Joseph Sabino Mistick: Democrats need real scrapper to take on Trump
Paddy Ryan, an Irish-American boxer and one-time Pittsburgher, was featured on a 1920s poster put out by his Bronx-based promoters in hopes of attracting opponents. Ryan, a former amateur world champion who had become a prizefighter, is posed in the classic boxer’s profile — chin down, gloveless hands extended, feet widely planted.
Ryan had fought over 40 times in two years as a professional, and many of his defeated opponents are listed by name, along with a challenge to fight “anyone in the world scaling between 142 and 147 pounds.” As the poster proclaims, fans “can bank on a real old-fashioned slugging bee” when Ryan fights.
“Action is the one thing Ryan doesn’t give nuthin’ else but” was the real clincher on the poster, since most folks love a spirited match-up in which both parties give as good as they get. That seems to hold true in politics as well as in sports.
And at least for a while last week, the gloves came off in the 2020 presidential race. For a moment, it was a bare-knuckled slugfest with a Baltimore Sun editorial that pulled no punches. Donald Trump had attacked Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings and his Baltimore district, and the Sun editorial showed the world how to respond.
In another of his now predictable tweets, Trump described Cummings’ district as a “rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human” would want to live, adding his typical litany of bully-boy insults aimed at Cummings and his neighborhood. As usual, these words were delivered with the presidential megaphone that always gets attention, and they were wrong but cutting.
“Better to have a few rats than to be one” was the headline of the Sun’s response to Trump. It was a strong right hook out of nowhere and it found its mark.
Then editorial writer Peter Jensen really let it rip, writing that the editorial board “would tell the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office, the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin and the guy who insisted there are ‘good people’ among murderous neo-Nazis that he’s still not fooling most Americans into believing he’s even slightly competent in his current post.”
Contrast this with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s dispassionate testimony before Congress, which left Trump’s opponents wanting and discouraged. Mueller is a patriot, a war hero, a distinguished civil servant and a gentleman, but he fights by the Marquis of Queensberry Rules, “a code of fair play presumed to apply in any fight.”
Donald Trump fights like he is mud wrestling in a cage match. And this time, finally, when he stuck his chin out and dropped his hands, the Baltimore Sun tagged him good and followed-up with a flurry of brutal body shots.
Anyone hoping to beat Trump will have to challenge his suitability to be president, and dispute his policies and values and appointments — the stuff of position papers. But they will have to fight his bullying and schoolyard taunts, too, toe-to-toe.
And the Democrats have to find someone with a little Paddy Ryan inside for a scrap like this.
Joseph Sabino Mistick is a Pittsburgh lawyer. Reach him at misticklaw[email protected].