Andrew Sullivan has wrung a lot of blog mileage from his myriad awards for stupid/extreme statements found in the news. In that spirit, as well as an effort to
keep my sanity extract some humor from the 2012 presidential campaign, I hereby announce the Donald Trump Award for Assertive Ignorance in World Politics -- known on the street as the Trumpies.
Named in honor of the erstwhile presidential candidate who really likes to name things after himself, the award can be earned by either a presidential candidate or one of his/her foreign policy minions. To score a Trumpie nomination, the person must satisfy two criteria during a single statement or exchange. First, the nominee must display a breathtaking ignorance of some bailiwick of American foreign policy or world politics. Second, the nominee must do this while simultaneously demonstrating supreme confidence in the factual and/or analytical rightness of their statement.
This second criteria is important. I won't begrudge a candidate who demonstrates uncertainty or befuddlement on a foreign policy question. World politics is a vast canvass, and as I've said before, expecting a candidate to demonstrate foreign policy omniscence is a fool's errand. Similarly, I'm not looking for your garden-variety gaffe or misstatement that just indicates a candidate is sleep-deprived. No, the key here is that a candidate is both too ignorant and too proud to admit or even recognize their own ignorance.
During the brief, shining comedy moment that was Trump's proto-campaign, he managed to demonstrate this kind of cocksure ignorance on multiple occasions. With his decision to bow out of the race, however, the field for the Trumpies is now wide open and your humble blogger will accept nominations from readers and commenters. The actual award, of course, will not be announced until after Election Day 2012.
To get the ball rolling, the first Trumpie nomination goes to GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, for his comments on Israel and Palestine on Fox News Sunday:
Now, let's be clear about what's so funny about this clip. Cain's first answer, on offering "nothing" to the Palestinians to make peace, is not what's funny. It's reckless and extreme, but Cain's position possesses some internal logical coherence. It's the combination of this answer with his observation that the Palestinian "right of return" should be negotiated that makes the clip so funny (get a Palestinian negotiator good and liquored up -- hell, just have hummus with them -- and they'll acknpwledge that the right of return is one of the things that they'll have to give up in any two-state peace deal). The combination of these two positions boils down to Cain favoring a single state encompassing both Israelis and Palestinians, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't favor that.
The gaffe was significant enough for the Cain campaign to issue a "clarification of these remarks," which is always a good indicator that a Trumpie nomination has been scored.
Congratulations to Mr. Cain for the inaugural Trumpie nomination! The foreign policy analyst in me hopes that these nominations will be few and far between. The politics junkie, surveying the prospective field, is confident that there will be many more nominations to come over the next 18 months.
The field is now open for nominations -- submit yours in the comments or via-e-mail, and if the strict Trumpie criteria are met, you will see it in a future blog post.
UPDATE: Oh, if Trump re-enters the race, there's gonna be a lot of nominations. Bravo to the Donald for trying to preserve the quality of his brand.
ANOTHER UPDATE: See if Cain had simply admitted to Wallace that he didn't know what "the right to return" meant, he'd have avoided the Trumpie nomination. Instead, he admitted it to Sean Hannity the next day.
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.