The Internet has had a lot of fun with Donald Drumpf, a bizarre phenomenon — though bizarre is all so relative in this election — that has gone viral since Sunday night's segment of Last Week Tonight. Host John Oliver revealed what biographers for Donald Trump discovered years ago: that the Donald's original ancestral name was not Trump, but "Drumpf." The joke is nearing peak cultural saturation, but the rest of the candidates' responses to "Donald Drumpf" have been non-existent, and that's probably a good thing.
Oliver launched a campaign to "Make Donald Drumpf Again," saying that we need to separate the iconic status of the last name with the reality of Donald Trump. He detailed that many people equate the name with wealth and success, not a bad thing to have in a candidate, and advocated for using his real last name to give us a new focus. As Oliver said:
Drumpf is much less magical. It's the sound produced when a morbidly obese flies into the window of a foreclosed Old Navy. Drumpf! It's the sound of a bottle of store brand root beer falling of the shelf in a gas station mini-mart.
Twitter wasted no time going in on Drumpf, but GOP and Democratic candidates haven't followed suit. Even as the rhetoric between Trump and Marco "Little" Rubio heats up, no one has used the Last Week Tonight joke to discredit the candidate. That's good for a few reasons.
First, as several op-eds have noted throughout the week, the joke plays off of the same kind of intolerance that Trump himself employs. The whole idea of Drumpf being funny and that it somehow discredits the candidate is based on the fact that's foreign to us. The German name doesn't match up to red-white-and-blue expectations, so use it as a punchline. Trump himself used the idea that President Obama's middle name, Hussein, somehow made him less American. And particularly for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, themselves the children of immigrants, it would feel especially disingenuous to make fun of a foreign-sounding name.
Plus, just because Donald Trump has made it part of his campaign platform to tear down everyone around him with petty insults doesn't mean that other politicians should stoop to his level. Even as Oliver allowed that Trump's zingers were objectively funny, they are also decidedly not presidential. To see the other candidates seize on something that, indeed, Trump can't even help, would seem just as petty as the front-runner insulting Rubio for sweating too much. Do we need to drag down the rest of politics to be on Trump's level?
It's always fun to take down the bully. Trump has, without abandon, gone after every single candidate in the presidential race, and sometimes it's satisfying to see what goes around come back around. But if the candidates jumped on the Donald Drumpf train, it would be a tacit endorsement that his strong-arm tactics are completely OK.