelling of “Wales” wasn’t the only oddity. He’s clearly no wiser about the difference between England and the United Kingdom. But, worst of all, the overall message of the tweet comprises one of his most asinine and juvenile syllogisms that even he has ever written.
I cannot read Trump’s inherent complaint implied in the tweet without hearing in its tone the whine of a truculent teenager. But there’s also in it a kind of bitter grievance against the very thing he was allegedly elected to do. For example, well-represented in the list of things you do not want to overhear your airline pilot say is, no doubt, “What in the hell am I supposed to do with all those dials and switches?”
Trump ought to know the difference between what should be reported to the FBI and what should not. He should not be tweeting angry moans about how hard it is to tell the difference. Telling the difference is his job. That’s what leaders do. That’s why Americans usually elect leaders.
I’m not president of the United States, but if I were and Her Majesty the Queen told me that Joe Biden couldn’t hold his champagne, I would chuckle politely, make a joke at my own expense (“Now you know why I never drink, ma’am”) and continue with my dinner. Nor would I ever use it in a political campaign. If the Russians, on the other hand, came to me in secret with “dirt” on Joe Biden, I’d tell them where they can stick it, and immediately report it to the FBI. I don’t ordinarily give advice to the president of the United States. I don’t ordinarily have to. But if you’re reading this, Donald, do you finally get difference?
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.