President Trump loves giving nicknames to his political rivals.
In fact, he rolled a few out Wednesday in an exclusive interview with Washington Examiner columnist Salena Zito. But here's the thing about some of these nicknames: They stink.
First, Trump went after Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the controversy surrounding her claiming Native American descent when she applied in the 1990s for a teaching positioning at Harvard Law School.
“We talk Pocahontas all the time,” the president said.
This is hands down Trump’s worst effort. First, it’s just lazy. Second, well, some say it’s problematic. Lastly, and most importantly, it’ll never not annoy me that Trump consistently gets the joke wrong. It’s supposed to be Fauxcahontas. Get it? There’s a perfectly good pun just sitting there for the taking, and he absolutely refuses to get it.
“She has made a living off of getting things because of her heritage. She’s not Indian! She is not an Indian! Her mother says she has high cheekbones, okay? And therefore, she’s an Indian and therefore she applies under minority protections,” Trump said Wednesday. “It’s ridiculous and I think it’s a disgrace.”
Warren claimed Cherokee ancestry when she applied for a gig at Harvard Law School. She has yet to provide any sort of documentation showing she is indeed of Cherokee Indian descent. The best proof that she has offered is an anecdote about “high cheekbones.” Also, she once contributed five recipes to a 1984 cookbook titled “Pow Wow Chow.” I’m not making this up.
Trump, who added he’d love particularly to run against the Massachusetts senator, is only slightly off about the “high cheekbone” thing. Warren said it was her aunt who told her about that.
The president then turned his attention to former Vice President Joe Biden, whom he now calls “One Percent Joe.”
“He has never – literally – he has always been one percent and then Obama took him off the trash heap,” said the billionaire Queens businessman. “And all of sudden he’s supposed to be good?”
The “One Percent” nickname is … not great. Trump isn’t doing an income inequality thing, though it sounds like it. He is speaking of Biden's failed presidential runs. For Trump, the idea here isn’t so much that Biden was a non-entity until Obama made him into a star (because that’s just not true). The idea here is that it’s absurd to think Biden would be a good 2020 candidate just because he was the vice president on a successful ticket. Trump's not exactly wrong. Biden’s own presidential bids were failures. The former vice president didn’t get any sort of traction in that direction until he was added to Obama’s very successful 2008 campaign. But maybe Biden's association with successful runs in 2008 and 2012 will change that.
My real beef with Trump’s 2020 riffing this week is that his nicknames stink. "One Percent Joe" sounds like something related to income inequality, which would be ridiculous coming from a guy who quite literally lives in a golden tower in New York City. "Pocahontas" is just uninspired. It also ignores a great pun that's just sitting there waiting to be used.
Then again, I also thought “Lyin’ Ted” and “Liddle Marco” weren't very good, but those sure stuck. So, what do I know?