Donald Trump said this about Ben Carson, a rival for the Republican nomination :
He was a doctor, perhaps an OK doctor, by the way.
The trope usually goes by Pope’s phrase “damning with faint praise”, but I’m sure RBC readers do not need reminding that its technical Greek name in rhetoric is diasyrm.
The put-down is feeble. You can’t take away from Dr. Ben Carson his outstanding medical qualifications and stellar career. He headed the department of paediatric neurosurgery at the teaching hospital of Johns Hopkins, which likes to think of itself as the best medical school in the world, possibly with reason. It is a great tragedy that in his very last operation in Baltimore before leaving medicine for politics, Dr. Carson heroically donated to his patient half the grey cells in his cerebral cortex.
It is Donald Trump‘s pathological vanity – he is in textbooks as an example of narcissism – that makes him far more vulnerable to diasyrm. Readers are invited to supply examples. To get you going, a better jibe from Lloyd George:
[Neville Chamberlain] would make a good Lord Mayor of Birmingham in a lean year.
- Donald Trump has demonstrated far greater acumen as an investor than Bernie Madoff.
- Donald Trump is magnetically attractive to women, for six months.
- Trump’s dramatic hairdo would assure him a future as a hairstyling model for the leading trade magazine in North Korea.
- Trump regularly demonstrates his superior people-management skills in firing no-hopers on reality TV shows.
- Donald has never, ever had sex with a pig.
Entrants please remember the praise part. Straight insults do not count, however ingenious and deserved. Example: at Oxford, I once heard the young Quentin Hogg described as “a shining wit, as Dr. Spooner might have said”.