On Rihanna at the Super Bowl, Donald Trump may have finally gone too far

As ever, with Trump it’s all about revenge, served ice cold and long after everyone else has forgotten whatever slight his fragile ego might have once suffered

Sean O'Grady
Tuesday 14 February 2023 05:38 GMT
Pregnant Rihanna performs stunning Super Bowl half time show

He’s back, again. Bigly. OK, he never went away, though he was quieter for a while. Yet, like a giant tangerine balloon hovering across the skies of the world, Donald J Trump is omnipresent. He’s the most famous human being on the planet. Possibly ever. Or: “EVER!!”, as he might express it. Bigger than Jesus. All that. It’s not enough, though. He’s an addict. He won’t be content until those remaining remotes tribes in the depths of the Amazon know about how clever he is, and those in the remotest corners of the world appreciate how lucky Melania is to have him.

Just imagine, for a moment, how this global fame, infamy and influence could be used for good. He could ask folk to donate a little money to the Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal, having taken the lead with a substantial donation of his own. He could encourage people to take the Covid vaccines, and reject the dangerous anti-science conspiracy theories embraced by so many of his disciples. He could back Ukraine’s right to defend itself.

But he’s decided to have a go at Rihanna instead. Nothing speaks more loudly to Trump’s essential childishness and triviality than his social media rants, and especially this latest lash out. Still marooned on his personal channel Truth Social, for commercial reasons, the not very statesmanlike former president told the world: “EPIC FAIL: Rihanna gave, without question, the single worst Halftime Show in Super Bowl history.”

“This after insulting far more than half of our Nation, which is already in serious DECLINE, with her foul and insulting language.”

And, in a final and supposedly devastating lethal swipe…

“Also, so much for her ‘Stylist!’”

How will Rihanna ever recover?

As ever, with Trump it’s all about revenge, served ice cold and long after everyone else has forgotten whatever slight his fragile ego might have once suffered. The “foul and insulting language” Trump referred to was the slogan “F*** Trump” that she painted on a car at the Cadillac Ranch in Texas in 2020.

Trump seems to have had his memory jogged about that unbearable humiliation by another Truth Social media posted by Texas congressman Ronny Jackson, Trump’s former White House doctor.

“She’s made a career of spewing degenerate filth while badmouthing America every chance she gets. Why is the NFL showcasing this crap? Rihanna SHOULD NOT be the halftime performer!!”

It all seems terrifically snowflakey, this show of indignation by guys whose self-image is so rugged and macho. Maybe Trump is running out of machismo, like the world is running out of air to breathe thanks to his climate denialism. Or maybe it’s just the same old Donald who’s got a bit of an issue with any woman in the public eye who isn’t both beautiful (to his eye) and duly respectful of the old monster. Here’s a few reminders about that:

Hillary Clinton: “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?”

Cher: “Cher is somewhat of a loser. She’s lonely. She’s unhappy. She’s very miserable.”

Arianna Huffington: “Unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man — he made a good decision.”

Kim Kardashian: “Does she have a good body? No. Does she have a fat a**? Absolutely.”

And, of course, his nemesis, Stormy Daniels: “Horseface”.

I’m not qualified to say what goes under that candy floss-like confected hairdo. Trump’s mind may be suffering from some sort of psychological disorder around insecurity; or it could be just that he’s an old-fashioned male chauvinist pig. Whatever: his latest outburst suggests a couple of things that have a much wider significance.

First, that he craves publicity like never before, and that means another run for the Whitehouse – he’s not going to quietly withdraw and act as some kind of kingmaker. The value of the attention exceeds the possibility of failure.

Second, it should remind the world (again) just how dangerous the guy is. Getting into a spat with Rihanna isn’t going to kill anyone, but getting lairy with President Xi or the ayatollahs might well do.

Trump is as unfit for high office as he was when he ran in 2106, and indeed he has immatured with age and grown more dangerous, as 6 January insurrection he incited proved. He just gets worse. Majorly.

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