Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Trump stump

Donald Trump on his favorite bible verse:

This should have been an expected "gotcha" question given that he previously asserted that the bible is his favorite book. Anytime someone is queried about something that requires rote memorization to provide an invulnerable answer, the chance for stumbling is high. I've read the entire bible and I can confidently quote three passages verbatim, chapter and verse*.
Functionally atheist and intellectually
agnostic, but no skimmer

There are plenty of people who self-identify as some iteration of Christian who have no idea that Jesus--that's what the Bible is all about, right?--doesn't make an appearance until well over halfway through the thing!

A much better question would have been something along the lines of "What is your favorite message from the bible?"

That said, Trump's response was poor. If his working formula regarding all biblical questions is to be strictly non-committal, it's a politically predictable but uncharacteristically Trumpian approach. You don't single-handedly dissipate the cloud of political correctness that is suffocating the Western world by evasion and prevarication!

The first part about spirituality being personal, etc was good but the follow up regarding Old vs New testaments had an obvious answer--if Christian, you very obviously answer "the New". It's a no-brainer.

Unless you're trying to have some fun with it, that is. If I were Trump, I would've said "I know I'm supposed to say the New testament, but part of me that really likes the Old. There are some people who need to be turned into pillars of salt." That would've really caused a tizzy fit in bathhouses across the country!

Granting that the first answer was serviceable, there are lots of ways Trump could have taken the initial question that would've been more characteristically Trumpian; that is, entertaining and frame-setting.

Here are a few that come to mind immediately, formatted as: Verse text; Trump's explanation to the inevitable "why?" follow up; Why the response works.

- Jesus wept; "It gets right to the point, just like me"; It's the shortest verse in the bible.

- Pride comes before the fall; "Despite what you might think, I'm actually a humble guy"; Delivered for full effect with that billion dollar shitgrin.

- One who puts his armor on should not boast like one who takes it off; "What I say I'm going to do is much less important than what I'm actually going to do"; Similar to above, but tapping a metaphorical verse that is less well known and thus insinuates more gravitas while still allowing Trump to create the masterful ambiguity inherent in talking about humility in a cocksure way.

- Let me die with the Philistines; "I'm more of a force than the rest of the entire Republican party is. If the GOP doesn't treat me fairly, I'll take the whole stinking party down with me"; In the words of Pat Buchanan, "The Republican establishment will understand that".

Perhaps Trump has never read a single passage, but even in a post-Christian, classicly-averse Western world, it's hard to believe a guy pushing seventy--who speaks extemporaneously as a matter of practice--can't even manage to paraphrase a line or two. Another possibility, purely speculative, is that his response might be more calculated than he's getting credit for. By appearing to be biblically illiterate, genuinely or disingenuously, he is signalling to a large swath of the population that he is no Bible-thumping theocrat who is going to govern from a scriptural perspective.

* Exodus 3:14 (the agnostic-pleasing "I am who I am"), 1 Kings 20:11 (my personal favorite, "One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off"), and John 3:16 (because it's by far the most publicly recognizable, "God so loved the world that He gave his only Son...").


Anonymous said...

You will desecrate your silver-plated idols and your gold-plated images. You will throw them away as if they were a menstrual rag, saying to them, "Get out!"


Anonymous said...

Or he's a closet atheist. Given his willingness to flip flop on other issues of importance to standard conservatives--gay marriage, abortion, healthcare--it should come as no shock that he is willing to tell a white lie here and there to ingratiate himself with the broader conservative movement.

I would have gone with Lamentations. Send the establish a little dog-whistle that I'm more than happy to precipitate my enemies' downfall.

Audacious Epigone said...

Isaiah 30:22

He could've ingratiated himself to Simpsons' fans with Matthew 21:17.

Dan said...

Quote for Trump: Revelation 19:11
"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider [me] is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war."

Epigone, you may be agnostic, but I do recommend to find a church community that suits you, if you haven't already. For the kiddies if nothing else! As you know, churchgoers as a group tend toward conscientiousness and lower dysfunction, so its a great way to have a healthy social circle for your growing family. That and Pascal's wager! (Maybe you already have one!)

Audacious Epigone said...


My wife's Episcopalian and we're members of her family's church.

The concern I have is how to take a story of humiliation--Christ's crucifixion--and turn it into a source of real world strength for my children, especially my sons.

Dan said...

There are lots of stories of manly adventure. Such as how the Israelites knocked down the walls of Jericho with a battering ram, and slaughtered the inhabitants before colonizing the place. Or how David succeeded by using his intellect and technology to defeat an army of low time-preference brutes. Or how Samson using only the breastbone of a hummingbird, manages to wipe out an entire race of savages. Who said you need to be stuck in the new testament?

Jokah Macpherson said...

"Colossians 3:18. Sorry ladies, I don't make the rules, I just try to encourage people to follow them."

Anonymous said...

I would say that a man who was tortured and executed for his cause is a hell of a lot gutsier than a pseudonymous blogger.

Audacious Epigone said...


Touche. We'll talk about Constantine's chi rho and the Templars, too.


Hah, and Megyn Kelly bled a little more.


What I'm driving at is that I want my sons to emulate Thor more than I want them to emulate Christ.