September 21, 2016
With all the recent talk about Donald Trump chipping away at Hillary Clinton’s lead in the presidential-race polls, there’s been a lot of talk along the lines of, “Holy moly, could the guy who curb-stomped the rest of the Republican primary field actually win the White House?”
You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it. And the candidates have heard it, too.
Without delving into statistical and electoral-college map intricacies that most of us are unlikely to master, that chatter got me to thinking this other night: “What would the Secret Service's nickname for President Trump be? And, while Candidate Trump's nickname is 'Mogul,' might I suggest changing it to 'Agent Orange'?”
You see, that's a cheeky play on not only his spray-tan hue, but the fact that – in my humble opinion – he’s as much a risk to the future of the country as the herbicide used to eradicate trees and vegetation was to the people of, and American soldiers fighting in, Vietnam.
Well, it didn’t take me long to realize that many other people have thought the same thing. (See the results of this Twitter search for confirmation.) While perusing the likeminded results the other night, I noticed something peculiar.
Namely, the fact that a woman from Massachusetts named Meg Lessard was the first to broach the topic, and she did so five and a half years ago when pretty much nobody saw Trump’s presidential-race successes coming.
“If Donald Trump runs for POTUS,” she tweeted on March 25, 2011, “will his Secret Service name be Agent Orange?”
The timing of said tweet, in light of its seemingly predictive prowess, left me wondering whether Lessard – who writes on a wide-ranging personal blog called “The Members Lounge” – was a psychic medium who saw the future, but publicly offered a coy declaration of things to come for America.
I spoke to her by phone from her native Boston on Wednesday afternoon to see if she’s a political seer whose flown under the radar, allowing Nate Silver to become the widely accepted go-to source for polling predictions.
What follows is a lightly edited version of that conversation:
Five years ago, you wrote the first Trump “Agent Orange” tweet. I have to ask: Are you a psychic who sees the future?
I forgot I wrote that. I had to go back and check after you emailed. I’d taken a little break from writing because we moved to Texas for three years and kind of just laid low there.
Was I the "Long Island Medium" on that? Something he did must’ve struck a chord [in a year that saw Trump get ridiculed at the White House Correspondents Dinner, stoke the “birther” issue and host The Apprentice television show on NBC].
My jaw has since dropped to the floor since he’s actually the real Republican candidate for president years later.
But, I honest to God thought even then that he could run, that he had enough ego and the way he talked to other people to do it.
I was probably watching "Celebrity Apprentice" when I tweeted that because I’d blogged about [contestant] Gary Busey around the same time. [Trump’s] antics, and having the platform to get feedback from people no matter how he treated the B- and C-list celebrities on the show, I thought, "Look at the way he’s treating them, and they just take it. Maybe they’re just overlooking it because they’re making money for charity."
I felt like he had the kind of power to talk like that to anybody and get away with it, and that fed his ego. It kind of came to fruition. It’s kind of hard to believe that he gets away with being so misogynistic when NBC in particular gave him that platform.
People got used to it and now they think it’s OK to talk to people like that. If you put enough [political attacks] out there, people will believe it. It astounds me. I’ve had to shut off Twitter and Facebook feeds on account of the horrible things I saw from people who are really going to vote for this guy.
I’m not big on getting into war of words with people. Sadly, they’re OK with how he treats and talks to people. Could you imagine if President Obama was walking around calling people dopes or pigs? I can’t imagine any world leader doing that. He’s become a walking caricature of himself. He really is nuts.
Do you take pride in being the first for a line that’s been repeated hundreds if not thousands of times right now?
Yeah! When you mentioned it, I looked back and was surprised that I was first. Obviously, a lot of other people thought of it too, now. I’ve called him Orange Julius, too, when it became real [that he had a chance to win the presidency].
Best part about #DonaldTrump running for President are potential Secret Service nicknames. Should it be Agent Orange or Orange Julius?— Meg Lessard (@Members_Lounge) July 19, 2015
“Agent Orange” is the perfect fit. It fits him to a T. I’m happy to see others agree.
Do you have an issue with spray tanning itself, or just how he looks?
I’ve spray tanned myself before, for weddings and other events like that, and it’s always turned out well. Whatever shade he’s going for, I don’t get it, but it doesn’t look all that good to me.
What would you say if Trump found that old tweet and came after you in one of his late-night Twitter rants?
It’s hard to say. I don’t think I’d stoop to his level. I’d probably say something like, “Thanks for the shout out.” I don’t think I’d go down to the lowest common-denominator level that he inspires in people. When he flings that kind of mud, he brings people down to his level, and I don’t want to do that.