that the best he's got

Donald Trump caricature

Randy Newman caused an uproar years ago when he released a catchy pop ditty in which he declared that “short people got no reason to live.” The singer-songwriter insisted “Short People”was a metaphorical, anti-bigotry joke, as was his bent, but that didn’t stop a lot of short people and their families and friends from wanting to cut him off at the knees. I wonder why we haven’t heard a similar outcry over Donald Trump’s fondness for belittling “liddle” people. He’s not joking, much less engaging in metaphor.

I will confess to being a wee bit prickly about this because I am, at 5-feet-8, only an inch taller than Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, whom Trump recently dubbed “Liddle Bob” in a retaliatory tweet. Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had likened the President to a tantrum-prone brat in need of constant day care.

It wasn’t the first time Trump invoked modest height as a disparaging measure of an opponent. During the campaign for the Republican nomination, when he was still spelling like an adult, he disparaged Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as “Little Marco.”

He taunts the dictator of North Korea as “Little Rocket Man,” ignoring, perhaps at his (and our) peril, that the plump young man with the curious flattop has maintained his power with a shrewd, cut-throat mentality.

It should go without saying that physical stature is hardly a fair or reasonable indicator of any human being’s capability or worth, but hey, this is an opinion piece, so I will say it. It’s not. And not only is physical stature not a valid measure of worth, decency, intelligence or, for that matter, manliness, disparaging some guy’s height as an offensive or defensive gambit is, like impugning patriotism, a refuge of scoundrels.

I’ve known “liddle” guys of merit all my life. My dad’s youngest brother, only about 5-feet-2 and called “Shorty” by most everybody aside from his kinfolks, made the nickname his brand and parlayed it, with his natural business acumen, into car dealerships that earned him millions and put him on the boards of banks and companies all over southeast Mississippi.

In college at Southern Miss I had a classmate and friend who was so short and slight that, even upon graduation, he could be mistaken from a distance as a 10-year-old. He was one of the most popular people on campus, went on to Ole Miss law school, apprenticed under the state’s attorney general, and now heads one of the largest and most prestigious law firms in the south.

A list of the short, famous and formidable could fill a book. Many of them made such a mark they can be identified by a single name: Faulkner. King. Gandhi. Prince. Spielberg. Picasso. Beethoven.

Trump loves making up snide nicknames – Lyin’ Ted Cruz, Crooked Hilary Clinton, Failing (fill in a newspaper name). But because he’s bearishly built and of above-average height yet still insecure, defensive and mean, he is especially prone to invoke diminutive size as an insult, thereby revealing an ugly truth about his own character.

Donald J. Trump isn’t “liddle.” He’s just small.

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Image: the Donald Trump caricature was created by DonkeyHotey (flickr/CC).
Noel Holston

Noel Holston

Noel Holston, originally from Laurel, Miss., is a freelance journalist, songwriter, storyteller and actor who lives in Athens, Ga., with his wife, singer-songwriter Marty Winkler. In a previous life, he was the TV critic at Newsday in New York and, before that, a critic and feature writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and The Orlando Sentinel.