Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in GOP language factories and fever swamps, Oct. 14-19, 2018

Democratic bloodlust

rhetorical claim: the majority of voters are now expressing about their extreme distaste for the Democrats’ bloodlust. They see it for what it is: there is no search for truth, it’s not about justice. It’s a well-orchestrated political hit-job designed to destroy a good man and accomplished judge because he represents an end to Leftist control of the Supreme Court which they have used since the 1930s as a super-legislature to force their radical, dehumanizing agenda on the country over the objections of the American people. At least they know what’s at stake. When looking back on the 1930s and Britain’s failure to rearm or oppose Hitler when it would have been easy, Churchill described the nation as having been ‘lost in a pacifist daydream.’ The same could be said for some Republican Senators who seem not to know that the new politics is, sadly, one of no holds barred political warfare. They need not engage in the immoral tactics of the Democrats, but they must at least recognize what they’re up against.

This will have an impact on the upcoming midterm elections—but not the way Democrats will hope. They envision their pussy-hat wearing legions descending on the polls and sweeping into power a host of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez clones and their “male allies.” “This is it comrades,” you can hear them say, “today we overthrow the patriarchy!” But no. They have done, once again, for Republicans what Republicans could not do for themselves: energize the base.

rhetorical effect: classic table-turning: in their no holds barred, Total War mode, the GOP accuses the Dems of the same. Dems are also smeared as “immoral,” “radical,” “dehumanizing” and Communists (“comrade”). Labeling  political opposition as “bloodlust” plays into the meme of the Dems as hypocrites who only care about getting and keeping power and also on the conspiratorial idea that the Dems want to “foist” their radical Leftism onto “the American people,” as if the Dems are un American people.


Donald Trump in Full

(aka, letting Trump be Trump)

rhetorical claim: Kellyanne Conway says it’s time to unleash Donald Trump in Full.

rhetorical effect: unfiltered, unedited, unleashed: the Full Donald just doubles down on lies, mendacity, cruel taunting, and the flouting of all moral norms. Expect the worst the next two weeks.


I never did anything wrong in the first place

I made the right decision at the time

I did it but it’s not illegal

rhetorical claim: President Trump is often accused of things he never did, such as collude with Russians, profited from government business with his companies, paid off Stormy Daniels with campaign funds, etc.

rhetorical effect: the Trump three-step retreat: 1) I never did it in the first place 2) I may have done it unwittingly because I was misinformed or trusted the wrong people 3) I did it but it isn’t illegal anyway.

Never admit you were wrong or made a mistake because you always want to appear strong.


being a baby

rhetorical claim: Trump says he never wants to appear to be a “baby.”

rhetorical effect: being a “baby” not only means being defenseless but also being civil, sympathetic, generous, tolerant, gracious, accommodating, cooperative and moral or ethical. The irony of course is that Trump is the ultimate enfant terrible. As William Galston puts it in the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Trump has a consistent way of judging people. Strong is good, weak is bad. Big is impressive, small is defective: “Little Marco.” Winners are admirable, while losers are contemptible. A corollary is that there is neither dishonorable victory nor honorable defeat, which is why Mr. Trump poured scorn during his candidacy on John McCain for having been captured — never mind McCain’s heroic conduct as a prisoner of war.


bourgeois values

rhetorical claim: minorities could overcome economic and educational disparities by embracing bourgeois values, including child-rearing within marriage, hard work, self-discipline on and off the job, and respect for authority. It’s quite revealing that Dems see the espousal of these values as “hate speech.” The late 1960s took aim at the bourgeois ethic, encouraging an antiauthoritarian, adolescent, wish-fulfillment ideal [of] sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll that was unworthy of, and unworkable for, a mature, prosperous adult society.” Today, the consequences of that cultural revolution are all around us: lagging education levels, the lowest male work-force participation rate since the Great Depression, opioid abuse, and high illegitimacy rates.

rhetorical effect: toxic racism, sexism, homophobia, tribalism, the erosion of standards of decency, tolerance and charity, and the encouragement of a Darwinian, winner-take-all society.


we don’t want to lose any jobs

rhetorical claim: when pressed on his denial of man-made climate change, Trump said,”I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs.” Trump also says that punishing the Saudis would cost lots of money and jobs in lost arms sales.

rhetorical effect: dollars before decency, today’s jobs before tomorrow’s earth. Trump indeed knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.


Trump’s unexpressed thoughts

rhetorical claim: Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana’s said, in relation to Trump’s characterization of Stormy Daniels as a “horseface”,  “We’ve all done something like that before.” To which Kennedy unhelpfully added that he believes the president “grows anxious when he has unexpressed thoughts.”

rhetorical effect: makes you realize that we are all trapped inside Trump’s id. conjures up the unsettling thought that we are now just prisoners trapped inside Trump’s rage and bottomless vindictiveness. The Trump Wound oozes bile and venom like some toxic, infernal volcano of the soul as his “unexpressed thoughts” sooner or later surface. Thus he defends Nazi sympathizers, Confederate generals, and murderous dictators the world over. Unlike with the Sphinx-like Obama, everyone already knows just what Trump really has on his mind, or maybe just lurking under it. Trump is truly the American id, unleashed, barely censored, and annihilating.


tough cookie

rhetorical claim: In praise of Montana congressman Greg Gianforte, President Trump said:

“Never wrestle him. You understand that? Never. Any guy who can do a body-slam. He’s my kind of,” said President Trump, mimicking the act of body-slamming someone,”he’s my guy. … So I was in Rome with a lot of the leaders from other countries … And I heard about it. And we endorsed Greg very early, but I had heard that he body-slammed a reporter.”

Applause and cheers rose from the audience.

“And he was way up. And he was way up, and I said … ‘Oh, this is terrible, he’s going to lose the election.’ Then I said, ‘Well, wait a minute, I know Montana pretty well, I think it might help him.’ And it did. Nah, he’s a great guy. Tough cookie.”

rhetorical effect: endorses physical assault of the media; encourages lawless violence and silencing of first amendment rights; further erodes civility and tolerance, and turns politics into an open war with no rules. It seems that in Trumptown you’re either a “baby” or a “tough cookie.”