Saturday, January 21, 2017

Day One: The Emperor

Day One: The Emperor Declares His Audiences “Biggest Ever!”

Poor Sean Spicer, the press secretary for President Trump.  Imagine for a minute his sudden epiphany of what life will be like in the next…well, however long he can take it.  The International Puppet Festival is in Chicago this weekend, but the approximation of realism in Washington fell far short in Spicer’s scolding tone and stern reading of an announcement that Trump's inauguration had the largest audience in history "both in person and around the globe."

Spicer: Do what?  Say What?

Trump: Ours was the biggest crowd – more than Obama.  The press lies!

Spicer: But…

Trump:  I was there and I saw them, way more.  It was terrific, amazing, big league…
                Just read what I sent…    

Having served previously as communications director for the Republican National Committee, Spicer finds himself now in a role that will rival the spins in the story of Rashomon.  Gambatte Ne, my friend.

So, in 24 hours, we see Trump’s non-departure from the profane, divisive, and puerile fascination with himself and all things himself.  A speech before the CIA is undermined by an impulsive need to defend himself from reports of a half million who have come to voice opposition to our electoral leader’s political and profane pronouncements.  In moments, Alec Baldwin may take to the air with another caustic and mocking portrayal of the President’s self-infatuated persona, and we can expect Tweets in the early morning hours.
Why an "alternative" would be the way the Donald sees it.  Wink, wink.

Or, even more bizarre, the appearance of Trump's spokesperson Kellyann Conway on early Sunday news media defending poor Spicer's precarious pronouncements with a malfunctioning eyelash and an "alternative set of facts."  A what?  Just what would an "alternative" to facts be?

A timely article in the New York Times today by John McWhorter offers some insights as to how we have become inured to the likes of Trumpian syntax – think the malapropisms and fumbled logic characteristic to George Dubya’s elocution.  Think also of the same kind of relaxed “talk” in our own conversations with our friends and neighbors. 

The truth is that President Trump’s choppy, rambling self-expression is not so exotic. A great many thoroughly intelligent people talk more like Donald Trump than they might know. What’s new is that someone who talks like this in public has become the president of the United States. Yet it isn’t surprising, and if we are not to spend the next four to eight years alternating between exasperation and confusion as he sounds off, we need to learn a new way of listening.

“The false starts, jumpy inserts and repetition — speech as montage — are all typical of casual speech as opposed to written language. The endless emphasis (“Believe me,” “big league”) is as well. All humans festoon their talk tic-style with assurances of sincerity such as “really” and “totally.”

More interesting is McWhorter’s take on how we might all learn to accept and deal with Trump’s styles of communication: his use of twitter, his over emphasis on simplicity and childish adjectives, his lack of specificity, etc.  All of this serves, of course, as a foil to the previous President’s measured and careful (if not overly formal) rhetorical conversation.

“Because it is novel that someone in the Oval Office can’t be bothered with trying to be articulate, President Trump’s speaking style is throwing off the news media. All understand that his speech is structurally ungraceful. It may be harder to grasp that Mr. Trump, as someone just talking rather than artfully communicating ideas, has no sense of the tacit understanding that a politician’s utterances are more signals than statements, vehicles meant to convey larger messages.”

Trying desperately to decipher what is meant, what it will mean, and getting it first; the news media jumps to any tweet like a fish to a sparkly lure thrown just within reach.  And, ridiculously, they present on air all the same pundits and representatives of various institutes to deconstruct the tweets as if they were the Voynich Manuscript. 

“So how should we listen to this man daily for years? First, we have to realize that his talking style isn’t as exotically barbaric as it looks on the page — the oddness is that it winds up on the page at all. And second, we have to understand that his fans’ not minding how he talks is symptomatic of how all of us relate to formality nowadays. Language has just come along with it.”

So, what age do you put the current occupant’s language levels at?  John  McWhorter has his own opinion.

Find it and the entire article here:

And, oh yes, enjoy Alec Baldwin.


  1. “Look, having nuclear—my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT, good genes, very good genes, OK, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart —you know, if you're a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, OK, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I'm one of the smartest people anywhere in the world—it's true!—but when you're a conservative Republican they try—oh, do they do a number—that's why I always start off went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune—you know I have to give my like credentials all the time, because we're a little disadvantaged—but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me—it would have been so easy, and it's not as important as these lives are nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what's going to happen and he was right—who would have thought—but when you look at what's going on with the four prisoners—now it used to be three, now it's four—but when it was three and even now, I would have said it's all in the messenger; fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don't, they haven't figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so, you know, it's gonna take them about another 150 years—but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us...” Donald J. Trump.

    Transcribed from this video, if anyone is interested in deciphering in real time what Trump said to his followers. The video is from a year ago (The DailyKos).

  2. Having listened to President Obama speak about "clean coal" for eight years and President-wanna-be Hillary Clinton talk about "safe fracking" during her campaign, I am sickened by political lies. Trump and his minions have gone beyond the pale into the realm of sociopathic, narcissistic, political lies. The "new reality" is worse than unreality; it is pure propaganda for purposes of asserting personal power.
    George Orwell is spinning in his grave.