Trump uses simple language; simplicity good for some things but not for being president…

August 12, 2016

It seems pointless to comment on Donald Trump or even Hillary Clinton but maybe I can move on with my next post. For now I just want to say that Trump is appealing to the modern-day Know Nothings. And I am referring to the so-called Know Nothings before Lincoln, who were anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic populists. Today’s crowd is primarily anti-immigrant and anti-intellectual and would rather know nothing. Sometimes it might be handy to be simplistic and not cloud your mind with complex thoughts — it really depends upon the task at hand. But being president of the United States, the beacon of freedom throughout the world and the super power of the world, and our own nation if all that is not enough, should require the ability to process complex thoughts and to convey them in speech.

(And I am not talking Adlai Stevenson or Jimmy Carter or Jeb Bush intellectual — I mean intellectualism can itself be problematic at times.)

It kind of reminds me of my own challenge in learning a foreign language (I have attempted three but have settled on Spanish). While I have learned enough to convey simple requests or thoughts when I want to go farther I frequently find myself at a loss for words and phrases and I end up working around it by using the simple ones I know. Works for ordering a beer, but not so good for explaining what I think about certain subjects and being able to back up what I think. And now I have to rob from a post I have not yet posted: I was in Spain and doing my best to converse in Spanish at a dinner at someone’s home, and most of the people there either did not speak English or only a little. Someone wondered aloud what the fascination with guns among those in the U.S. was all about. I tried to explain something about the Second Amendment using Spanish. I could not get much beyond the fact that we hang our right to keep and bear arms on that amendment in the constitution. Really all I said was that the right is in our constitution. But I could not give the theory behind it or even arguments as to the interpretation or even the ambiguity of the Second Amendment. Actually I don’t think I translated the word amendment. I just said constitution (constitución). So the point is, one needs to speak at a slightly higher level to discuss such matters intelligently.

In the last news cycle, Trump has made the simplistic (if absurd) claim that President Obama and Mrs. Clinton “created ISIS” (the terrorist group). I think it was reported this morning that he backed away a little and said he was being sarcastic. I guess the idea is that he meant through their policies they helped create the conditions for it to grow and thrive (even though I heard him stick to the original blunt statement with one sympathetic interviewer — and that is Trump’s method, keep everyone confused as to what he means so he cannot be pinned down). But for a whole news cycle he kept to the stark claim that they purposely created it (I actually don’t know at this time what his current line is). And this follows a pattern. Trump just utters absurd and simplistic statements without complexity and without nuance.

UPDATE: So after originally posting this, later in the day I run across the following, concerning the Trump ISIS accusation, in Politico:Hours after stating his claim of Obama as the founder of ISIL was “sarcasm,” Trump says maybe it wasn’t.

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Another demagogic device he uses is to say things like: “I’ve heard it said”. In this way he does not obligate himself to back a statement up by citing any sources and even admits by inference or implication that it might or might not be true, with the implied emphasis on it is true — and he adds a shrug of the shoulders and a wink of the eye and a sardonic, lopsided smile.

For professional journalists who, despite what many people think, were schooled with the idea that one must be objective in straight news reporting (as opposed to commentary or editorializing), it is hard to impossible anymore to be objective when it comes to Mr. Trump. He just says absurd things or flat-out lies and the lies are so obvious. The rule in objective journalism (I took journalism in college) is to print what the man said but try to balance it with what the other side said. Sometimes it is legitimate to point out inconsistencies by putting in what is called background — in other words, facts that tend to point out discrepancies in what someone said — but that is full of peril because too much background is often interpreted by the reader or observers of your reporting as bias.

(It is somewhat difficult for me to comment on today’s journalism because my experience was in print — even as broadcast had really taken over — and before the introduction of the internet and social media. Methods have changed and the lines between straight reporting and commentary have blurred to the extent they are often not even visible.)

But when someone says something that is on its face a lie or outright crazy it seems absurd to just report it and let it stand. But in Trump’s case one would have to spend all of his time trying to explain what he might have meant or why he seems to be in error or why he might be spreading falsehoods. You would write more words in explanation than about what he really said. He does speak in choppy sentences void of various parts of speech, such as verbs.

And for balance, I have to say that Mrs. Clinton constantly couches her answers to questions in legalese like the lawyer she is. She would probably not think she was telling outright lies as much as simply not unnecessarily or unwisely admitting things — as in everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.

Barring some unforeseen new scandal or new facts in her present scandals, Mrs. Clinton would seem the only clear choice for president, unless for whatever reason one just can’t stomach voting for her.

She is intellectual and knowledgeable about the nation and world, while Mr. Trump has constantly demonstrated he is not. His skills are more in entertaining (even if I personally don’t see it), questionable real estate deals, using the bankruptcy courts, and using other people’s money. He would flunk a class on civics or world affairs. More than that he would be dangerous as the leader of the world’s only super power.

The polls indicate some prefer Trump’s lies over the lies of others…

July 30, 2015

Donald Trump continues to confound the pundits by leading in the polls of Republicans in a super crowded field. He even leads Jeb Bush, who anyone would guess will be the ultimate nominee.

Actually, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is currently polling just ahead of Bush.

(Trump 20 percent of sample Republican voter responses, Walker 13, Bush 10)

But in current polling on matchups for the general election, as the Daily Kos blog put it: “Everybody beats Trump and Hillary beats everybody”.

Back to the Trump phenomenon:

I read the other day that one must remember that when a poll is cited it is measuring a snapshot in time which usually has been taken a couple of weeks or so prior. And I think it is correct to say that even though Trump is riding on top of the Republican heap of candidates the polls were taken before some of his latest controversial statements and stories of his past indiscretions.

And the biggee to me is what one story noted, many who answer poll questions may not be likely voters.

I have run across several  people in my lifetime who spout off stuff about politics, right and left, but who have never or at least seldom voted.

Nonetheless, it would be wrong to deny Trump is not having some success and an effect on the presidential race.

And it’s strange how some supposedly potential voters complain about how politicians lie and then will turn around and support a man with a proven track record of being less than honest. “He tells it like it is,” is the common phrase used by supporters. Well perhaps he does find things that push the right buttons in the minds of some of the disgruntled, but does he really have a solution? He does not even attempt to spell that out, so far at least.

My speculation, though, is that when the going gets tough Trump will move on.

I would speculate his appeal is because voters are jaded and worn out and super cynical. They are tired of talk and no action and empty promises or action with unclear results — I mean we do have some form of national health care now, but it seems rife with problems and way complex. We do have a peace agreement with Iran but we do not know how good or effective it is and whether we have just been bamboozled.

And the economy — well take your pick. We are doing great. We are not. It’s situational. We could do better (that’s a catch-all).

And how did Willie Brown put it this morning on KGO Radio in San Francisco? He said the flamboyant real estate mogul is a super salesman who will lie to you, overcharge you, and then not deliver. Even so, Brown, the former state speaker of the assembly and mayor of San Francisco, observed that Trump seems to have some kind of hold on people he cannot explain.

Personally, I think those who claim to support him do so more as a protest vote against all others.

It will be interesting to see how Trump does in the upcoming Aug. 6 debate on Fox.  Will he come off as more serious and thoughtful or will he continue with his normal bombast and invective and platitudes with no substance whatsoever, and for that matter little truth? He is into the big lie. He’s a salesman…


And maybe the Trump candidacy does serve some useful purpose. I mean if his opponents cannot out debate him they don’t deserve to win. So maybe it will make them better, help them polish up their acts.

But if they do outshine him in debate and he still wins the votes in the end, the voters will have deserved what they have created, except I won’t because nothing in the world could ever make me vote for such a person.





I actually do try to proof my own stuff before posting it but sometimes stuff just slips by. I made a lot of small corrections in word usage and syntax and so forth on my last post (the looking for a gift in the big city one) about 24 hours or more after first posting it. Hope it reads better now.