Braggart – A loud or arrogant boaster. Webster’s New International Dictionary.
When did America become so infatuated with braggarts?
Did it start with Muhammad Ali, who proclaimed that he was “the greatest”?
Even when Joe Frazier flattened him in 1971, it didn’t zip the Louisville Lip.
“I’m not the greatest,” he boasted. “I’m the double greatest. Not only do I knock ’em out, I pick the round.”
And it’s not just what is said. Today’s Major League home run hitter stands at the plate in awe of his blow, though it may have gone but 315 feet, a little more than half of a Mickey Mantle titanic clout in the 1960s. In contrast, Mantle would round the bases with his head lowered so as not to embarrass the pitcher.
The spread of boasting, or hot-dogging, has taken over the sports world. It is impossible to watch a National Football League game for even one minute before the camera zooms in on a player who in his mind has made the play of the century, though it may seem fairly routine to viewers since the participants are supposed to be competing at the highest level of the sport.
The showoff is so taken with his own importance that he widely opens his arms to physically accept an invited avalanche of applause. This theatric gesture may precede some sort of dance that he has choreographed prior to the game.
It was only a matter of time before this overt boastfulness infected politics, the nation’s other great pastime.
Recently, Donald Trump, who seeks the Republican Party’s nomination to run for president, admitted that he was “a bragger.” The statement wasn’t necessarily news, for Trump is known for being immodest about his wealth ($10 billion), his business success (hundreds of companies) and his bluntness.
Similar to Ali, Trump has captured the attention of a country all too eager to find a new celebrity or diversion. Unlike Ali, who was worshiped by the media, Trump has found skepticism among reporters who continue to predict that his bombast won’t last.
For now, Trump’s boldness and his positions are novel to politics. And yes, admittedly, it can be entertaining.
“I have a great, great company. I employ thousands of people,” he crowed. “And I’m very proud of the job I did.”
Which leads to this question: Whatever happened to “humility”?
Aug. 26, 2015