Trump Jr, Bolsonaro Jr beware the Adult Idiot Sons of unhinged presidents | Arwa Madhawi

The worlds worst leaders have a dangerous heir who will risk peace to get Dads attention, says Guardian columnist Arwa Madhawi

There is an emerging political phenomenon that poses a unique threat to international stability and our collective sanity. It is the growing influence of what is sometimes known, in political jargon, as the Idiot Adult Son. From Donald Trump to Benjamin Netanyahu, Jair Bolsonaro to Rodrigo Duterte, the worlds most awful leaders all seem to have knuckleheaded offspring who are doing their best to be just like Dad, and doing a lot of damage in the process.

The Idiot Adult Son, by the way, should not confused with the Large Adult Son, a meme that sprung up recently. The latter is basically an overgrown, overprivileged man-child; annoying but largely harmless. The IAS, on the other hand, is a loose cannon whose attempts to gain the attention and affection of his father often result in a diplomatic incident. Eric Trump is a Large Adult Son. Donald Trump Jr, he of the awkward Russian meetings, is an Idiot Adult Son. (Ivanka is a Machiavellian Adult Daughter, but thats another article).

Perhaps because his father never loved him enough growing up, the IAS worships his dad to an almost pathological degree. The Brazilian presidents second son, Carlos Bolsonaro, for example, has his fathers face tattooed on his arm. A very healthy and not-at-all creepy thing to have done. I dont believe Donald Jr has tattooed his arms orange yet, but he does spend an inordinate amount of time online obsessing over Trump Sr. He even recently shared a Pornhub meme about his father. Again, a very healthy, not-at-all creepy thing to have done.

Spending large amounts of time doing inadvisable things on social media is a defining characteristic of the IAS. Carlos, who is nicknamed pitbull (as in the dog, not the rapper), has made headlines over the past week for his online attacks against Brazils vice-president, Hamilton Mouro. This latest drama comes just a couple of months after Carlos who has taken part in high-level governmental meetings since his daddy became president, even though he doesnt have a cabinet role called a minister a liar. This sparked a minor governmental crisis and the minister eventually exited the cabinet.

Israeli
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his son Yair visiting the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Photograph: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

Yair Netanyahu, the eldest son of Israels prime minister, is also adept at being awful online. Last month he went on a racist rant on Twitter saying that there is no such thing as Palestine because the letter P does not appear in the Arabic alphabet. Yair, a man with the intellectual capacity of a half-dead moth, didnt seem aware that Palestine is the Anglicised version of the Arabic word falasteen. He also didnt seem to have considered, as various people pointed out, that theres no J in Hebrew. Which, by his impeccable logic, would mean theres no such thing as a Jewish person.

While all he wants is Daddys approval, the IAS is a constant embarrassment and frequent liability to his father. Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, for example, has built a bloody brand around executing anyone who has anything to do with drugs. It has proved more than a little awkward, then, that his eldest son, Paolo, is constantly being linked to the drug trade. In 2017 Paolo resigned as vice mayor of Davao, after being accused of having links to a drug smuggling case. And earlier this year a video accusing Paolo of receiving payoffs from a drug syndicate circulated online. Duterte has stood by his son for now, saying that the video is propaganda disseminated by his enemies. Nevertheless, one imagines he cant be very happy; he has previously said that hell have his son killed if it turns out he is involved in drugs.

Yair has proved similarly embarrassing for Netanyahu, who has spent years embroiled in allegations of corruption, bribery and fraud. Last year Israeli TV aired a secret recording of a 2015 conversation between Yair and a couple of friends outside a strip club. My dad made an great deal for your dad, bro, Yair was recorded telling the son of an Israeli gas tycoon. He fought in the Knesset for this, bro he arranged $20bn for your dad, and you cant spot me 400 shekels [85]? The gas deal being referenced had been criticised as being corrupt, so Yairs boasting didnt do his dad any favours.

The fact that the worlds most awful leaders have been cursed with awful offspring might be mildly amusing were it not for nepotism. It doesnt matter if the likes of Carlos, Don Jr, Paolo and Yair can do no right, they are still the son of men who have no problem elevating their unqualified offspring into important positions.

This new generation of morons have a good chance of running and ruining the world; becoming even more incompetent and unpleasant versions of their dads. To paraphrase Philip Larkin: they fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had, and you become a threat to political stability too.

Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist and brand strategist based in New York

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