Aptronym, if I’ve ever seen one

An aptronym is a person’s name that’s eerily appropriate to his occupation.

Star witness for the prosecution

Thus, I’ve known at least three financial people named Banks. Thomas Crapper invented… well, you know what he invented. Usain Bolt is a jolly fast sprinter. Swiss psychiatrist Jules Angst published books on anxiety. Rosalind Brewer used to be a director of the Molson Coors Brewing Company.

These are all amusing enough, but nowhere near as much as the name of one of the star witnesses for the prosecution at the trial of Donald Trump in Manhattan. That gentleman is the publisher of The National Inquirer, a tabloid known for its salacious stories fittingly illustrated.

His name? David Pecker – and do wipe that smirk off your face. That really is his name, I’m not kidding.

Apparently, Mr Pecker’s publication effectively served as the PR mouthpiece for the previous Trump campaign, constantly running stories detrimental to Trump’s opponents and spiking those detrimental to Trump. Allegedly falling into the latter category was the Stormy Daniels story and another similar one, involving a former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Let me tell you, old Donald was a busy boy, but by all accounts the American public doesn’t hold his virile exuberance against him. In fact, his core support holds nothing against him, certainly not the rapidly multiplying criminal charges.

So far Donald hasn’t been charged with the assassination of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy, but if that were to happen I wouldn’t be at all surprised. The difficulties encountered on the first day of the trial don’t surprise me either, as you can see for yourself by glancing at my yesterday’s piece.

There I used the example of this case to argue against the continuing validity of the jury system. I shan’t repeat myself, but the basic point was that the pool of humanity from which juries could be drawn has been poisoned by modernity. Thanks to instant access to information, prospective jurors learn every detail of any publicised trial long before being summoned. And their minds are firmly made up before Exhibit A is presented.

What’s true of any publicised trial is a hundred times truer of a politicised one. And the first ever criminal trial of a former president is as politicised as they come.

Reading today’s reports, I couldn’t help gloating in that ‘I told you so’ way that’s not my common currency. The jury selection has run into expected problems: 50 out of the first 96 candidates owned up to having a strong bias about the case. That means there were 50 honest people and 46 liars – none of them can possibly be impartial.

And if all Manhattanites have a bias, one can almost certainly guarantee it’s against Trump. After all, 86.4 per cent of the island’s population voted for Biden in the 2020 election, with only 1.4 per cent opting for Trump.

The very choice of Manhattan as the venue strikes me as prejudicial – that’s like trying the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in Beverly Hills or on the campus of an Ivy League university.

Even more of a travesty is the choice of the judge. Juan Merchan didn’t just support Biden but actually contributed to his campaign. Surely he should have recused himself, if only not to guarantee the success of a subsequent appeal if Trump is found guilty.

So far His Honour has made one ruling I find baffling. The prosecution wanted to admit as evidence the notorious tape of Trump explaining how grabbing a woman’s kitten can make her docile. That the judge declined to do, probably because it’s unclear what locker-room banter has to do with the case. If the aim is to show that Trump isn’t a choir boy, it’s superfluous: I don’t think many people are in doubt on that score.

But then His Honour undid his good work by allowing the prosecution to refer to the tape throughout the trial. That strikes a rank amateur like me as tantamount to admitting the tape: the jury will be getting constant reminders that Donald is a bit on the rough side.

 “Ms Daniels was living proof that the defendant wasn’t all talk,” said the prosecutor, trying to make the kitten tape even remotely relevant. But it isn’t. The subtle logic may escape me, but off the top I can’t see what Trump’s propensity for talking dirty has to do with the charge of cooking the books to conceal a hush-up payment.

Mr Trump and his admirers, among whom I proudly don’t count myself, claim that the trial is politically motivated. One has to agree: even if the accusation is true, the whole thing is too petty to warrant the cost of a trial.

However, no one can guarantee that the truth, whatever it is, will come out in a trial where the judge is a Biden activist (and therefore Trump hater – the two camps are bursting with mutual animosity), while the jury is guaranteed to be biased to begin with and made much more so by the media coverage generally hostile to the defendant.

I can’t think offhand of any real reason for taking this matter to court other than the desire to torpedo Trump’s campaign. If so – and every evidence suggests it is so – the trial represents a travesty of justice.

That is a far worse crime than any Donald Trump may or may not have committed. A country can survive a corrupt president or prime minister, but it can’t survive the rule of corrupt law. Justice is the cornerstone of a civilised commonwealth. Knock it out and the whole edifice will collapse.  

3 thoughts on “Aptronym, if I’ve ever seen one”

  1. Would the phrase “show trial” be an exaggeration? Not much of an exaggeration, I fear.

    Trial by jury worked pretty well when very nearly every potential juror shared the same Christian or Christian-influenced Weltanschauung. Even today, it’s probably preferable to trial by leftie judges, such as we have in the UK at the highest level in Tony Blair’s Supreme Court, not to mention the vile European Court of Human Rights. But the chances of justice being done even by a jury in any court in Christendom are not good, and are getting worse and worse.

  2. I don’t want Trump to be elected because he is a very dishonest man.
    However if he is not elected it could because he was convicted of a rape in 95 or 96 – a crime which it is impossible for any man who was not in solitary to have an alibi for and so all men could be convicted of.
    So I have a dilemma – I think him being elected is the least bad outcome

    1. I don’t think a rape charge is on the agenda, but I agree in general: a country can survive a bad president, but it can’t survive bad justice. Whatever we may think about Trump, this series of politically motivated kangaroo trials is much worse than anything he might or might not have done.

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