On Wednesday, Time magazine announced that its Person of the Year for 2017 was The Silence Breakers, women and men who have spoken up against powerful and sexually abusive men in their industries. The choice was an apt one; nothing has shaped the national conversation this year more than the people who come forward to call out abuse.
But from there, I take issue with the list. Donald Trump as runner-up? Please. Even though he has done his share to sneak into every headline and every brain cavity and every memory, he’s tired, like a top 40 song that gets stuck in one’s head while another song unseats its place at the top of the charts.
The year’s most undersung news cycle shaper has been, without a doubt, the Idiot Son.
The Idiot Son is not the same thing as the Large Adult Son, something several writers have explored in depth over the course of this year. The Large Adult Son is a benign-to-useless adult male whose proximity to their fathers invokes the image of overgrown goslings still trailing their parent through a park. The Idiot Son is actively harmful. The Idiot Son’s chutzpah and stupidity threatens his family, and drags unrelated people into his problems. The Large Adult Son wears a shirt that matches his father’s in the annual Christmas card photo. The Idiot Son accidentally drives his new Maserati into an elementary school playground and calls his father to get him out of trouble when the police arrive.
A vigorous national debate has erupted over which of President Trump’s adult sons is The Idiot. SNL thinks it’s Eric, because Eric looks dumber than Donald Jr. But there’s really no contest. Donald Junior is The Idiot. Donald Junior is such an Idiot Son that his overconfident dumbassery might sink his father’s entire administration. And he still doesn’t seem to understand how much trouble he could be in.
Via email, Don Jr. accepted a meeting with a Kremlin-tied Russian attorney whom a charlatan intermediary promised would deliver dirt on Hillary Clinton. “I love it!” the Idiot Son replied before ensnaring the top levels of the Trump campaign in at the very least a pretty bad optical moment, at the very worst an attempt to collude with a foreign power.
When The New York Times was about to publish the email trail implicating Junior in the affair this past summer, The Idiot Son released a statement claiming the meeting was about Russian-American adoptions, a statement that was crafted aboard Air Force One and with the aid of an Idiot number of Trump administration officials. When it turned out that the Times had the “I love it!” email, Junior took it upon himself to tweet screen grabs of the emails himself, as though there was a clause in the criminal code that specifies that you can’t get in trouble for something you admit to. (Oddly enough, President Trump would espouse the opposite belief when dodging questions about his support for accused child molester and Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has not admitted to any child molestation despite the nine women who have come forward. But I digress.)
Yesterday, The First Idiot Son was called to testify in front of a closed-door Senate panel, where he was asked about just how stupid he’d been with respect to the Russia investigation. Junior claimed attorney-client privilege in refusing to answer the committee’s questions about a conversation he’d had with his father over the phone. Neither Junior nor Senior are attorneys, but Junior claimed that because there was an attorney on the call, just kind of hanging out, that the father-Idiot Son conversation was protected.
Idiot Sons are often used as leverage in investigations into their less-stupid, but-still-dumb fathers. Michael Flynn, former national security adviser, also has an Idiot Son named Michael Flynn Junior. His Idiot Son was once the chief of staff at Flynn Intel Group and a principle disseminator of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory which posited that Democrats were running a secret child sex ring out of the basement of a pizza restaurant in D.C. News reports indicate that Flynn Junior’s activities associated with the former put him in the line of Robert Mueller’s investigation, which gave the FBI the leverage it needed to convince Michael Flynn Senior to plead guilty to a felony and flip.
“The SJW are out in full this morning,” tweeted Junior on the day NBC News reported that the FBI was using his stupidity to get his father to flip, “the disappointment on your faces when I don’t go to jail will be worth all your harassment.” The perfect Idiot Son tweet.
Flynn Junior might not go to jail, but people much more important than he was ever capable of being might. Flynn’s flipping means that Mueller is now targeting people above him in the administration, a small and alarmingly powerful field. Perhaps it includes Trump’s Idiot Son, who could serve as a bartering chip with the president himself.
For his part, Donald Junior seems unaware of how much trouble he could be in, how much trouble his whole family could be in. Today, he gloated about Sen. Al Franken’s retirement over sexual misconduct allegations, misquoting a popular sketch Franken was in as a member of SNL, seemingly ignorant of the 19 women who had accused his father of worse. Classic Idiot Son.
Juniors Flynn and Trump might never grasp the extent of their own stupidity; it’s part of what makes them idiots. But for the rest of us, we can take comfort in the fact that the entire course of American history could be changed by the fact that two Idiot Sons don’t know how to do crimes very well.