In my rebellious teenage years, my favorite movie was "The Wild One" (1953). It starred Marlon Brando as the defiant leader of a motorcycle gang, whose takeover of a small town in California ends in tragedy.
Early in the film, one of the bikers steals a trophy from a motorcycle race and presents it to “Johnny” (Brando), who straps it to his handlebars, falsely impersonating a true champion.
I was recently reminded of the film after learning that a group of Republican governors, led by South Carolina's Henry McMaster, have teamed up in an effort to hijack the Nobel Peace Prize for President Trump.
McMaster's single claim for eligibility is that The Donald, through his threats and belittling insults against Kim Jong Un, has forced North Korea to the bargaining table, with expectations that Kim will agree to complete denuclearization, and to peaceful relations with South Korea and the U.S.
But two things stand in the way of President Me-Myself-and-I, before he can contemplate strapping anything to his handlebars.
The first problem is the inscrutable North Korean leader, who has already threatened to cancel the Trump/Jong Un summit scheduled for next month. Since Kim and his predecessors have a long history of foreign policy surprises, illogic and unreliability, few will be surprised when and if he leads the Trump administration on a wild goose chase.
Second, while the Republican governors for Trump cite Korea as the chief reason for scoring the Peace Prize, they studiously avoid any mention of their Nobel candidate's multiple incitements for war. From Israel to Iran to our own homeland, this administration has done more to jeopardize peace in a single year than some despots manage in a lifetime.
First, in the Mideast, Trump's obsequious bow to Israel's Netanyahu and his evangelical following in moving the American embassy to Jerusalem has essentially doomed any hopes for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Israeli solders are mowing down Palestinians with live rifle fire at the Gaza border, even as I type.
Secondly, against the advice of his military and the urging of our allies, Trump has pulled the U.S. out of the agreement that was keeping Iran from proceeding with its own nuclear program. What kind of Nobel Peace Prize nominee tears up a peace treaty? Or green-lights an adversary's program for making an atom bomb?
Here at home, Trump's racist remarks and tacit approval of white supremacist groups like the one that staged a deadly march in Charlottesville, Virginia, while not yet leading to out-and-out race war in America, has certainly taken us further away from racial harmony and peace.
Further, with his push for a Mexican border wall, his opposition to illegal and legal immigrants, and his executive sabotage of the DACA program, Trump has single-handedly fomented a cold war with men, women, and children from foreign countries, implicitly singling out those who are Muslim or Latin American.
And how can anyone forget that Trump has blown up President Obama's initiatives with Cuba, sabotaging half a century of hope for more peaceful relations with our island nation neighbor?
Finally, Gina Haspell, Trump's recently confirmed nominee to lead the CIA, was a supervisor for George Bush's administration's “enhanced interrogation” of suspected terrorists. So if the Southern Republican governors actually believe the judges in Stockholm would give the peace price to the man who just hired an expert in inflicting torture, in case it's needed in any of his future wars, they're even more delusional than “Johnny's” motorcycle flunkies.
Near the conclusion of "The Wild One," after the small-town citizens suspect Johnny of sexual assault of a café waitress, they chase him through the town until he loses control of his motorcycle, killing an innocent old man.
Johnny is jailed, abandoned by his followers, and about to be convicted of manslaughter, when last-minute testimony sets him free.
The last we see of him, he gifts the aforementioned waitress with his phony trophy, before heading for the hills on his hawg.
Trump should be so lucky.
(We should be so lucky, too.)
A contributing columnist for Hayward's Sawyer County Record, David McGrath is author of "The Territory." firstname.lastname@example.org
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