President Trump has once again called a person he is displeased with a “dog” — his derisive term of choice for anyone who badmouths him, and one we’ve criticized before.
Not because it’s ridiculously outdated — right up there with such vintage slurs as “Your mother wears combat boots,” as far as verbal jabs go.
Not because it is rude, not because it can be racist, not because it is vague. It can mean lazy, dishonest, or evil; it can mean an ugly woman, or a man who treats women shabbily.
It’s because it shows a total disrespect for, and misunderstanding of, dogs. He is seemingly oblivious to the esteem in which most of the public now holds dogs.
Dogs never were an accurate metaphor for bad behavior, lowly character, or dirtiness, or lying — and they certainly are not now. Fact of the matter is, humans lead the way in all those things.
But Trump nearly always falls back on “dog,” as he did this week when Omarosa Manigault Newman, his “Apprentice” contestant turned White House aide, went public with a book she has written about him and some tapes she secretly recorded.
Manigault Newman’s new book, “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House,” slams the president as racist and in mental decline.
That, and her release to NBC of a 2017 audio recording, prompted Trump to take to Twitter.
“When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out,” Trump wrote. “Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”
Manigualt Newman, a memorable contestant from “The Apprentice,” became a White House aide and the highest ranking black person on the White House staff before she was fired last December, reportedly for taking too much advantage of the White House car service.
In being called “a dog” by the president, she joins the ranks of Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz, NBC News journalist David Gregory, NBC’s Chuck Todd, conservative commentators Erick Erickson and Glenn Beck, Lindsey Graham, Michael Bloomberg, Marco Rubio, David Axelrod and Hillary Clinton.
This time, though, because he used it to describe a woman of color, and in light of previous derogatory remarks about African Americans — such as calling Rep. Maxine Waters “low IQ” — it’s getting a bit more of a reaction.
“The president of the United States is calling a woman of color ‘a dog.’ How dare he!” Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.) said during an interview on CNN. “He has taken this country to its knees.”
Of course, Trump should lighten up on all those people, but he should also lighten up on dogs, and realize they are not so universally hated as to be used as a term of derision. We won’t suggest he use “pig” or “rat” instead, because those animals deserve better too.
That Trump is not a fan of dogs has been clearly established. He’s the first president since William McKinley not to have one, and even though he seemed to like being photographed with winners of Westminster, his ex-wife Ivana noted in a memoir that he was definitely not a fan of dogs.
That’s fine (because we doubt most dogs would like him, either), but he still needs to let it sink in that most people do, and they don’t appreciate the term being hurled at his latest enemy.
Maybe, in the future, a better insult will become obvious — if not to him, at least to the public.
Maybe, 50 years from now, we’ll all be saying, “He’s lying like a Trump.”