The Irony of Mr. Trump’s Rhetoric

An entire book could be (and perhaps has been) written on Mr. Trump’s rhetoric, something like Trump’s Towering Rhetoric.

I agree with Jim Gaffigan in a rant he posted when Mr. Trump was President: “Trump is a great salesman. Possibly the best salesman I’ve seen in my lifetime.” I agree. Although many people critical of Trump describe him as an idiot, dumb, or stupid, I believe he knows what he is about and succeeds very well in convincing about half the American population that he is what he says he is.

That’s salesmanship, and salesmanship involves rhetoric, which the Oxford dictionary defines as, “the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the exploitation of figures of speech and other … techniques.”

In my previous post, Lamentation for the 2024 Presidential Election, I remarked the following:

Meanwhile the Republicans—the majority of them—celebrate a man who lies profusely, who is a known sexual predator, who seldom speaks factually, who relentlessly spews superlatives, and who promoted the ruin of the democratic process in the 2020 presidential election.

One of my readers noted my inclusion of “relentlessly spewing superlatives” among grave moral failings. True, I did list superlatives as a failing. It’s not that superlatives are in any way immoral in themselves, but that marshaling superlatives in the service of constant, hyperbolic distortions of reality is damnable. Remember that according to Jesus, Satan is the father of lies, that lying is Satan’s native tongue.

Now that Mr. Trump has been found guilty on 34 felony counts in New York, I want to expand briefly on his use of language. Frankly, I am not interested in the verdict—which concerns a relatively minor offense and which may be overturned on appeal. What struck me more than the verdict was his habitual use of name calling and overgeneralization in his news conference the day after the verdict.

At one point he fell into the trap of the average youth pastor, using “literally” figuratively, saying some of the “witnesses…were literally crucified.” But that is by no means the ironic part.

Those of you who heard his comments will have recognized the echoes of his incessant rhetoric. It included the following. He calls those involved in the guilty verdict “bad people…sick people” one of which “looks like an angel but he’s really a devil,” another who is “a sleazebag.” He then claims “we’re living in a fascist state.” And concludes his description of President Biden as “crooked…he’s the worst president in the history of our country…and he’s the most dishonest president we’ve ever had.”

The irony of all these carefully chosen, fully unsubstantiated words, is that they are the very words the other half of the country readily applies to Mr. Trump himself. He reiterates the vocabulary by which he is often criticized: a bad person who lacks a moral compass; a narcissistic man; a devil who has convinced his followers he is an angel (some going so far as likening him to Jesus); a self-proclaimed sleazebag who denies his salacious behavior; a populist creeping toward fascism; and, in the opinion of many, the worst president (so far).

The irony is heightened by the fact that he appears entirely unaware of it. He is so engaged in blaming others that he is unable to admit the least degree of personal failure and in doing so he distances his own perceptions further from those of the outsiders who have not been sold.


For those of you who miss the non-political Gaffigan, here he is, characteristically making fun of himself before commenting on others:



Publishing Info
This post was first published on: May 31, 2024. If this article is significantly updated, the publication date beneath the title may change in order to bring current posts to the top of the directory.

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