Monday, June 25, 2018
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The martyrdom of the Donald

10:46 PM May 16, 2017


NEW YORK—In an interview with The Economist some days ago, the Donald claimed to have invented the phrase “to prime the pump.”

He asked the editors if they had ever heard of the phrase, explaining what it meant and going on to state that “I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good.”  He is of course utterly and completely mistaken. That man simply cannot be trusted.


It was I who made up this memorable phrase. You read that right: I invented “priming the pump.” It must have been back in the days when I was still driving a car. I would fill ‘er up at a gas station and not only prime the pump but say those very words. I do believe that other drivers, after hearing me utter this phrase then and on other occasions, did repeat it, and quickly did it spread.

But my modesty, only now just shed but only for the moment in the interest of truth, would not allow me to take credit for what in all honesty was a pretty ordinary phrase, appropriated by economists, practitioners of a dismal science. No poetic lilt, no zing to it, no knockout punch. It may mean something, but it ain’t got that swing.

Besides, I had fashioned other more memorable phrases, such as “Break a leg!” and “You’re pulling my leg!” Both uttered in the span of a single afternoon, and if I recall correctly, the latter popped into my head before the former, and for a very good reason. Pulling too hard can result in one’s leg being broken. One can see how the imaginative rethinking of a limb being tugged at is also an example of, ahem, the pump being primed.

But again, the same spirit of modesty prevented me from lifting up my own chair, as the saying goes in Manila (no, I did not invent that, though I wish I did; it was my neighbor). However, with Trump’s very public disinformation concerning the priming of the pump, I thought it my obligation, in service of the greater good, to finally come clean and claim ownership.


President Donald Trump claims he originated the phrase “prime the pump.” ASSOCIATED PRESS

The thought does occur to me, though, that the Donald was simply playing the gentlemen from The Economist, seeing if they might perhaps see his claim as a kind of satire, that in fact, contrary to all that has been written about him, he does have a sense of self-deprecation. Huge, beautiful, a really great sense of putting himself down.

Who would have thought the Donald does have a sense of humility after all? By ranging through the halls of the Twitterverse and launching tirade after tirade against any and all who skewer him on the air or in print, he so generously lends himself to ever more “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” earning points on martyrdom’s scale.

And why would he fire the FBI director as that agency was pushing forward with investigating possible ties—and collusion—between the White House and Russia? Simple: for more ridicule, gasps of unbelief, and a growing sense that the man is unhinged. All this fuels his thirst for even more humiliation, a thirst so phenomenal it shows no signs of being slaked.

In his heart of hearts he must be eternally grateful to Alec Baldwin and Saturday Night Live, Stephen Colbert, Seth Myers, and others of that ilk for being eager apprentices to his campaign for more and more humiliation. Or, in a word, masochism.


Their barbs are his hair shirts, the putdowns by the media make up his bed of nails. And, should impeachment happen, that will be his very own crucifixion—the apogee of humiliation.

As for his devoted followers, surely they must see how their man willingly suffers being flayed by public opinion in his quest for martyrdom. Such a gesture should appeal particularly to all Filipinos who cast their votes for him. Good Christians all, they can now bask in his glory and accept as encomia what others see as ridicule and contempt. To them, truly, ignorance is bliss. 

Copyright L.H. Francia 2017

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