Subscribe to the IHARE Blog

State of American History, Civics, and Politics

“The Party of Stupid,” Norman Vincent Peale, and the Coronavirus

Back in January 2013, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, then a rising Republican star, issued a stark and brutal warning to the Republican Party: it “must stop being the stupid party.” His issued this ringing admonition in the wake of the presidential election defeat in 2012 by Mitt Romney to Barack Obama. It was an election Republicans really thought they could win. When defeat ensued, the Republican National Committee’s Winter Meeting was convened to determine what the Party should do now. Jindal said to “stop insulting the intelligence of voters” would be a good start. Now here we are over seven years later and approaching another presidential election. So how is the Party of Stupid doing?


Let’s consider some very recent events to measure whether Jindal’s advice was taken.

1. Representative Ted Yoho
In this now-viral example, Yoho put a different face to the nasty and mean Party other than the normal ones. This mostly obscure representative committed a double faux pas. He uttered what should not be uttered and he did so in the presence of the press. He also directed his nasty meaness against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a target more than capable of fighting back. In fact, his foe was far more skilled in the use of the media, including social media, than he was. This very incident may be the one that solidified her position as the replacement of Chuck Schumer once he steps down from the Senate.

Yoho branded himself not only as a mean and nasty person who used derogatory language, he went on record as being a coward. His pathetic attempt at an apology only demonstrated that he would have been better off saying nothing rather than exposing himself as gutless. Hiding behind a wife and daughters does not project an image of strength or having the courage of one’s convictions. It shows that the Republican Party which rallied around him is still the Party of Stupid.

2. Representative Louie Gohmert
What can you say about a person who is superb at putting his foot in his mouth and who would be better served if he never opened it again? There is no need to waste space repeating his nonsense about masks before he became infected, his nonsense about masks after he became infected, his lunacy in how he informed his staff, and his decision to take hydroxychloroquine. As Forest Gump used to say, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Gohmert definitely is in the running for the Stupidest Representative of the Year award for 2020 and his year is not yet over. Clearly he is a card-carrying member of the Party of Stupid.

3. A Trump Voter on CNN
CNN interviewed a group of Trump voters from 2016 to determine where they stood in the upcoming election. One of them made Kellyanne Conway seem like a resident of the real world. Statistics were being thrown around on the basis that people have the right to their own facts. Why should the economy have been shut down when 99.99% of the people infected recover with no problem? After all we don’t close down the Interstate Highway System because of deaths from car accidents. Right you are. Thank you for showing why elected officials who exemplify being stupid have no problem retaining the support of their constituents. What Jindal meant to say was to “stop insulting the intelligence of general public voters if you want to be elected but keep on insulting the intelligence of our own party voters if you want to be nominated.”

Besides Roy Cohn, Norman Vincent Peale seems to be non-family member who greatly affected our current wartime leader. I became aware of this connection from “The religious roots of Trump’s magical thinking on coronavirus,” by Daniel Burke, CNN Religious Editor (May 21, 2020). Burke sought to understand the frequent references to a “miracle” as the solution to the pandemic. “It’s going to go away.”

It didn’t yet over and over again America seeking leadership heard this refrain instead. Burke wrote:

Invoking a miracle is an understandable response during a pandemic, but to some, the President’s insistence that the coronavirus will simply vanish sounds dangerously like magical thinking — the popular but baffling idea that we can mold the world to our liking, reality be damned.

In an attempt to trace the origin of this wishful thinking, Burke turned to biographers who had written about the influences:

But long ago, his biographers say, Trump learned how to craft his own version of reality, a lesson he learned in an unlikely place: a church. It’s called the “power of positive thinking,” and Trump heard it from the master himself: the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale… “He thought I was his greatest student of all time,” Trump has said. AND HE THOUGHT I WAS AN ADULT!

Back in 2009, in an interview with Psychology Today entitled Donald Trump on Failure, he said following:

In the early 1990s, I owed billions of dollars and many people thought I was finished. I refused to give in to the negative circumstances and I never lost faith in myself. I didn’t believe I was finished even when the [FAKE NEWS] newspapers were saying so. I refused to give up. Defeat is not in my vocabulary. Defeat is not in my vocabulary personally or professionally, which I think served me well in my comeback.

My father was friends with Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, and I had read his famous book, [HE READ A BOOK! HE READ A BOOK! HE READ A BOOK!] The Power of Positive Thinking. I’m a cautious optimist but also a firm believer in the power of being positive. I think that helped. I refused to be sucked into negative thinking on any level, even when the indications weren’t great. That was a good lesson because I emerged on a very victorious level. It’s a good way to go.

He did become President after all so the philosophy of the power of positive thinking seems to be working.

Burke concludes:

Peale’s teachings can explain why Trump won’t accept criticism
You can hear echoes of Peale’s no-fail philosophy in Trump’s angry response to reporters’ questions about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, said Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio. “Nothing is an exchange of ideas or discussion of facts,” D’Antonio said. “Everything is a life or death struggle for the definition of reality. For him, being wrong feels like being obliterated.”

Maybe in his next interview Jonathan Swan will ask if the wartime leader still rates himself a “10” and still wouldn’t have changed anything.

Peale returned to the headlines in a frontpage article in The New York Times “Trump Family Legacy: Empathy Is for the Weak” (print July 29, 2020). The article focused on the funeral for Fred Trump at which Peale officiated. After Peale delivered a normal eulogy, everything switched to the son. The eulogy for the dead father became praise for the living son. It’s always about him.


The coronavirus, the Party of Stupid, and the child in the body of man with the emotional maturity of a three-year old are a match made in hell. They are a perfect storm for maximizing the death toll in America. It’s a concatenation of dumb, dumber, and dumbest. If you tried with all your might, with all your heart, and with all your soul to create a worse combination you couldn’t do better than these three.

Let’s put things in perspective. The Party of Stupid already existed prior to the 2016 election by its own admission. It didn’t choose to stop being that. It just looked around for someone to carry it over the finish line as the Party of Stupid. The longtime faux Democrat and Clinton-supporter knew he had no future faking it as Democrat. He had the gut instincts to realize he could exploit the Party of Stupid for his own needs. And it worked. Now it accepts him as its Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed Be his Name. Furthermore, the cornonavirus is killing people they didn’t care about even before 2016. Unless Trumpicans start dying in droves even wearing a mask is a sign of weakness and selling out to scientists with all that global warming talk. They won’t do it. They believe in their leader who copes with reality through the power of positive thinking by claiming a miracle will occur.

                                           The Presidential Plan for the Coronavirus

Who knew all those chants of “We’re No. 1″ meant in deaths from Corvid-19?

One thought on ““The Party of Stupid,” Norman Vincent Peale, and the Coronavirus

  1. Peter,

    Given those supporter comments, can you really call it insulting of intelligence’s if the leaders are in agreement? Seems like a comradery of insults on intelligence.

    That cartoon, spot on and hilarious.


Comments are closed.