The Empty Vessel Makes the Loudest Sound

In a November 2, 2017 CounterPunch Posting and under the title “What’s in a Name? An Invitation to CounterPunchers,” I invited the readers to submit their favorite “nicknames” for as many former and current politicians/public figures as they wished. I also promised to collate the readers’ contributions and to share them with CounterPunchers.

As responses from across the United States, including far-away places such as Central Europe, Australia, Scandinavia, Canada, Tunisia, and Morocco trickled in over a period of five weeks, I began to harvest and inventory   the plethora of mostly newly minted  nomenclatures, most of which have,  since late 2016, appeared in CounterPunch and other online blogs and publications.

By far, over 90% of the responses include a variegated panoply of nomenclature about Donald Trump, his policies, and his many irksome personal habits, utterances, appearance, and foibles. And, to the best of my recollection, there’s not been a single modern-day U.S. President (since Eisenhower and as far back as memory serves) who’s acquired a vast array of colorful, derogatory, and well-earned lexicon of unflattering monikers.

Thus, I began to record all the names and miscellany descriptions and attributes ascribed to politicians/public figures from as many sources as possible. Recorded on notepads, loose paper, and paper destined to the recycling bin, including bills and Christmas card envelopes we received, the copious lists spouted legs of their own and branched out into a potpourri of abundantly witty and pithy apropos observations and comments on what is unfolding on the current national theatrical stage, a bizarre theater of the absurd, better known as the Trump Presidency. I’d like to think of what follows as a pastiche en la nouvelle vague de la comédie satirique.

In his outstanding January 19, 2018 CP posting (How Trump Killed the Asterisk), Christopher Brauchli aptly suggests that Donald Trump’s recent S*** House  reference to  Africa’s 57  countries has not only changed public discourse on racism, but it has also changed the manner in which racist and off color rants are explicitly printed/spoken in the media, especially in print and video media.

All off color terms listed hereinafter will therefore adhere to my use of Asterisks.  And this ain’t no prudish sentiment on my part; rather, I feel very strongly that we must not allow our public discourse to be dictated by one who’s not outgrown pubescent, infantile and puerile behavior.

Furthermore, I find succor in Alfred W. McCoy’s characterization of Donald Trump’s assaults and destruction of the threads that keep the  civil and moral fabrics of the human community from corrosive disintegration.  (To Wit: Trump As the Termite-in-Chief Boring Away at Global American Influence, TomDispatch, January 18, 2018.)  And Ed Mazza’s, 1/18/2018 HuffPost observations (“more than 2000 false or misleading claims in his 355 days in office”)  are but the milieu in which the nation’s capital has been transformed into a swamp akin to the Greek’s mythological netherworld  in which Charon Donald Trump and his cabinet are ferrying this nation and the world down The Donald’s version of the River Styx where Lethe, Hypnos, Phlegethon, Cocytus, Centaurs, Gorgons, Hydra, Chimera and Thanatos reside, a kind of submerged Acheronian world  in which fire and fury (verbal and otherwise) are the Ferryman-in-Chief’s obnoxious weapons.

Donald Trump’s juvenile schoolyard penchant for name-calling is legend. Witness the following:  Low Energy Jeb;  Lyin’ Ted;  Pocahontas, Sneaky Diane;  Liddle Bob Corker;  Crooked Hillary;  Little Marco;  Dicky Durban;  Sloppy Steve;  Rocket Man or Little Rocket Man;  Cryin’ Chuck Schumer;  Al Frankenstein;  Jeff Flakey;  Fake News;   Failing@nytimes  are but a few of the more notable ones. And, to appeal to his base (a phrase popular with pundits),  Trump reserves his worst diatribes for non-white non-European stock immigrants and ethnic groups, including Moslems (terrorists), Africans (lazy, criminal, drug addicts, backwards), Mexicans and Latinos (rapists, bad hombres, drug pushers, criminals, illegals, they steal jobs), and Asians.

Even though Donald Trump’s mal bouche and xenophobic diatribes go way back to the 1970’s (and perhaps even to his youth), it was not until the 2015 Republican primaries that the media began to scrutinize Trump’s words and actions more carefully. And, as the primary campaign’s slugging reached a crescendo in 2016, Trump’s ruthless whacking was to serve him well with the deplorables and disaffected in America. Trump’s walloping of his Republican opponents and Hillary Clinton became the oxygen of the belting Trump-Hate-Engine.  Anyone who crossed him was summarily executed in the crosshairs of his mean-spirited, caustic, and vengeful rhetoric.

The misogynist he is, his calculating and heinous attacks on women were nothing short of evil.  Rosie O’Donnell and Carly Fiorina were judged solely by their physical appearance. “Look at that face [Fiorina],” uttered the Donald.

The media lied; of course he didn’t say that, shame on us for believing the fake media.

During the first August 6, 2015 Republican presidential debate Megyn Kelly asked Trump the following: “You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.”  In his August 8, 2015 CNN interview, Trump argued that: “She [Kelly] gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever. In my opinion, she was off base.”  The following Saturday morning Trump tweeted that he was referring to blood from Kelly’s nose.

The media lied; of course he was referring to Kelly’s nose, shame on us for believing the fake media.

Maureen Down assailed the would-be Predator-in-Chief with the following exhortation:  Megyn Kelly had become “Trump’s chew toy.”  This is the same man who, on a Howard Stern show, bragged that his daughter Ivanka is a beautiful “piece of a**.” He would also brag about dating girls as young as his own daughter. That he would, according to “In Touch,” tell porn star Stormy Daniels that  he told her “once that [she] was someone to be reckoned with,  beautiful,  smart,  just like his daughter,” is perhaps the most bizarre statement  a man could make about his own daughter.

To suppress the storm about his alleged Stormy Daniels affair, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen created a bogus Delaware LLC and deposited $130 thousand dollars’ worth of hush hush gratuity. Just helping a hard working (buxom Honey Bunch) poor college coed pay for her schooling. Eh!

The media lies, of course none of the above happened.

What’s that about doing unto others?  Only this week Jane Fonda became Megyn Kelly’s “chew toy.”

In my opinion the lowest point of the 2016 presidential race came about on November 26, 2015, the day Donald Trump exposed his vicious, heartless, and ruthless character. Standing in front of a large, cheering, and adulating crowd, the Donald delivered a vilely wicked mocking of reporter Serge Kovaleski, a brave soul who’s not allowed his physical affliction and physical malformation to keep him from bravely venturing into the world to earn an honest day’s pay in the service of truth and his fellow citizens.

And it was precisely these many aberrant and heartless episodes that earned The Donald the label Humiliator-in-Chief.

On that same day Judgement was served on the Donald, for his name will be inscribed in gargantuan script (a script  much bigger than his ostentatiously flamboyant signature) in the ledger of The Book of Life as a heartless, callous, and morbidly wretched one.

Serge, wherever you are, you stand a giant among giants, a prince among princess, a hero among heroes.

And, of course, the media lied, Donald Trump has never engaged in such mockery.

And in like manner the media lied about the P**** Grabbing comment, a comment which, of course, The Donald never made.


The paucity of monikers received and ascribed to former presidents and or public officials/public figures has taken me by surprise, and I did not wish to delve into anything outside the parameters of current times. Furthermore, no attempt was made to alter the spelling.

Harry Truman: Haberdasher.

Richard Nixon: Tricky Dick.

Reagan & Gorbachev: Bird of Bad Omen (Arabic Ghurab al-Shu’n)

Bush 42: Sr.; Daddy-o

Bill Clinton: Slick Willie; Teflon Bill; Billy Boy; Zip Zip Bill; Zipper-Happy Bill;  Cigar Fetish Bill;  William Jefferson Weinstein; Blue Dress Fetish; Forgot to Dry Clean Bill;  White House Pizza and Cigar Break-er.

Hillary Clinton:  Slickerry; Weaponized False Information; Wall Street War Hawk;  Arch Elitist;  “Queen of Chaos”(credit Diana Johnstone);  Libya Bomber;  Arch Elitist;  War Hawk;   Attila the Hen.  Hillary, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Vicky Nuland and Mad Madeleine Albright, are the Brunhilde and The Valkyries.

Bush Jr:  The Decider;  Georgie Porgy;  Mission Un-Accomplisher; Intellectual Lightweight;  Bush Junior;  Bush the Lessor; Weapon of Mass Destruction.

Others: Bennie Netanyahoo and  Phony Blair.

For an 82 year old male responder MSNBC is MSDNC, and his least favorite character is “Rachel Mildew, MSDNC’s Infotainer.”  

Obama:  Neo-Liberal Drone King;   Wall Street Bail-Out Champion; Single Payer;  Deep-Sixer; Libya Bomber; Offshore Drilling and Fracking Fan;  Loser; President No, We Couldn’t;  President Exceptionalist; President Tuesday Morning Kill List; President No, We Didn’t; Oil Can Barry; Obomber; O’Bummer; The Fraud; Confidence Man; Former Citi Group Von Drone; Wall Street Bagman; Multicultural Imperialist; Neoliberal Drone King; Wall Street Bailout Champion; Single Payer.


By far, Donald Trump has garnered the most colorful, creative, oblique, and unflattering monikers, perhaps a dubious distinction never attained by any of his predecessors in the Republic’s  242 year history.  Because there have been far too many creative prénoms fabricuactor, I will only list two names: John Street and Dr. Susan Block’s outstanding CP postings were the mother lode of nomenclature. Most of the listing draws on Trump’s use of hyperbole; his tendency to use and repeat superlatives; his obsessive reduction of all domestic and foreign matters (even people) to dollars and cents; his obsessive braggadocio, and especially matters pertaining to size (brain, hands, nuclear buttons, military, golf, his hair, his looks, his accomplishments, bank accounts, and especially the size of the adulating crowds).

Presented in no particular or thematic order, the following have been garnered from myriad sources:  Trompeur; Malevolent Gangster; Gangster Capitalist; Attention-Grabbing Prez; Bully-in-Chief; Head Droner; Prez Phenomenal;  Malignant One; Fire and Fury Fellow;  Von Drone; Wall Street Bagman;  Multicultural Imperialist; Furious Hombre; Trump á la Française Globe Rotter;  Trotter; Stable Genius; Orange-Tinged; Awful One; Dimwit; Nutter; Donald Dingleberry; Arch-Narcissist; Weaponized El Donito; King of Versailles; Awful One; Doncula Von Trumpenstein; Self-Confessed P****-Grabber; Reneging P**** Grabber;  The Great Bumpkin; Rump; The Great Wretch; TT (Toddler Trump); Father of all Bombs; Big Orange Boss; Malignant Quasi-Fascist; Tumor; Gangster-Capitalist; Le Grande Orange; Proto Fascist; Orange Swindler; Dictator-in-Perpetuity; Artful Dodger; Master Showman; Self-Promoter; Distractor-in-Chief. 

Further monikers include: Flym Flammed Prez; Non Compos Mentis; Trump the Realtor; Christo-Fascist; Rough Beast; Boss Tweet; Prince Donald; Creamsicle Vulgarian; FFF (Fire & Fury Fellow); Slanderer-in-Chief; Distractor-in-Chief; All About Me  Prez ; Racist-in-Chief; “Cadet Bone Spur” & Five-Deferment Draft Dodger” (credit Representative Tammy Duckworth, Dem, Illinois, and so was Clinton); Fool; White House Fool; World’s Most Powerful Fool; Bulldozer; Foul-Mouthed; Hater-in-ChiefStreetfighter (credit Senator Lindsey Graham, CNN interview, “he is a streetfighter.”)  Arch-Narcissistic; Twitter-Weaponized El Donito; King of Versailles; Donald Dingleberry;  The Orange Peril;  Der Trumpermann; Racialist.

Further monikers include: The Orange Scylla; Tangerine-tinged Terror of Tweet Town; AMERICA’S Clown-in-Chief; TTT (Temper Tantrum Trump); Temper Tantrum Prez; Rump; Child Trump; Narcissistic Ape; Petro-Capitalist; ICP (Insane Clown President); Climate Denier; Deceiver-in-Chief; Smug; Bloated Face Prez; Malignant One; Malignant Narcissistic Dotard; Moron; Real Estate Magnet; Jackass; Agent Orange; President Phenomenal; Bully-in- Chief; Furious Hombre; “Trump á la Française”;  Orange Menace; Trumplethinskin; Great Orange Fit Pitcher; Insane Clown President; Bigger Hands Prez; Bigger Button Prez;  Hair Fuhrer; Dotard-in-Chief; President Wall; Make Me Great Again; I am a Genius;  Stable Dotard; Stable Genius; Offshore Drilling and Fracking Fan; Orange-Tinged Awful One; The Destabilizer; Trash; Super Freak; Clownish Predator; Racist; Apocalyptic Evangelical.

For a one-stop compendium of monikers and a delightfully entertaining read, I refer the reader to Dr. Susan Block’s “#GoBonobos in 2018” (CP 12/29/2017).  Block describes Trump as “the polar opposite of Bonobos. He is an “Unbonobo”   president because he is a  “cruel, insensitive, narcissistic, nationalistic, sexist, mendacious, murderous, warmongering .. Nazi-loving”  kind of  “Unbonobo Presidunce,” and a   “Baboon-in-Chief  (with apologies to Baboons).”  He is an   ’”Unpresidented Presidunce ”  [who is] commandeering the Trump Train, … [and he is] engaged in [a]  perma war economy and poison belching industries. He is Doncula Von Trumpenstein, a self-confessed p**** grabber.”   And he is “Teflon Don … a tasteless gourmand who moved the Trump crime family in the White House. [His] Corporate overlords are his coconspirators;” and  “Trumpus, the Great Celebrity Sexual Harassment Outing and Mass Murderers gone Wild  [is] a way of life.”  His associates are “Trumpanzees,” and he is  “the Snickerer-in-Chief;,” the  “Über sycophant”  leading the world  “to a Trumpageddon.”

In addition to the many colorful monikers ascribed to Trump and as a result of his election, Trump, full of Bombastic Tumposity  and Trumpeting Blatancy is leading the Republikkans in a Trumplandia, where Roy Moore is Roy NoMore and Steve Bannon, a Proto Fascist is Jobless Steve and  a “ swamp dwelling predator.”    In this new Kakistocracy,  Trumpsters and Trumpians are going to  make America Sick  and Dumb again (Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos). And “the idiot surrounded by clowns” (by unnamed White House aide) in the aftermath of “his election Electoral Dysfunction.”  He supported the Charlottesville Supremacist march in the ”Annual Bullies and Toadies TIKI Walk.”  U.S. citizens (Dollar Store Kazoos & Intolerables) are led by the Washington establishment (The Charybdis),  and politicians (Deodorized Dignitaries)  are leading the Trumpists  to Engineered Slaughter and perma war economy overseen by Rex Tillerson, America’s corporate Rexon T, and the High Dollar Benefactors.

The abundance of unflattering Donald Trump nomenclature coined since 2015 is strikingly extraordinary in its limitless creativity. While language aficionados might, with much trepidation, look forward to three more years of DonCula behavior, many in America and around the world will be delighted to stop hearing the clangor from the Empty Vessel-in-Chief.

Plato’s aphorism sums it well:  “The empty vessel makes the loudest sound so they that have the least wit are the greatest blabbers.”

Raouf J. Halaby is a Professor Emeritus of English and Art. He is a writer, photographer, sculptor, an avid gardener, and a peace activist.