Seeing as it’s Word Wednesday here at Affinity, what better day to review the atrocious mangling of language Trump indulges in? Todd Gitlin has an excellent article and review up of the Tiny Tyrant’s Art of the Non Sequitur, along with his working vocabulary, which is more suited to a toddler.
Once upon a time, there were presidents for whom English seemed their native language. Barack Obama most recently. He deliberated. At a press conference or in an interview — just about whenever he wasn’t speaking from a text — his pauses were as common as other people’s “uh’s.” He was not pausing because his vocabulary was impoverished. He was pausing to put words into sequence. He was putting phrases together with care, word by word, trying out words before uttering them, checking to feel out what they would sound like once uttered. It was important to him because he did not want to be misunderstood. President Obama valued precision, in no small part because he knew he lived in a world where every last presidential word was a speech act, a declaration with consequence, so that the very statement that the sky was blue, say, would be scoured for evidence that the president was declaring a policy on the nature of nature.
That was then. Now we have a president who, when he speaks, spatters the air with unfinished chunks, many of which do not qualify as sentences, and which do not follow from previous chunks. He does not release words into a stream of consciousness but into a heap. He heaps words on top of words, to overwhelm meaning with vague gestures. He does not think, he lurches.
Here are some examples from TIME’s transcript of their cover story made out of their phone interview with the president of the United States. I have italicized the non sequiturs, incomplete propositions, indefinite pronouns and other obscurities that amount to verbal mud.
I used to have sequential eyerolls over Bush Jr’s mangling of language: uninalienable, subliminabable, resignates, disregardered, impedent, misunderestimated, and so forth. Well, at least Bush tried for the big words. That’s better than a basic vocabulary of “bad, sad, bigly!”
And here’s a fine example of the Gibberish Takeover:
“I think the president is very well steeped in world affairs, especially Europe, NATO, all of the issues,” Spicer declared. “He was a leader in the effort to call Brexit, as you know.”
Spicer, however, did not explain how Trump led the “effort to call Brexit.”
“So, I think both on the EU and that, that’s that,” Spicer concluded.
How, exactly, does any of that answer the charge that the Tiny Tyrant is ignorant when it comes to world affairs? We are talking about the fucking idiot who presented Ms. Merkel with a bill, for fuck’s sake. He also didn’t have the slightest idea of what NATO is, or how it works. He was not a leader in the effort to call Brexit, although he did plenty of cheerleading for it. And what we get is: “So, I think both on the EU and that, that’s that.” WHAT IN THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN? Is everyone getting so damn stupid that such shite gets a pass, or worse, knowing nods?