May 23, 2018
Trump’s White House totally means to sound spectacularly dumb
by Susan Rella
Sure, why not?
They can ask the Department of Justice to investigate the Department of Justice. They can claim “alternative facts.” They can say there’s been no interaction whatsoever between the Trump campaign and Russia. They can make someone who has never actually practiced law a judge for life.
At this godforsaken point, when a literal sinkhole to the abyss has opened up on the White House lawn, why wouldn’t this piece-of-shit administration say the grammatical mistakes in their tweets are deliberate gestures of “authenticity”?
It sure couldn’t be that they’re a bunch of idiots whose lawyers can’t spell “predisent.” Can’t be because they’re the embodiment of an education department that has no idea how to spell W.E.B. Du Bois. Totally nothing to do with how the purported leader of the free world Capitalizes his Tweets like he’s a goddamned SpongeBob meme personified. Unpresidented. Covfefe. Our beloved first lady, Melanie. The holy hellfire beauty that was the State of the Uniom printed ticket.
Typos, you say? Evidence of stupidity? A nonstop showcase of hurried incompetence? A poetic parable for the dying of an empire? No, you fools! Oh, how they’ve tricked you! The genius masterminds behind Donald Trump’s exquisitely crafted persona have pulled the wool over your eyes. According to Annie Linskey, who wrote about the president’s mangled English this week in the Boston Globe, “West Wing employees who draft proposed tweets intentionally employ suspect grammar and staccato syntax in order to mimic the president’s style, according to two people familiar with the process.”
OK. OK, listen. Maybe we can be grammar fanatics (suck it up, cupcakes, we’re publishers), but we also know and understand that language is fluid and evolving. It always has been. We’re fine with linguistic leeway, and sometimes we even need it ourselves. This is precisely what makes language such a miraculous tool, an asset for us all; never obsolete, never passé.
But what Trump and his staff are doing isn’t just butchering the rules of grammar (though, I mean, that too); they’re decimating the perception of spontaneity. These tweets, apparently crafted with great care, sacrifice intellect for all-caps, rationality for exclamation points. They perpetuate the myth that the presidential man-baby who shits on a gilded toilet is One of Us, not One of Them, that he is an anti-elitist commoner who can stick it to the well-heeled, well-established East Coast <<globalists>> his supporters love to hate. The poor English is being used, in other words, as the most ridiculous of dog whistles. As Linskey notes, “some staff members even relish the scolding Trump gets from elites,” prodding the monster of respectable discourse to fire up their Fuck Your Feelings base.
And the sad thing is, they’re probably not lying. This isn’t some elaborate cover-up designed to hide the fact that, yes, the commander-in-chief does send out all those tweets himself, and yes, he is honestly that fucking stupid. No. This is just a pathetic example of dropping to the lowest denominator possible. Rather than teaching the superior genetic material comprising Donald Trump’s brain how the English fucking language works, these people are mashing up their own verbal skills to match their predisent’s. Rather than hold our leader to a slightly higher standard, some of the highest-ranking public officials in the country are finely tuning their derp to match His Majesty in the Oval Office. Because the sad truth is, these misspellings let the worst of us find Trump relatable, and that in turn allows him to posture as some sort of populist Man of the People, when he’s absurdly not that.
Hey, Melanie. Got a great candidate for your “Be Best” campaign. You can probably find him in his bathrobe, right about now, Fox & Friends on the flat screen, picking from the list, Nero-like, of staff-supplied pseudo-Trump tweets at his disposal to deliver to the masses. Please, please, make America great again and do be best on him.
Susan Rella is the managing editor at Melville House, and a former bookseller.