Duterte Manuevers for Gold in “Who’s the Craziest Leader” Reality Show


You can’t say that Trump has had an easy time to things. Sure, he’s been a rich man since he was a young boy, born with the silver spoon lodged firmly in his pouting mouth. And sure, he committed rampant tax fraud and skirted the boundaries of financial rules and court systems to stiff contractors and avoiding keeping any of his promises. You might say he’s a charlatan, you might say he’s an idiot. You’d have a fight on your hands either way. But, we can at least say, he isn’t the craziest world leader on earth. At least, not at this exact moment.

That honor is held, however briefly, by Rodrigo Duterte, the colorful leader of the Philippines who seems quite set on taking home gold in the Craziest Person Who Controls an Army category. In fairness, his performance has been exception, his insanity virtuosic. Little escapes his gaze, and everything he sees, he says something crazy about. Take drug dealers, one of his favorite topics. Borrowing Trump’s circuitous logic and incomprehensible folksiness, Duterte eagerly discusses the scourge of drug dealers at every opportunity, seemingly ignorant to the fact that murdering drug dealers is an absolutely insane and ineffective method of policing your country.

He chugs along, seeming to be blissfully unaware of just how incredibly bad he is at leading a country. Surely no one near him is willing to raise their voices. Look at what happened when people tried to tell Stalin he was a nut job and couldn’t just kill whoever he wanted? Yup, they got dead real quick. Because, it turns out, being a totally insane all-powerful dictator has the perk of forcing reality to be whatever the dictator wants it to be. Oh, I’m insane, you say? Well, let’s see how right you are FROM THE BEYOND THE MORTAL REALM! And just like that, you lose the game.

This might seem baffling to the non-expert or the amateur lunatic watcher. If you only get out once in a while with some cheap binoculars, how can you expect to be an expert? If you won’t practice, you might as well give the clarinet to a kid that will play it.

You see, that’s just the beautiful sight of the master at work. As an observer, there’s no reliable way to tell if Duterte knows he is insane or not. Is he acting? Is he grandstanding? Is he a dictator or just an asshole? No one can say for sure! And that uncertainty is exactly what the judges look for in this competition. Just acting insane isn’t enough. Anyone can act insane: just pull down your pants on the street corner and start screaming. But that’s an amateur move. Duterte is playing at a far higher level.

Even if Trump doesn’t win gold this year, it’s still an honor to play the game at this level. This is why Trump holds leaders like Putin and Duterte in such high esteem. It’s the respect of a fellow competitor, one who plays the game just as well if not better than himself. It’s the respect of one murdered for another in the quality of their work. Only a true expert can see the nuances that make Duterte’s insanity so effectively confusing, and Trump is nothing if not an expert on confusing people.

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Alex Fox

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