Songs in the Key of Strife

A decade before the schmaltz of “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” Steve Wonder released a series of classic albums, perhaps the most acclaimed of which was Innervisions (1973). Innervisions is one of those albums that you have to immediately listen to again as soon as it’s finished; there’s perfection in every lyric, every note, every track.

The final track of Innervisions is “He’s Misstra Know-It-All,” a denunciation of a con artist who “Makes a deal/With a smile/Knowin’ all the time that his lie’s a mile”:

If you tell him he’s livin’ fast

He will say what do you know

If you had my kind of cash

You’d have more than one place to go…

“He’s Misstra Know-It-All” was widely believed to be Wonder’s response to Watergate, and the rhetorical repugnance of President Nixon:

When you say that he’s living wrong

He’ll tell you he knows he’s livin’ right

And you’d be a stronger man

If you took Misstra Know-It-All’s advice…

Listening to the song today, one can’t escape the sense that the lyrics apply equally to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump:

He’s a man

With a plan

Got a counterfeit dollar in his hand

He’s Misstra Know-It-All

Take my word

Please beware

Of a man that just don’t give a care

He’s Misstra Know-It-All…


Ponder for a moment the calamity that would likely occur in the event that Trump actually became President of the United States (and as Bill Maher recently noted, one cannot dismiss the prospect of Trump winning). Income inequality would increase to the point that members of the 99 percent wouldn’t even have enough money to shop at a 99-cent store. We would experience an economic collapse even worse than the 2008 financial crisis. American infrastructure would deteriorate at a tragic pace. Federal agencies would be staffed with the least competent, least qualified people imaginable. After just one term of a Trump administration, this country would basically turn to squalor.

The argument that Trump is a closet centrist is absolutely absurd. Would a closest centrist refer to Mexican immigrants as rapists, or suggest that Fox personality Megyn Kelly was on her period during the August 6 Republican presidential debate? As President, Trump would make George W. Bush look like Abraham Lincoln. The question is: if he does succeed Barack Obama as Commander-in-Chief, how long it will take before those who fell for Trump’s acerbic act denounce him with the words of another famous Wonder song allegedly aimed at Nixon–“You Haven’t Done Nothin’”?

UPDATE: Two suspects in an alleged Boston hate crime praise Donald Trump. More from the Boston Globe and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.

SECOND UPDATE: More from Bill Maher, David Pakman, the Globe and the New York Times.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.