The hyperbole of TrumpSpeak

The evening news was preempted last night by the semi-regular press conferences of “President” Trump, in which he and his acolytes report on the state of the pandemic. I watched the whole thing, repulsed as I was by the man, because I was also fascinated by his language. As usual, his speech was larded with self-praise, denigration of the press, exaggerated claims and—what really struck me—the repeated use of hyperbolic adjectives like “incredible,” “fantastic”, “tremendous”, “wonderful”, “amazing” and “great.” (The adjectives were applied to those responding to the pandemic, but also to his pals in general, like Rand Paul, who now appears to be infected.)

I don’t think for a minute that Trump means what he says. Yes, the response of doctors and the National Guard has been admirable, but do you really think Trump cares enough about the issue to praise people sincerely? I don’t: I think he’s thinking only of himself. If he really cared about this crisis, he would have gotten ahead of it a long time ago, avoided minimizing it, and taken the advice of the experts. What Trump is worried about most is what he sees when he looks in the mirror.

My question is this, and it’s a psychological one: “Why is Trump so liberal in his use of these hyperbolic adjectives?” Does he think that by using them he’s going to get people on his side, people who think that he’s sincere? What about the man’s pathology prompts him to over-praise in this way, and then, when someone falls from grace, turn his adjectives into pejoratives?  All I know is that watching him makes me ill, like an extended vision of Narcissism on Parade, and one of the worst parts is the insincerity instantiated by his fulsome words of praise.

(The other thing that struck me was his unnecessary antagonism toward the press last night. They were asking reasonable questions, and he went out of his way to diss both the press and the reporters.)

Narcissist Trump published January 13, 2017 by Adam Zyglis politicalcartoons.com. Source.

107 Comments

  1. merilee
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    A nauseating man in every way🤢

    • Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      Except to his many acolytes, who find him refreshing. Go figure.

      • merilee
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        In the way one might be refreshed by gargling
        with sewage?

  2. GBJames
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    The country would be better off if news media would decline to show his daily preening sessions. He is a public health disaster, best ignored.

    • sugould
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      Or, maybe they should see his pre-performance ritual. Somebody’s got to be applying that make up, glueing the hair down, and making the corpulent body look presentable to a camera.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Yes, if you watched that entire thing yesterday you have a stronger stomach than I. I guess he is not going to take Maddow’s advice and stay away from the briefings.

    I will watch Cuomo’s in the morning and that is about it. At least he knows the subject and also answers question with intelligence and honesty. Things that Trump no nothing about.

  4. Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Also the fawning of his acolytes who joined him at the microphone “You sir, made my job a lot easier!” Lets all share a moments’ barfing over that one.

    • merilee
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      And he’s recently dragged Ben Carson up there to be his token black/brain surgeon.

  5. Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Because hyperbollocks is all he knows.

  6. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    I think he thinks his use of hyperbole is going to change people’s minds, and I think he’s right too.

    Self-belief is an astonishingly powerful thing: it doesn’t just power the person who has it, it attracts others too, and makes them confident.

    It’s a psychological heuristic: we assume that if someone is incredibly confident there’s probably a reason for it.

    With his bullshit sunny-side-up blathering he creates a kind of shaky, film-set alternate reality; it’s liable to come crashing down at any moment, but by the time it does he’s built another one and he’s living there instead. And his followers live there too.

    • dogugotw
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Agreed. He is, first and foremost, a salesman. You never talk bad about ‘the product’ so he’s just continuing the linguistic patterns he’s used before.

    • Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      Yep. And thanks to our primate nature, if someone shows up with dominant and decisive body language and says “I’m the boss here and I know what to do,” many people will be pleased and submit. (And of course, that’s often a healthy reaction.)

    • Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      Reminds me of the reality distortion field. From Wikipedia:

      “…a term first used by Bud Tribble at Apple Computer in 1981, to describe company co-founder Steve Jobs’ charisma and its effects on the developers working on the Macintosh project.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality_distortion_field

      • Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        I’m sure Jobs had lots of charisma but I also have seen when it didn’t work. I was at the roll-out of the NeXT Computer and he tried to take questions over lunch. Many software executives asked how we were going to deliver software to customers if his new machine didn’t have a floppy drive. His reaction was kind of Trumpian in that he blamed the servers making too much noise and left in a hissy fit.

    • TJR
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      Trump is a Pratchett character.

      Unfortunately we don’t seem to have a Lord Vetinari to get rid of him.

  7. TJR
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Despite the crisis its a good time to be a world leader, because anybody looks good in comparison to Trump.

  8. drakodoc
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I think he has a low intellect evidenced by a very limited vocabulary. He almost NEVER uses words more than 3 syllables. His language appears to be hyperbole at either end of the spectrum (great, best, tremendous) or (loser, weak, low energy).

    • Greg Geisler
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      Agreed. He substitutes superlatives for intellect. And he’ll also often over-enunciate words because he thinks it makes him sound smart.

      The best word I can think of that sums up his style is: circumlocution.

      Circumlocutor In Chief

      • phoffman56
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

        Or, Lying Asshole in Chief.

      • Filippo
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        He’s certainly not the Circumspector in Chief.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      Yes, he cherishes some words of three syllables: “fantastic”, “tremendous”, “wonderful”, “amazing” , because he uses few of them; they are his pearls. More than three he often garbles. Especially when reading from a teleprompter, he just makes BS up on the spot, that’s why we get ‘revolutionary airfields’.
      Reading about Mt Trump is bearable when you play Handel’s Concerti Grossi (eg) at the same time. You know civilization is not lost and that Trump and Trumpism will pass. At least that is how I cope.

    • Posted March 23, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      And don’t forget perfect – seems to be a favorite.

  9. Draken
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    He seems to be under severe stress, and the only way out he seems to know is doubling down. I assume he’s never felt the need to say sorry or admit defeat, and now it would be fitting, he just can’t.

  10. Sarah
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    He reminds me of something Victor Klemperer noticed in the mid-30s about Hitler. (I do not mean to make any comparison here between Trump and Hitler! Just the language habit of self-obsessed people.) He noticed that everything was the biggest/best/first ever in the world. Klemperer thought it was an “Americanism”, meaning a sort of overblown advertising-speak or circus hyperbole. Later he wrote a book about the language of the Third Reich based on the notes he had made. Maybe everything a narcissist touches has to be one extreme or the other.

    • phoffman56
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      “I do not mean to make any comparison here between Trump and Hitler”

      Maybe you should. The death tolls directly attributable to the two may not be all that different from each other in the end.

    • Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Trump is, as you say, no Hitler –apart from his psyche not having being damaged by war, he is far too ignorant and his attention span far too short for him to carry out extended complicated planning.

      But he certainly provides a new context for understanding Hitler. It is horrifying watching a country disintegrate in this manner.

      Luckily for the US so far, Trump also doesn’t really know what fascism is either, or how to operate it. And maybe, not having been in a war and not having seen killing close up, his violent impulses are probably limited to watching fascinated as North Korea delivers a dying torture victim home to the US, or a journalist is dismembered, or wishing Mitt Romney’s lungs burst.

      The longer he is there, the more his personality will infect proceedings.

      My apologies if this comment is too dark for daytime viewing, or too alarmist or seems self-indulgent.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        One thing you notice about him is that, contrary to the beliefs of his supporters, he’s not actually a ‘fighter’. That is to say, not in the traditional way, of someone who enjoys face-to-face conflict, doesn’t shy away from it.

        He’s actively afraid of that kind of conflict. There are numerous stories about his reluctance to fire people face-to-face. He gets someone else to do it for him.

        What he is good at is a kind of passive-aggressive cattiness. Generally it’s done when the person isn’t in the room, ie. by tweet, and when he has a group of sycophants to applaud his insults. If it is done in a room he often turns away from the person and affects a kind of haughty, ‘I’m above this’ demeanour, and then tries to talk over them.

        Think about all the times when he’s been most scathing about another person, most bitingly critical, and tot up the number of times the other person was actually in the room…it’s not high.

        Which is the long way to say; he’s a coward. He is a mental and physical coward.

        • EdwardM
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

          Absolutely spot on. The man is a coward of the worst sort. A fucking orange malevolent coward. With tiny hands.

          I try not to waste neuron-time on the shit but sometimes I can’t stop myself from watching.

  11. Greg Geisler
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Maggie Haberman co-authored a piece in the Times (I rarely read her as she is so soft on Trump) that sums it up nicely: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/21/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-leadership.html

    It’s been Trump’s modus operandi his entire life. He’s a bullshitter of the highest order and it has worked for him. He needs to craft an amazing story not only to sell himself and his weak ideas and cover for his failures, but he also needs the narrative to believe in himself because he is so deeply insecure.

    The excessive superlatives and shameful self-congratulatory remarks, the constant need to blame his failures on Obama, it’s not only nauseating—it’s going to be responsible for people dying. Some people say he has dementia or that he is on something but personally I think he is just a really despicable human being.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      He is the uber-weasel. That is his defining characteristic – weaseling out of things. It’s his greatest talent, he’s really, really good at it.

      Look at the nuclear wasteland of failure he’s left in his wake over the last three decades: multiple bankruptcies, failed casinos(casinos!), failed marriages, scam universities, massive unpaid loans from the late noughties…

      …And the one person who walks free of all this chaos, time and time again, is Donald Trump. While other people pick up the cheque.

      He is the king of the weasels. Which might explain why he has one living on his head at all times.

      • merilee
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        You need to design a SuperWeasel t-shirt and hat.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

          The problem is that it’s a bit too much like a compliment. He’d start wearing them.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      He’s a despicable human being with pre-existing narcissistic personality disorder, no argument there, but if you compare his speech now to say 20 years ago, you see how much he’s been deteriorating. My ‘working diagnosis’ is tertiary syphilis, neurosyphilis. He’s had syphilis (his personal Vietnam) and was insufficiently treated. It kinda fits.

      • Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:53 am | Permalink

        “insufficiently treated”

        For sure.

      • phoffman56
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        Or perhaps it has ‘insufficiently treated’ him, as it would have done a few centuries ago with no scientific medicine.

    • phoffman56
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      “I rarely read her as she is so soft on Trump.”
      Actually I think Haberman is a very good reporter and sticks to factual information more than most. She likely has thought in the past that Drumpf would soon enough hang himself with his own narcissistic, incompetent, lying ‘rope’. Maybe not so much anymore, when she sees tens of millions of nitwit Usian voters actually raising his rating after learning details about his crimes.

  12. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    It is a rule to count on that this president never does or does not do anything unless there is something for him to gain personally from it.

    All campaigns are suspended… all but one. Can anyone guess which single campaign rally carries on with even larger audiences than before?

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      The notion of the press conferences as campaign rally is not mine – I saw it in one of the headlines out there.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        There is something weird there. Mr Peter Alexander handed him a ‘present on a plate’ question, a ‘softball question’, the kind of question any leader would be begging for, a question that invited him to look ‘presidential’ easily, and instead he goes off his rocks, lost it completely.
        I suspect that Mr Alexander angered Mr Trump with an earlier question? Or what?

        • rsa4046
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

          It *was* weird, this was my first reaction too. But in reflection, this may simply reflect the increasing paranoia attending psychopathic narcissism, which twists even the most banal into a threat. Elizabeth Mika[1] writes of the connection between tyranny and narcissism, and predicts that paranoia and impulsivity increase over time once the tyrant manages to occupy a position of ultimate power. And because the tyrant narcissist lacks the natural brake provided by a conscience, this feedback also sets the stage for his ultimate collapse. It cannot come too soon.

          1. https://medium.com/@Elamika/tyranny-as-a-triumph-of-narcissism-76b6fec76d0d

        • Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

          I think Alexander did piss Trump off with an earlier question. Alexander often asks questions that he knows Trump doesn’t want to answer. Of course, that’s his job.

          This question requires an empathetic answer. Alexander knows that Trump has no empathy so will find this question difficult. Alexander also knows that it is a reasonable question to ask a president so, in effect, he has built-in cover for asking it. In Trump’s mind, respectful reporters wouldn’t ask him questions that they know he doesn’t want to answer, so that makes Alexander’s question disrespectful. I would guess that a Fox or OANN reporter would never ask him this question, even though it’s a reasonable question that any other president would welcome.

          • rickflick
            Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

            Not to mention that he probably has a running feud going on with Alexander’s approach to questioning over a long period. tRump probably knows Alexander has detected a weakness and poses questions that are designed to frustrate. tRump is primed for defense.

  13. Neil Wolfe
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Maybe he spent too much time
    in this thing.

    All silliness aside, it occurred to me that our current situation is not unlike the 9/11 attacks except we know the planes are coming and what they intend to do with them. But this time the death toll will be much higher. Those who say COVID-19 is no big deal are saying that the people in the WTC should just carry on with their day. Anyone who was around on 9/11 would gladly practice social distancing if it saved lives on that day. Why not today?

    • Greg Geisler
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      My guess would be the extreme political polarization that exists today. The Fox news misinformation contributes to that.

      According to a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll, 62% of Republicans say the seriousness of the coronavirus is generally exaggerated in the news while only 31% of Democrats share that same feeling.

      We share a common enemy in the coronavirus but the Trumpers view the Libs as the bigger threat.

      • Neil Wolfe
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        Sadly, yes. I do wonder how letting so many people die from a virus fits in with their pro-life stance.

  14. SRM
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Yes I agree with the limited vocabulary idea. Notice that he often precedes descriptors with “very” and then “very, very” because he has no other synonyms at his disposal.

    But what really bothers me about him is his similarity to probably every fascist in history – always appealing to and stoking the worst and most base tendencies in humans. Paranoia, Xenophobia, distrust of expertise, us against them – all easy to inflame in a populace esp when societal norms become strained.

    • merilee
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      If he were a competent authoritarian it migh not be quite as bad…

      • merilee
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        I don’t mean competently authoritarian, but competent at anything else.

  15. Jenny Haniver
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I think it’s part of the con man’s arsenal. Fulsome praise is like catnip to some people, whether it’s about them personally or things they care about. When hyperbolic adjectives or other forms of flattery are applied to them, and one is around them, one can see the abject gleam gratification in their eyes and there’s a bit of physical as well as well as psychological puffery. I find it completely off-putting and am immediately suspicious of those who employ such blandishments (or blarney, if you will).

    BTW; There is the meme “Trump will forever be known as the president so full of shit that the entire country ran out of toilet paper” but I got the following quote that must become a meme straight from @realDonaldTrump, posted by one Jeremy Newberger, a political satirist @jeremynewberger 12h: “I’m not sure the cure to a disease that comes from bat shit is to follow a guy who is bat shit crazy.” I like this just as well if not better.

    • merilee
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      “Bat shit crazy” +many

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        That prompts me to post this link to an article about “China’s bat woman” (not used in a pejorative or racist sense nonetheless an unfortunate appellation), who, though she deals with bats and shit is decidedly not bat shit crazy or full of guano. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-chinas-bat-woman-hunted-down-viruses-from-sars-to-the-new-coronavirus1/. I’ve just begun reading it. Will be in touch.

        • merilee
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

          My dad got the nickname Bat Shit Olson from some of his Stanford classmates when he had to collect guano in the Galapagos, I believe, for a geology course.

  16. Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    The pandemic has to frustrate Trump no end. His whole world consists of fighting his perceived enemies but none of his tactics work against this one. He can slam the reporters but even they are mostly immune on this subject. They are reporting on many things that Trump can’t filter away from the public. And it is only going to get worse as people in the US will see the results of the disease all around them. Right now, he can still partly get away with calling it fake news as most people don’t know anyone with the disease (I don’t), let alone know someone who died from it. All we know about directly are the measures taken against the disease, not the disease itself. That will change.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      “The pandemic has to frustrate Trump no end.”

      That’s not what I see – it looks like he’s relishing this opportunity to cast the Fantasyland spell far and wide – he’s up there thinking he’s got it made, as long as he keeps to the rules of Fantasyland- people love a good humbug, they want to believe, and what you want to be true depends only on just believing it is true.

      • Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        I think both can be true. Sure, Jared convinced him that his best course was to become a “wartime” president and that’s what he’s trying to do. But that’s not really working as people will still get the bad news from other sources. Only at the beginning of the pandemic can he influence anything. Once people see others around them getting sick and dying, nothing he says will change their attitudes. He has already lost control of the stock market. Every move he’s made has more or less been ignored by investors. Companies are also doing what they need to do based on their own knowledge, not what Trump tells them.

  17. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Trump went on twitter late last night to praise his “friend” Rand Paul who has tested positive for COVID-19. <While his test results were pending, Paul (who is an ophthalmologist and, thus, holds an MD degree) recklessly used the senate gym and swimming pool (which are officially closed), thereby exposing several other senators, who are now under self-quarantine while determining whether they have the virus.

    Among those so quarantined because of his contact with Paul is Mitt Romney (who, as you may recall, was the only Republican senator with the chutzpah to vote to convict Trump during the his impeachment trial). At his presser yesterday, Trump sarcastically said it would be “too bad” if Romney (who at 73 is in a vulnerable group) caught coronavirus.

    What kind of deranged person thinks and speaks and acts this way?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Trump’s now good friend Rand Paul would be the same Rand Paul who, like every other Republican candidate to run against Trump for the 2016 nomination, repeatedly questioned Trump’s character and fitness to hold the presidency.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        As an ophthalmologist one would think he would see clearly. Alas….
        I note Mr Assad is also an ophthalmologist. Those two kinda worry me.

        • revelator60
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

          As noted author and ophthalmologist Conan Doyle wrote, “When a doctor goes wrong he is first among criminals.”

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      I wonder what the libertarian consensus is on social distancing and the role the government plays in a situation like this?

      • GBJames
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        It probably depends on whether you ask for the opinion before or after the infection is diagnosed.

      • rickflick
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

        Didn’t Paul vote against the corona relief package? As a libertarians he should refuse governmental medical support. He’s a doc, he can treat himself.

  18. Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    My take is that he’s just doing what all motivational speakers do — “ABC: always be closing.”

    The goal of every interaction is to close the deal.

    Hence the constant cheap sales pitch on everything. It’s all he knows how to do, so he winds up doing it for every announcement, whether it’s a tax plan or disaster relief.

    It’s really all he knows.

  19. Mark R.
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    “They were asking reasonable questions, and he went out of his way to diss both the press and the reporters.”

    Trump’s biggest enemy is the truth; he can’t stand it, it undermines his forced optimism and derails his self-aggrandizement. Dr. Fauci will probably soon be fired since his truth contradicts Trump’s “truth”. It’s why he only has “actors” in his administration. He’s been consistent in one thing during his presidency- those who speak the truth get side-lined or fired, those that kiss his shameless ass get to continue kissing his shameless ass and apparently they enjoy the stench.

  20. phoffman56
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I of course agree 100% with Jerry. The situation now is particularly poignant. But the same column could have been written anytime in the last 5 years.

  21. Historian
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Bandy Lee, a Yale psychiatrist, has written extensively on the mentally ill Trump. In a recent interview she has explained how dangerous he really is. Here are a few key quotes, although the whole interview should be read.
    —————

    “Trump is not in touch with reality. He cannot control the coronavirus with his mind and by living in a fantasy world, as he has done for most of the crisis.”

    “Now we in America and around the world are living through the horrible results of Trump’s behavior. His mental health issues are translating directly into deaths and widespread calamity.”

    “Trump actually wishes to hold on to the opposite of reality because he cannot tolerate reality as it exists. In truth, Trump is incompetent and not even able to engage in rational thinking. As such, the most threatening thing to a person whose mind works in such a way is science and facts. Scientific evidence and empirical reality are immutable. They do not change to fit Trump’s desires and whims. This is very threatening to Donald Trump.”

    “As others have pointed out, Donald Trump leads a cult. The Republicans and his other followers are Trump’s cult members.”

    “Trump’s delusions have been induced across an entire population of his supporters and other followers. Now an entire segment of the American people is delusional and detached from reality through Trump.”

    “Donald Trump has a pathological, authoritarian relationship with his followers. In that relationship they have lost their personhood, autonomy and even their ability to think for themselves. Trump’s followers are becoming more dependent, more conformist and more servile to him the longer he stays in power.”

    https://www.alternet.org/2020/03/yale-psychiatrist-explains-why-the-coronavirus-pandemic-and-donald-trumps-irrational-cult-is-a-deadly-combination/

    —————

    The Founders tried to prevent an unstable person such as Trump from gaining power. Their efforts succeeded until now. As has happened many times in the past, a demagogue can destroy a nation as the masses turn to a savior. Here, he co-opted an entire political party. The virus may cause the coup de grace of the American experiment.

    • EdwardM
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      What specific method that the Founders put in place “to prevent an unstable person such as Trump from gaining power” do you mean? I ask because one could argue that Trump is a predictable outcome of our form of government.

      • Historian
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        I think they had at least three things in mind:

        1. The Electoral College – they believed that by placing the election of president in the hands of wise electors rather than “the people” that demagogues wouldn’t be elected. Remember that at the time the Constitution was ratified, it was not assumed that the electors of the Electoral College would be chosen by popular vote. State legislatures had the power to determine how electors would be chosen.

        2. Checks and Balances – they believed that through this system no branch could become too powerful.

        3. Senators elected by state legislatures not directly by the people – they believed that the election of senators by state legislators would serve to prevent the federal government being dominated by the passions of the masses. The XVII amendment, ratified in 1913, called for senators to be directly elected by the people.

        There may be other mechanisms of government that the Founders thought would prevent the rise of demagogues, but they don’t come directly to mind. In any case, what the Founders hoped for no longer exists in 2020.

        • EdwardM
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

          I see. So in a sense, we’ve undone some of the protections they thought would help prevent a Trump. But I’m not of a mind to take their advice on this. I wouldn’t trust to the “wisdom” of appointed electors nor do I think Senators should be appointed.

          I guess we’re screwed.

      • Filippo
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        Was it the Electoral College? We see how well that worked. Why was it ever created? I hear noises from its defenders about putting small and large (in population) states on roughly an even keel in terms of political power. But was it not also because “The Beast” – the people, many if not most of whom were illiterate and ill-informed – could not be trusted to wisely vote in a direct election? I don’t know that literacy – and intellectual curiosity – has improved all that much since then.

  22. Sarah
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    When the scale of the disaster becomes apparent, who will he blame? China, of course, and perhaps the people who didn’t follow his very brilliant fantastic advice and failed to stay alive. It will most certainly be somebody else’s fault.

  23. bapu@arekapudi.com
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Trump is not alone. He was known to be the same persona before he was elected and remained the same after election. If he gets less than 40% of the vote in November it would be surprising. If he wins again it would be more surprising. I did not expect him to win before and he is not expected to win again. It is more important that at lease 35 to 40% of voting Americans still support him and what kind of people are these supporters? Even though Chicago was progressive during civil war, it was still very racist city during that time and even now remains basically a racist city. Mayor Harold Washington used to say Chicago is the most segregated city in the US.

    -Bapu

  24. Vaal
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    I know I’m not alone on this but…

    I can’t listen to Trump. It’s even hard to look at him. I find literally every thing about him repulsive.

    There is a bit of truth to the “Trump Derangement Syndrome” (though not the cynical form it’s used by Trumpites).

    For people with a conscience and who seek facts and consistency, Trump seems to incite an almost ancestral/reptilian repulsion response, like snakes for many people, or waking up to find a spider crawling up your arm.

    When he speaks I can’t follow what he says. It makes my mind flail in his lack of coherent speech pattern, and insofar as what he says constantly rebounds away from any facts as I know them. So it really is the closest thing to someone speaking babble, or white noise I’ve come across.

    I can’t find any facts or information in there SAVE for trying to pay attention to the possible effects of what he’s just said, or what he says he might do.

    But it’s just not like listening to any other normal person I know of.

    • merilee
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Ditto😖

    • Posted March 23, 2020 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Vaal – I am going to use some of this why my Hoosier relatives accuse me of TDS.

      • Vaal
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        Happy to help another Trump TDSer! 🙂

        The thing is that because Trump is a politician and of course represents a particular political party, especially today, any criticism is seen as necessarily political and partisan and is thus ignored.

        But it’s just not like that. I’m not even an American, I didn’t have a vote for any politician in the USA. It’s just a reaction to the type of person Trump is, and to the consequences it has for the position of power he holds.

        Sam Harris gets tons of grief every time he points to something insane about Trump and the implications/possible consequences. He just can’t make these observations without twitter-trump-bots…and even non-Trumpers!…accusing him of “making everything about politics.”

        But it’s as if a chimpanzee had been erroneously elected as President. “Well, he won fair and square so we have to deal with it.” The best his handlers and underlings can do is make ask “questions” of the chimpanzee and hold up boards with options or “yes/no” zones, and the chimp just flings it’s feces at the board now and then, and the answer is interpreted as to where the feces lands.

        This would be a situation that should be pointed out as crazy, consequentially so, every single day it exists. It would make no sense whatsoever for people to wave critiques of the situation off as “just partisan noise” or “a strange obsession with the Chimp President” or “Look, HE WON! We don’t need to hear more criticism. Deal with it!”

        It wouldn’t be politics: it would be just pointing out the chimp is utterly ill-suited to the task at hand, dangerously so!

        This is essentially what we have with Trump being so ill-suited to the needs of his position, especially during a crisis. But you just can’t point out the obvious without it being cast as rote partisan yapping.

        It’s such a crazy place to be.

        • Mark R.
          Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

          “Look, HE WON! We don’t need to hear more criticism. Deal with it!”

          A couple weeks ago I was behind a truck with this bumper sticker: “It’s Trump’s America. Fuck your feelings.” Indeed. He can spew lies and cause countless deaths, but to one of his cultists, those with a conscience are the problem. Just unfuckingbelievable. I too can’t listen to/watch him. There should be a bumper sticker (maybe there is): “I’m proud to be a healthy human infected with Trump Derangement Syndrome”.

    • Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      Similar to Catch-22’s “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”, having Trump Derangement Syndrome doesn’t mean he’s not a bad person. He bugs the hell out of me. Pretty much everything he says has something wrong or twisted in it.

      • merilee
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        And always so goddamned smug!

        • Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

          Yes, he’s supremely confident in how he speaks. You get the feeling that he really believes what he says. That’s clearly one of his superpowers.

          • ThyroidPlanet
            Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

            “You get the feeling that >>he really believes<< what he says. T”

            Precisely – it’s Fantasyland!

          • merilee
            Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

            Superpower of delusion.

      • merilee
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        And always so goddamned smug!

      • Mark R.
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

        Kurt Cobain used that quote to great effect in Nervermind’s Territorial Pissings.

    • Matt
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      Ditto.

    • rickflick
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      You will have to admit that tRump a great showman. He’s visually fascinating to watch. Like a cartoon character, he is an exaggeration of himself. If you don’t listen too closely for meaning, you think something’s happening. Even if you have to check yourself from being sick.

      I remember during much of Obama’s second term, once I knew his approach to delivering a speech. I no longer listened to much of it. A lot of it sounded bureaucratic and predictably bland and businesslike. There were no surprises (which is what politics should be). tRump is probably enjoyable to listen to for his many followers. For them, politics became exciting and fun as soon as someone thought of turning the presidency into a reality TV show.

      • Filippo
        Posted March 24, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        ” . . . Obama’s . . . approach to delivering a speech . . .A lot of it sounded bureaucratic and predictably bland and businesslike.”

        Just curious, if you’ve listened to at least a few of JFK’s speeches online, what is your thumbnail assessment of him?

        • rickflick
          Posted March 24, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

          I have not listened to JFK lately and I don’t remember him that well. However, the style in vogue at the time was much more formal and literate. We didn’t hear the informal, “folks will need to be a little bit patient”. So, JFK would have been more listenable. But, I accept that government should be dull and bureaucratic, not schizophrenic.

          • Sarah
            Posted March 24, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

            JFK spoke with wit and intelligence and modesty–the exact opposite of Trump.

            • rickflick
              Posted March 24, 2020 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

              Yes, that I remember. On the other hand he had a Boston Brahmin accent and projected a very classy image (also contrary to tRump). He wasn’t someone you thought you could have a beer with. Admired from a distance.

              • Sarah
                Posted March 24, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

                In spite of all that, he was widely said to have the “common touch”. The accent charmed the rest of the non-Bostonian country, and was affectionately imitated, notably by Vaughan Meader. His LP of Kennedy spoof dialogues was committed to memory by people who admired JFK. It all came to an abrupt end in November 1963….

              • rickflick
                Posted March 24, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

                True that.

  25. Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe you were able to watch his briefing. I tried to one day and quit five minutes in. I figured I’d wait for the transcript, which is not what I usually go for. However, he’s so damned hard to listen to. It reminds me of listening to a kid who is so excited about what happened today that he keeps tripping over his own tongue and can’t get the story out.

    Dump does that thing where he restarts sentences 2 or 3 times, interrupts his point to go after something else, and then backtracks to who knows what. It’s too damned confusing, and I salute the reporters who try their best to give it a shot and get the info out there, because they gotta be swallowing Excedrin after every press conference, trying to discern the drivel.

    Maybe this is why the few times I’ve seen a press conference and you see the reporters, they sure seem to perk up and write more enthusiastically when someone other than Dump is speaking at the podium.

    • Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      His followers would excuse his rambling and mistake-filled speech by admitting that he’s not a good speaker. This is partly why it is so frustrating to hear him talk. It isn’t really that hard to filter the mistakes, fill in the gaps, and tell what he really thinks. Unfortunately, the fumbling allows his followers to come up with plausible claims of what he really meant to say. Of course, they are only plausible if one hasn’t really been listening.

  26. Matt
    Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    The art of the deal. He’s talked this way for decades. Don the Con.

    I can’t watch him talk, I get too pissed off. Very low signal to noise ratio. He keeps undermining his experts, e.g., Fauci.

    Look at this tweet. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1242120391054757900

    Unbelievable.

    • merilee
      Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      Our local Toronto paper said that a bunch of Nigerians have died taking an anti-malarial drug. Not sure which they took and in which dose. When I visited my parents in Nigeria in the late 60s we had to take some kind of quinine drug once a week. One of my brothers got malaria anyway and missed a semester of prep school.

      • Mark R.
        Posted March 23, 2020 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

        It’s the anti-malarial drug Trump’s been pushing. Apparently very lethal if the dose isn’t exact. People who are sick and able to get the drug (apparently easy in Africa’s malaria inflicted regions) are self-administering and dying as a result. But, of course, the Don “takes no responsibility”.

  27. Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Don’t blame Trump. It’s not his fault: there is no Free Will!

    • Posted March 23, 2020 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      Yes, the November 2020 election is already part of future history. We have no control over how it comes out. Voters without Free Will aren’t really voting, they just think they are.


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