The other day, Robert De Niro was being honored by the Gotham Awards and had a speech prepared. However, for reasons I'm not quite sure why, the speech got edited for the TelePrompter. And when De Niro got to the podium, he wasn't too pleased about that. But he had a copy of his full speech on his phone, and read the part that had been cut.
Not surprisingly, this got a lot of attention. And some of that attention got to Trump. It will not shock you to learn that Trump was not too pleased himself.
And so, being Trump, he posted the following on his social media platform. It was less eloquent than De Niro, but hey you go with what you go.
A few things stood out to me from this.
The first thing was that the last time Trump got upset at Robert De Niro he tried to slam the actor for his supposed lack of talent. Apparently, he realized that that insult didn't land very well, since this time he went with "mental midget," though decided to put that in quotes, which usually suggests it's not true, so that was a little weird, though I get it.
I'm not quite sure why Trump thinks De Niro's life is a total train wreck (let alone a train wreck at all), since he's one of the most admired actors in Hollywood history and had has had an impressively long career, still active even today.
And further, since Trump was specifically responded to a video of De Niro clearly putting more than two sentences together -- which is precisely why Trump was so upset -- that criticism is weird, too.
But what stood out most to me, which is something that hasn't been picked up by the media and should be, is that once again Trump used the slam that De Niro was nothing but an "animal." Which is language that's the same criticism levelled against Trump previously for echoing Hitler in his "vermin" Veterans Day speech, trying to dehumanize this opponents. Because when a leader portrays others he hates as less than human, it gives his supporter to door to treat them as less than human and attack them.
This shows that Trump's "vermin" speech was no one-time slip, not that most anyone thought that. But a very clear, intentional path that continues to echo Hitler. No, I do not think Trump is anything like Hitler -- who built ovens to exterminate 6 million Jews and started a war to take over the world. But I do think he's okay with admiring Hitler and, as we've seen, echoing his language.
It would have been nice if the media picked up on Trump's latest dehumanizing "animal" reference, though I understand the focus being more on him being petulant about a major movie star. But the Hitler echoes are still there. And I'm sure they'll return.
So, the media will get another chance. And, I'm sure, others, was well.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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