The Trump self-abuse fugue

The Trump self-abuse fugue


norman lebrecht

September 14, 2018


  • Frankster says:

    Finally, the arts are getting involved. There has been little of that so far.

  • Helen Berners says:


  • Augustine says:

    In the United States, the term is understood, but rarely used, and then more in a way suggesting the target is an idiot.

    • Tom says:

      I’d say that “wanker” is not even understood by most Americans. We don’t use it, we don’t know what it means. We want to like this piece, but it doesn’t make much sense to us because it’s British slang. Extremely poor word choice. Over and over again.

  • CYM says:

    WTF !!!? (What’s The Fugue !)

  • Doug says:

    For those of you with a more refined sense of musical style, enjoy. I know, I know…raaaacist!

    • Sue says:

      That is revolting and insulting. I normally criticize the loony left, but this goes too far. Sure Obama did nothing much except make speeches but this is an appalling piece. Is that the best argument you can make? You’re no better than those with Trump Derangement Syndrome.

      What worries me about the US is its propensity for division; they’ve already had one civil war. Overturning a democratically elected President from the very hour of his election through fair means or foul will surely bring the American left to the brink. Let the fools find this out instead of contributing vile material to support a political position.

      PS: No matter how bad Trump appears to you the thought of violence on the streets and civil unrest is a worse scenario. And a considerable amount of soul-searching and self-awareness needed from Democrat supports (not their strong suit).

      • Herr Doktor says:

        Dear Boris…er, Sue:

        You’re taking valuable time away from Jordan Peterson videos to share with us your usual polemics. Please, I know you’re trying to help us all, and of course we all greatly value everything you say. But I am much more concerned for your welfare and well-being, and REALLY do not feel comfortable that you’re taking time away from limiting–er, I mean expanding, your horizons watching Jordan Peterson videos.

        You’ve unselfishly given so much of yourself to us. But now you owe it to yourself to return to your Jordan Peterson videos and the wisdom they provide, and to not worry about the rest of us. The more time you spend listening to Jordan, the better you’ll be.

        • Sue says:

          Herr Doktor (or should I say Fuhrer),

          You are so frightened to learn anything new that I hardly know how to respond. Stick to your ideology; it’s much more comfortable there and you certainly won’t be in any danger of getting an education.

          I’m “sadly” learning new things all the time – especially the danger of anti-democratic behaviour in the USA from a side of politics which doesn’t like the fact it wasn’t elected. That IS scary.

          • Quodlibet says:

            “You are so frightened to learn anything new that I hardly know how to respond.”

            Pot, meet kettle.

      • Petros Linardos says:

        I suggest you check some facts about Obama:
        – “Under the [Affordable Healthcare Act], the number of uninsured nonelderly Americans decreased from 44 million in 2013 (the year before the major coverage provisions went into effect) to less than 28 million as of the end of 2016.
        – Eight years of continuous economic growth.

        The left you are imagining has little to do with the left I see here. And I live in an area that supports Democrats by a wide margin.

        • jaypee says:

          Since when are the democrats “left”?
          Of course, compared to the deplorables, everyone is a “marxist” (see the demented rant from doug-the-braindead).

          • Petros Linardos says:

            I was referring to the American usage of right/left. From a European standpoint, Democrats are center right. Hard to explain that to US (or Australian ?) ultra-conservatives.

            Sometimes I tempted to theorize that the USA is a socialist country with regard to the military, or that the scumbag-In-Chief is a socialist with regard to coal. Moreover, he is definitely anti- free market, i.e. a polar opposite to conservatism, in his protectionist rhetoric and actions.

      • G. Wizz says:

        But Donald Trump is still a wanker, whatever. And the piece is very cleverly written

  • CYM says:

    Obviously a much better demonstration of « refined sense of musical style » and fair-moderate views of the Muslim Kenyan.
    – Any way to get the score, with the lyrics ?

  • CYM says:

    The previous President, according to many …

  • Anon says:

    Terrific! But it’s a shame that “wanker” is such a specifically British word. Americans don’t use it & most quite understand what it means. We still share our enthusiasm about this piece, but it would have been better with a more universal insult.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      So what does that word mean? This is an honest question.

      • Quodlibet says:

        Umm, you could, you know, look it up?

        Presumably you have a working computer and a working internet connection, because here you are commenting! You might be interested to know that there are things called “search engines” (Google being just one of them) wherein you type in a word or phrase and hit the ENTER key or click a certain button on the screen (not a real button, such as on your shirt, but a virtual “button,” you know?) and the search engine will kindly respond with a list of documents or websites or other things that might contain information related to the word or phrase about which you are curious. It’s sort of like looking something up in a dictionary or encyclopedia only it’s less tidy and a lot more adventurous. Try it!

        To get you started, here’s a sample “search” in the thing called “google”

        If you really want a graphic depiction, click on “Video” near the top of the google results page. I didn’t (I prefer to watch choral music), but you could!

        • Petros Linardos says:

          I have never received such a condescending answer to a simple question. What makes you assume I didn’t look it up? I did, but wasn’t sure which meaning applied.

          • Quodlibet says:

            I apologize for a snarky tone. There was already a link earlier in the thread to a wiki article on the topic. I was surprised given the context that a definition was needed. I really am sorry. I have strong reactions to much of the commentary here, but I’m not really a snarky person. Just impatient, I guess; there have been several comments recently where people asked for information that is very readily available with one or two clicks.

        • Bill says:

          Actually, if you really want to do it right, I highly recommend! Not that I think Petros deserves such a response, but I feel confident that you will encounter many who do…

      • mr oakmountain says:

        a) male engaging in auto-erotic activity
        b) male not burdened with excessive intelligence

    • Jim says:

      Does it really hurt to have to take in something new from another culture? (I know, we’re stretching the term in this case). I think you’ll find Gotterdammerung much better in its original language.

      • Anon says:

        No, not at all. But it’s kind of narrow minded for the British person who penned this piece to assume that “wanker” is going to be universally understood and appreciated in this context.

        It wouldn’t hurt to look beyond one’s own culture especially when you’re writing lyrics about another country’s president.

    • Bash says:

      “Donald Trump is a Moron” would fit

    • G. Wizz says:

      As a British person I still know what a schmuck is! I also know what a clutz, jerk and asshole are. All very American insults which by the way are highly appropriate in describing the attributes of the current President of the USA.

  • jeffrey biegel says:

    PDQ, the two-step great grandfather-in-law of this WTF Bach disowned this quasi family member because, well, he took it just a bit too far, and anyway, failed out of his first term at the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople studying anti-music theory with his ninth cousin four times removed, BVD Bach, whose attention span was quite ‘brief’. Unfortunately, tne remaining Bach breed are Demorepublibertarians. It’s a political buffet that basically amounts to nothing.

  • Sharon says:

    Lyrics are a little thin, wouldn’t you say?

    I understand the point of view if those who believe that masturbation creates various social problems and get in the way of some people forming or maintaining satisfying intimate relationships.

    And of course, one hundred and fifty hears ago before human conception was widely understood and sperm were considered to be little persons, like botanically acorns were considered to be trees, it was condemned because it was considered akin to murder.

    But Trump being a wanker? If true, how does that hurt the US?

    Furthermore these juvenile songs do nothing to get him out of office or block the most egregious parts of his agenda. What they do do is make Trump supporters and those on the fence think less of the intelligence of Trump opponents and make them less likely to consider the legitimate arguments of Trump opponents.

    • Bill says:

      It’s a pretty rare Trump supporter who is willing to consider the arguments, legitimate or otherwise, of anyone who doesn’t agree with them. That’s my experience, at least. If there are a few who might switch positions after hearing a well-reasoned argument but are turned off by this sort of thing, well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. If someone invested an equal amount of talent and effort into writing a similar piece about Hillary, I’d probably find that equally entertaining – and make up my mind on how to vote based on other factors.

      • Petros Linardos says:

        I have encountered reluctant Trump supporters who strongly dislike his personality, but believe that his administration’s policies are business friendly and have spurred economic growth. So not all Trump supporters are as irrational. (Personally I don’t buy those arguments and see a continuum in the growth of the US economy in the last 10 years.)

        Statisticians have estimated around 25% of the US population those unconditional Trump believers you are describing. They must be up to something. While over time Trump is by far the most unpopular US president of the polling days (since Harry Truman), his (very low) popularity has so far been fluctuating within a range of about 10%, far narrower than that of his predecessors.

  • Ted says:

    Speaking of Trump, take a look at this: from 1965. It’s uncanny. Is it Sir John Falstaff, or is it President Donald Trump???

  • Alan says:

    Well, Trump IS a wanker, isn’t he.
    And Bob’s your uncle.

  • christopher storey says:

    What I think is even more hilarious than the fugal treatment of the original lyric is the utter lack of sense of humour shown by quite a number of the remarks – it only reinforces the stereotype of the political class in the USA

  • DB says:

    For those complaining that “wanker” is too British, try: “Donald Trump is a plonker”.

    • Anon says:

      Plonker does not work either. Never heard of it . It has to be something like “donald trump is an idiot”. How is it that Trump himself has used a whole slew of perfectly understandable American insults at his various staff members and the British insist on using one which makes absolutely no sense to anyone who is not British?

      Wanker does not work. Period. This is a British joke, by a young British guy aimed at other young British guys.I can’t even recall many British women using the term “wanker” much. This young British guy is giving himself all sorts of kudos for what he thinks is a masterpiece but his audience is limited and he’s basically just a “wanker:” himself because his self pleasing attitude appears to be very masturbatory.

      • David Ward says:

        FWIW I seem to remember the term is used in New Zealand (I was married to an NZ woman for 23 years) and probably in Australia too. It is certainly understood by women of all ages in the UK, whether or not they habitually use it. It is your right not to appreciate it, or even to disapprove of it, but a joke that might possibly be understood by a few tens of millions of people is not inherently obscure. To dismiss humour because it is British rather than American seems a bit odd. To object to it because you personally dislike it is fair enough.

        • V.Lind says:

          It’s not just that it’s British, it’s foreign. An awful lot of Americans do not just, fairly enough, dislike something but are positively disgusting about it because THEY don’t get it. Major case in point: football, in the sense that the entire rest of the world understands the word.

          But I had to caution a more willing American writer once when reviewing a book of his: he tossed off (as it were) the word “wanker” rather casually and inappropriately in a context that indicated he would shortly be in England. I suggested he watch the usage of that word in the pubs, or anywhere else, without being very clear as to what it meant and being prepared to take the consequences.

          • Anon says:

            Dude. This is OUR president, not yours. It has nothing to do with accepting or not accepting foreign culture. This is OUR culture, and unfortunately Trump our president. We have to endure him.

            The least you could do when mocking something in our culture is put it in terms that we can appreciate and understand along with you. Otherwise it reeks of OUR stereotypes of Brits – snobby, elitist, not inclusive, thinking that they’re superior to everyone else. This “lyricist” and everyone who sides with him are standing on their high and mighty British pedestal demeaning Americans even more because we are not fluent in British slang.

            Criticize your own leaders any way you wish. That’s not our business. But if you’re going to criticize a foreign leader, do it in a way that the citizens of that country can appreciate. Otherwise you guys are just a bunch of condescending British stuffed shirts.

            And BTW we are so sick of putting up with whatever s**t other countries feel entitled to dish out at us because we are “the richest and most powerful country in the world”. How does every single American (esp. on this list) fulfill that “rich and powerful” thing? We don’t even have health care for craps sake. We don’t have govt. subsidized orchestras as you do. It’s a helluva lot harder to make a living in the arts in the US as it is in the UK. Maybe you see the good stories. You, idiotically, think that all Americans are like that – rich and powerful. Somehow you feel that gives you the right to make fun of us, criticize us and mock our leaders in a way in which we can’t participate.

            That’s pretty much like us looking at you and thinking we have a right to make fun of you and your leaders in OUR personal slang because you are all ultra wealthy and royal and everyone lives in palaces.

            Stop generalizing about Americans . I live in Europe and constantly see bad behavior from Brits. Horrendous stories. I don’t assume that all of you are like that. Why on earth do you think all Americans are “rich and powerful” and deserve to be made fun of? To use your own colloquilism: it’s a load of “rubbish”.

          • David Ward says:

            This is an attempt to give some answer to Anon’s long post here. In the UK we are far from ignorant of the inequalities within the US. We read American books such as ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ and ‘White Working Class’ alongside our own ‘Poverty Safari.’ It is the America *State* that is rich and powerful, and Trump for now represents that state.

            It is usually best to make jokes in one’s own language, rather than someone else’s. eg I had to check on the meaning of Anon’s first word above ‘Dude’ and I’m still uncertain whether or not it is used as an insult.

            Here in Scotland at least we are not known for being elitist or snobbish, rather the opposite in fact.

          • Saxon Broken says:


            If a British person wants to make a joke about an American president then he can. If you aren’t in on the joke because you don’t understand some of the words, then bad luck. He doesn’t have to include you if he doesn’t want to.

          • Anon says:

            To Saxon Broken,

            Yep. You are welcome to do whatever you “bloody well” please. But just as you have a right to say what you wish, so do we. We can call you out as the elitists that you are for joking about our president in a way which also mocks us.

            You’ve labeled Americans as being incapable of understanding foreign concepts. You’ve called us “the richest and most powerful country on earth” and therefore deserving of derision. That’s pretty insulting. You’re not just insulting Trump, you’re insulting us, the poor unfortunates who have to live under his government.

            You seem to have a thinly veiled hatred of all Americans and you don’t appear to make much distinction between Trump and those of us he’s been thrust upon.

            Do you think the British are perfect? Do you think we enjoy seeing Brits so drunk and disruptive and disgusting when they set foot outside of their own country on holiday, that they give every English speaking nation a bad name?

            Do you think that because your ancestors all lived in castles that you can deride the citizens of countries which you perceive to be “rich and powerful”?

            Tread softly, o arrogant young Brits. People in glass houses should not throw stones.


  • David Ward says:

    What makes this piece work is the contrast between the vulgar (coarse even) words, repeated ad nauseam and the rather clever pastiche fugue. Is the word ‘swank’ used as an alternative to ‘boast’ in the US? The close similarity between ‘swanker’ and ‘wanker’ is amusing in this piece. Here in Scotland, where we habitually indulge in sardonic self-mockery, Trump’s out of control swanking seems hilarious. He is continually claiming to be the best ever at just about anything and everything.

    Yes, he is president of a foreign country, but since the US is currently the richest and most powerful country in the world, us lesser mortals take an interest in its internal affairs and feel entitled to mock US politicians with the same lack of inhibition as we mock our own.

    • Anon says:

      Why does that “richest and most powerful” stuff never seem to trickle down to ordinary citizens? Do you actually think you are addressing US billionaire oligarchs when you are speaking to American Slipped Disc posters? Geez. When we get sick we can’t even afford to go to a doctor.

      • David Ward says:

        I’d better bail out of this as there seems to be a lack of communication. Before doing so I assure you that this reasonably sober 77 year old is not in the least anti-American even if he has a habit of mocking just about any and everything, most of all himself. He is also fully aware of, and deeply concerned by the inequalities within both the US the UK.

      • christopher storey says:

        Let me reassure you, Anon. I am very anti-American in my sentiments. I loathe the United States of America with its overweaning conceit and arrogance, and I loathe everything it stands for. Furthermore, I believe that Donald Trump is the biggest threat to world peace since Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin . Your arrogant posts only confirm to me that I am justified in my beliefs. Does that make the position clear , even to you ?

        • Bill says:

          And you are from? I assume someplace you think is better. Just want to know what should be viewed as an example of how it should be done. As for Trump, I’m not sure I’m ready to award that distinction yet, but he’s certainly a strong contender!

  • Nicht Schleppend says:

    Is there a Boris Johnson equivalent?

    Perhaps relating to his reported regular Ugandan discussions rather than to Rousseau’s affliction.

  • Iain Strachan says:

    A lot of people are commenting that “wanker” means idiot or moron. As a Brit, I have to say that it means much more than that. To my mind it implies a really objectionable and annoying person who is totally up himself.

    Maybe a closer American equivalent would be “asshole”, or as we would say over here “arsehole”.

    The literal meaning of the word is rarely intended, though it could imply someone who has to resort to this activity because they can’t find a partner to have sex with. But given that the word is often prefixed (over here) with the word “f***ing”, then I think any literal sexual connotation would be a contradiction.