A Drumpfinator Explainer For Those Who Have Not Yet Experienced 'Last Week Tonight's' Greatness
Here were the rankings of Google searches for GOP candidates on Super Tuesday: Donald Trump, Donald Drumpf, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz. "Wait a minute," you might say to yourself if you have inexplicably lost Internet connection over the past week. "Who is Donald Drumpf?" No, there hasn't been some late addition and subsequently bizarre surge for a dark horse candidate in the Republican election. The name surfaced on Sunday, when John Oliver launched one of the most comprehensive attacks on front-runner Donald Trump in a 22-minute segment that has now gone viral. In case you're still confused, here's a comprehensive guide to Donald Drumpf (or, er, Trump), who Last Week Tonight expertly took to task, creating absolute Internet gold.
"Our main story tonight, and I cannot believe I'm saying this, is Donald Trump," Oliver began. As the host explained, the show has largely stayed away from covering the candidate, something that is now seemingly impossible in the 2016 election. But if there was something worth saving their Trump-focused energies for, it was the segment that followed.
Along with a litany of takedowns about the candidate's business success, his flip-flopping, and his outright lies, Oliver laid out maybe the most important thing to understand about Trump: His name is synonymous with success and power. The host concedes that truth, noting the candidate's ability to self-brand could be a large reason why he has so many reporters.
"If only there were a way to uncouple that magical word from the man he really is," Oliver mused. "Well, guess what? There is."
Oliver then cited little-known biographical research (or it was before this week, at least) that shows that the Donald's family name wasn't always Trump. It seems that one of the mogul's ancestors renamed the Trump lineage from — drum roll, please — Drumpf. Yup, Drumpf, which as Oliver aptly put it is "much less magical" than the name that has become his iconic brand.
But Oliver went beyond just revealing Trump's family name, he called on America to "Make Donald Drumpf again," rolling out a website, a hashtag (#MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain), and revealing that the show has filed paperwork to trademark the name Drumpf. To say that Last Week Tonight went all in still seems like an understatement. On the site, which does look quite presidential, you can purchase "Make Donald Drumpf Again" hats, or download a Chrome extension that changes "Trump" to "Drumpf." Since Sunday, there has been a Twitter account created (@RealDonalDrumpf), a Twitter bot that has learned to tweet like Donald Trump, and a Wikipedia entry for Donald Drumpf. Snopes did its own investigation and determined that Drumpf was, indeed, Trump's ancestral last name.
Oliver seems to have tried to head any criticism applying Trump's own logic against him. The candidate once called on Jon Stewart to go by his real last name, "Leibowitz," saying that he should take pride in his heritage (the candidate flatly denied ever saying that on Twitter, even though initially said it — wait for it — on the same Twitter account). Oliver flipped that onto Trump on Sunday: "It may seem weird to bring up his ancestral last name, but to quote Donald Trump, 'He should be proud of his heritage.'"
Still, that hasn't stopped blowback against the segment. Several op-eds have been written decrying the glee over Trump's family name, saying that the principle of making fun of "Drumpf" just because it sounds foreign to Americans plays off of the same xenophobia that the candidate does. Writing for The Washington Post, S.I. Rosenbaum cites numerous examples of how American have used names to discredit politicians, including using President Obama's middle name, Hussein, as some sort blow against his credibility as a U.S. citizen.
So far, the politician hasn't responded to Oliver's jab, which, after a week, might mean that the segment couldn't lure Trump out. He might be trying to avoid reminding voters of the name, which, admittedly, is much less sexy than Trump to American ears. But whether you agree with Oliver's segment or not, its kind of amazing that the factoid took this long to come out in this GOP circus.