WORD CANNON

I put a lot of effort into plowing through the transcript of Donald Trump's open ended interview with the editors of the Washington Post, and then more into trying to think of what to make of it. Despite the fact that it will be unpleasant, please do try to read it. You have to see it to believe it. It's…it's nothing. It's like a cannon that fires random batches of words at people. A representative passage:

HIATT: But just – given the Supreme Court rulings on libel — Sullivan v. New York Times — how would you change the law?

TRUMP: I would just loosen them up.

RUTH MARCUS: What does that mean?

[Crosstalk]

TRUMP: I’d have to get my lawyers in to tell you, but I would loosen them up. I would loosen them up. If The Washington Post writes badly about me – and they do, they don’t write good – I mean, I don’t think I get – I read some of the stories coming up here, and I said to my staff, I said, “Why are we even wasting our time? The hatred is so enormous.” I don’t know why. I mean, I do a good job. I have thousands of employees. I work hard.

I’m not looking for bad for our country. I’m a very rational person, I’m a very sane person. I’m not looking for bad. But I read articles by you, and others. And, you know, we’ve never – we don’t know each other, and the level of hatred is so incredible, I actually said, “Why am I – why am I doing this? Why am I even here?” And I don’t expect anything to happen–

"What would you do?"

"Something."

"What's something?"

"I don't know, I'll have to ask someone else."

About a third of the country is really excited at the prospect of this person getting in the White House.

OK, one more excerpt, the telling one:

But—and honestly, you know part of—I always say we have to be unpredictable. We’re totally predictable. And predictable is bad. Sitting at a meeting like this and explaining my views and if I do become president, I have these views that are down for the other side to look at, you know. I hate being so open.

So we should have a mentally unstable egomaniac – the Joker, in essence – running the military and the world's largest nuclear arsenal. You gotta keep 'em guessing! Be random and unpredictable so they never know what we might bomb the shit out of next! Who's "they"? Ah, it doesn't matter. We are best served by the rest of the world thinking we are lunatics, like North Korea.

I don't even know what to say anymore. Read the transcript and if any part of you is not deeply alarmed by it, go to hell. This is like the Battlefield: Earth of presidential candidates – if you don't understand immediately and on a fundamental level why it's terrible, I'm not going to be able to explain it to you. Just go away to one of the places in this country set aside for garbage human beings. Try Mississippi.

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47 Responses to “WORD CANNON”

  1. Well....mostly Says:

    I tried. Really tried to get through it. It's not in my nature to keep paying attention to something/someone who makes no sense and can't stay on topic over seven seconds. Repeating the word tremendous doesn't make anything tremendous. Had to stop out of consideration for my remaining brain cells.
    Do we know, did anyone present for the interview quit journalism for good or give it up and jump out a window? Those would be rational responses, if sad.
    Is there anything sadder than a con man out of his element? No marks around? Tremendously sad: just tremendous.

  2. J. Dryden Says:

    Obviously, Trump's failure to give clear or fact-based answers is a result of his monumental ignorance of (and uninterest in) the basic requirements of knowledge that the job demands. That is, he's giving terrible answers because he is incapable of giving good ones.

    But at the same time, he has no incentive to give good answers, even if he could.

    Because I suspect that such vagueness is part of Trump's appeal:

    A. By providing a blank slate, his nebulousness allows voters to project their own meaning/desires onto his answers. He become "my" candidate if I can hear my own answers within his non-answers.

    B. His obvious ignorance, combined with his ostentatious material success, conveys a sense that you don't have to know stuff to be important and, not knowing stuff themselves, they're able to feel better about their ignorance and more hopeful about their own prospects.

    C. By not really answering, Trump avoids the polished lies they're clearly so disgusted with in the most 'establishment' candidates. Trump's hand-waving dismissal of details appears preferable to the specific but clearly insincere untruths told by folks like Rubio and Bush.

    Trump is the candidate of those who want the world that has failed them so thoroughly to burn to the ground–who see the system as corrupt past the point of recovery–so the more he demonstrates that he has no intention of engaging with the responsibilities of the job (that is, the more he demonstrates that he has no intention of DOING the job as everyone else before him has), the more appealing he becomes.

    Vote for Bernie until you can't vote for Bernie anymore. Then vote for Hillary. Failing that, nuke the site from orbit. (It's the only way to be sure.)

  3. Rob Says:

    Well, I tried to read it, I really did. A sad load of gibberish from a fat blowhard. I don't want to move to Mississippi one bit, but I suppose I'll have to consider it if the only alternative is to finish reading the interview.

  4. Noskilz Says:

    Bizarre. It makes me think of an old Jerry Van Amerongen "The Neighborhood" comic featuring the caption "New ideas rush into Allen's mind pell-mell, crowding out old ones before they can take form or shape."

  5. tkno77 Says:

    I just wanted to point out that saying 'The Washington Post, they don"t write good' is pretty ironic.

  6. Heywood J. Says:

    Drumpf is an even bigger failure as a thinker than he is an entremanure. It reads like he has some sort of weird bet with Sarah Palin and Kanye West to see who can come off as the most preening, obnoxious dipshit. Since the Palin-West ticket won't be until 2020, for now Drumpf takes the turd cake.

    So Ed, how certain are you still that Drumpf has no chance, like zero? Because I recall how we all laughed and laughed back in 1999 at what a fucking bozo Fredo Arbusto was. Inarticulate! Sad! Shoulda been a slam-dunk, didn't work out so well.

    It turns out being a certifiable idiot is not a disqualifier, when an unfortunate proportion of the electorate are jabbering, feces-slinging baboons. In the south, "Ooh-ooh aah-aah!" is an actual slogan, with the right chimpy inflection.

    Even if HRC squeaks this one out, these goobers seem like bad losers. It is going to get a lot uglier, regardless of who takes the mantle of Imperial Custodian this year.

  7. wetcasements Says:

    And Ted Cruz would do even more damage to America than Trump.

  8. Jude Says:

    As someone who grew up in Mississippi but had the good fortune to escape, I agree with the last paragraph.

    However, everyone who moves in should also be required to pay for the escape of another adult (and all of his or her dependents) who are currently trapped there but who want desperately to get away.

  9. Katydid Says:

    JDryden: " B. His obvious ignorance, combined with his ostentatious material success, conveys a sense that you don't have to know stuff to be important and, not knowing stuff themselves, they're able to feel better about their ignorance and more hopeful about their own prospects."

    The rightwing noise machine has very carefully brainwashed its watching demographic to believe knowing stuff is simply not important, not cool. Education? For losers! (Or, as the kids write these days, "loosers", cuz ya know, spelling is for loosers, namsayin'?). Why, they have dozens of anecdotes to whip about about how 20-year-old high-school dropouts in Wasilla, Alaska, have their own homes and are beeylyunaires and PERFECTLY HAPPY, so why bother learning stuff?

  10. Dave Dell Says:

    Trump says to all the power brokers who were willing to take his money but not give him a seat at the table, to all of the G&T readers, the Charles Pierce followers, the DKos ruminators… "look upon my works ye mighty and despair".

    Nah, he doesn't say that or even think in terms of the context of the entire poem but it feels that way to me.

    The most worrisome part to me is who's his advisors, who's his VP, who's his chief of staff, who's his National Security advisor, who's his cabinet choices, who's on his list for judicial nominees?

    Not that I think he's going to win the general election. He's such a loose cannon that I think it's possible that if nominated he might not run. It's all so interesting I've doubled my daily dose of antacids.

  11. SiubhanDuinne Says:

    Dave Dell: "He's such a loose cannon that I think it's possible that if nominated he might not run."

    Over the last week or so, I'm becoming more and more convinced that he will find some reason to withdraw from the race shortly before the convention. I have no clue what that rationalisation will look like — I can easily imagine him throwing a tantrum and dropping out because someone, anyone (the RNC, the NYTimes, someone on Twitter) was "mean" to him and "said very bad things" about him and treated him "unfairly." Despite the fact that he doesn't look healthy, I can't imagine that he would use a health excuse, only because he's incapable of admitting to a flaw; but he might concoct some story that he was dropping out because of "security concerns" à la Chicago. Anyhow, I think at some level which he is unwilling to confront and examine, he knows he's WAY out of his league and just needs a plausible-sounding reason.

    I really think he's gone by summer.

  12. Talisker Says:

    Trump reminds me of some of the more bizarre Roman emperors, such as Caligula, Commodus, or even Elagabalus (reigned 218-222 AD, obscure but possibly the most bat-shit crazy of them all). The empire was so corrupt that administrative ability wasn't a necessary qualification for the job.

    Trump has grievously offended everyone who isn't an ignorant straight white male, but he has two things going for him. The first is anti-establishment rage. The second is Hillary Clinton, who is the quintessential establishment candidate, a less than inspiring campaigner, and battered by twenty-five years of the right-wing hate machine.

    It's probably not enough to put Trump over the top. Maybe not even close. But I wouldn't bet my life on it.

  13. Hazy Davy Says:

    He spends more time illustrating the insecurity about his hands than he does answering the question, above.

  14. doug Says:

    Trump is horrible. Any candidate with an inkling of a possibility of winning is horrible. Get over expecting good government. Will not happen in your lifetime. To expect otherwise is an exercise in futility.

    Try to find peace somewhere…it will not be in politics…

  15. Talisker Says:

    @doug: There are different degrees of horrible. Someone compared Clinton to pizza from Pizza Hut, and Trump to anthrax. Both are bad and unhealthy things to eat. But if they are your only two choices for dinner, one is objectively much worse than the other.

  16. HoosierPoli Says:

    He makes Sarah Palin sound like Clarence Darrow.

  17. SiubhanDuinne Says:

    @Talisker: "Elagabalus (reigned 218-222 AD, obscure but possibly the most bat-shit crazy of them all)."

    Heh. The Modern Major-General knew who he was:

    "I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus,
    In conics I can floor peculiarities parabolous."

  18. Ten Bears Says:

    "…don't write good." Spoken like your average "American".

    If it weren't so damned serious, I'd really be enjoying this.

    Mississippi isn't an option. I need another shower.

  19. H.M.S. Blankenship Says:

    From the comments at the link:

    "It's a transcript, not a recording, they can type it up to sound like
    whatever they want…"

  20. Steven Frisch Says:

    What amazes me is the seeming impenetrability of Trumps support with voters when exposed to a transcript like the one linked above. It is as though the nation is hell bent on suicide at the polls in November, with either a complete blow out at the polls by the Democrats (which would be preferable but could merely perpetuate the obstructionist decade) or a Trump victory and the first truly 'nationalist' and authoritarian President.

    I can't imagine being a part of a nation led by Trump (although I said that before about Reagan). To me the question is 'how do I resist' should the worst come to pass, not should I resist. What is our responsibility as citizens to resist authoritarian leadership and what moral choices do we face?

    We could be in for one of the most disruptive decades in American political history since the Civil War.

  21. Robert Says:

    Elagabal is my favorite Silver Age Emperor. He reigned from ages fourteen to eighteen, and might as well have been the Maltese Falcon for all the actual governing he did. According to most accounts, he had a marvelous time right up until the Praetorians turned on him.

    Drumpf is starting to sound like a character Mencken would have invented, then rejected as too extreme even for his splenetic imagination.

  22. Drew J Says:

    It's interesting that you reference the Joker, because Drumpf actually reminds me of Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight, when he acts like the most spoiled drunk trust fund idiot possible, so that no one will believe he could actually be Batman. Except Drumpf isn't putting on a Spoiled Rich Incompetent, he is a Spoiled Rich Incompetent.

  23. Safety Man! Says:

    Absolutely serious here, I remember Battlefield: Earth (book) had terrible cardboard stereotype characters, but I don't remember it being bad enough to make me move to Mississippi?

  24. Skipper Says:

    Where did we think this was all headed? We've been subjected to right-wing babble for so long now — and it's not only been tolerated, but glorified. Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Back, and the ultimate — Fox News. This is what many Americans have come to expect.

    Back in 2011, Rolling Stone did a great analysis of Fox News. They went through an entire day's broadcasts. What they found was that the day had five distinct talking points. These were repeated endlessly in every show, although wrapped in different wrappings of bullshit and babble.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/distort-attack-repeat-20110524?

    This is what Trump's followers respond to — picking the gems of talking points out of the pile of poo that comes out of his mouth.

    The fact is that most Americans can't follow a logical argument for any length of time. After a few seconds, their eyes glaze over and their attention wanders. They need a pencil and paper to deal with more than two variables. This is why it was so easy to portray Al Gore as "boring." So you have to yank them back from time to time with a talking point that gets their attention. Then, they remember the talking point and not all the other stuff you said. If you hit enough talking points that they resonate with, they call you a brilliant speaker.

    Having said that, an important thing here is that you're reading an exact transcript of spoken English. I like to say that spoken English and written English are two different languages — related, but different.

    As part of my effort to earn some money, I have a job "editing" transcripts of recorded interviews with leaders in the tech industry. I put "editing" in quotes because I say it's more like translating. Anyone is good for a few minutes, but after that, their speech becomes a lot like what you see with Trump's. And these are the leaders of the industry. Once they wander off the marketing department's talking points, their speech is rife with disjointed phrases, half sentences, nested sentence fragments, interrupting themselves, whatever, My job is to try to put it together in readable form without changing what they say. Some are better speakers than others. Sometimes, I cry.

    When you listen to someone, your ear and brain do a pretty good job of doing all that editing/translating/filtering — unless the person is really bad. Seeing it written word for word, however, makes many of them look like they're babbling.

    Has anyone ever watched a whole Trump speech? I have. I think he's a real danger and will be able to do irreparable harm, but I can see where his followers at least (not rational people) can get excited about what he says. That's the real danger.

  25. cekman Says:

    This thread sent me in search of a fey little ditty in defense of Heliogalabus written years ago by an artist named Momus – only to find that Momus himself uploaded a new version to YouTube last week, featuring the face of you-know-who.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTHUVhHnwaQ

    Similarly, R. Crumb pegged Trump, even longer ago, as Trimalchio:
    http://fatpollyscomix.tumblr.com/post/137692625277/robert-crumb-takes-on-donald-trump-in-hup-3-from

    Not sure I'm convinced by the comparisons, though – Trump hasn't got the imagination of either.

  26. cekman Says:

    That Crumb scan was missing one of the better pages, but it can be found here:
    https://scans-daily.dreamwidth.org/6029257.html

  27. Leading Edge Boomer Says:

    The Mayo Clinic quotes the symptoms for Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association.
    http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20025568

  28. c u n d gulag Says:

    Maybe, Dumb-'n-Old Chump, the reason the WaPo "don't write good" about you, is that they quote you, and you don't talk good!

    He's appealing to the GOP base's basest instincts.

    The racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, and religious intolerance the party has been nurturing and growing since the mid-60's, and the CRA and VRA were passed and became law.

    Trump's the GOP Id gone wild.
    And Teddy Cruz-ader isn't any better – he's basically Trump with a Messianic complex.

  29. Buffalo Rude Says:

    @J. Dryden: "By providing a blank slate, his nebulousness allows voters to project their own meaning/desires onto his answers. He become "my" candidate if I can hear my own answers within his non-answers.”

    Basically, the “Twilight” book series running for President, no?

  30. Major Kong Says:

    When I left Mississippi I stopped at the state line and burned rubber across it.

  31. Southern Beale Says:

    "What would you do?"

    "Something."

    "What's something?"

    "I don't know, I'll have to ask someone else."

    ——————-

    I agree completely but I must point out that this isn't radically different from Bernie Sanders promising universal healthcare, Wall Street reform, free college tuition, reversing Citizens United, etc. and when someone asks HOW he'll do it, his answer is "Revolution!"

  32. Tim H. Says:

    SB, no, it won't be free, we'll all pay into it, like car insurance. And some of my tax dollars will make some poor fuckers life better, and I won't mind, because who wants to be King Turd of Shit mountain anyway?

  33. Mo Says:

    Palin fans will gobble it up.

    Brains that only register words they like: "Argle bargle blibbity blab … bzzt! crack… TREMENDOUS! *******!!!! … bzzt … pop … ssssssss … Huh? Wha? …. zzzzzzz…"

  34. Southern Beale Says:

    Tim H.

    That doesn't answer the question: HOW WILL YOU DO THIS. In today's reality. In a Congress controlled by Republicans, in a country where Congressional districts are gerrymandered. HOW will you do this?

    "Revolution" doesn't seem to quite cover that.

  35. mothra Says:

    Southern Beale:
    Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are not exactly alike. True, Bernie's promises might be pie-in-the-sky, but they are vastly different from Trump's promises. Also might add that Trump's promises actually COULD be possible with a Congress controlled by Republicans. Also, campaigners routinely promise on the stump things that they can never deliver–or never think of delivering (see, e.g. Barack Obama–or even now Hillary). They do this to get people excited about voting for them–people want to vote FOR something. Most voters understand this, but like to get behind a candidate who finally speaks to them. Hillary's message of "no, we can't" ain't exactly inspiring.

  36. BluntObject Says:

    Tim H. Says:
    March 23rd, 2016 at 2:52 pm
    SB, no, it won't be free, we'll all pay into it, like car insurance. And some of my tax dollars will make some poor fuckers life better, and I won't mind, because who wants to be King Turd of Shit mountain anyway?

    ^ This ^

  37. Paul Says:

    http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2016/03/meditations-on-reading-the-transcript-of-donald-john-trumps-meeting-with-the-washington-post

    Short and hilarious. You should read it.

  38. Tim H. Says:

    SB, it won't be a Republican congress forever, liberal/progressive politicians are going to look better as the economy continues to decline. Also, Republicans used to be fairly liberal and might become so again.

  39. Skepticalist Says:

    It's very much like a sitcom where the children are depicted as smarter than the unlucky adults that have thrown in the towel.

  40. Heisenberg Says:

    SB: Naysayers like you said the same thing about health care reform in 2009. Yet somehow Democratic leadership got it done. How about we actually try doing big things, instead of letting GOP obstructionism convince us it can't be done? (That is what they want, after all.)

  41. Johnnie Says:

    SB's apathy toward forward progress says it all-"Thanks Obama!"

  42. HoosierPoli Says:

    "That doesn't answer the question: HOW WILL YOU DO THIS. In today's reality. In a Congress controlled by Republicans, in a country where Congressional districts are gerrymandered. HOW will you do this?"

    "How will you get this past Congress" is different than "This is impossible within the thermodynamic limits of the universe".

  43. Coffeeman Says:

    It is better to be silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

  44. ConcernedCitizen Says:

    A candidate being vague in his policy prescriptions during a campaign? Blow me down…

  45. drouse Says:

    Trump is the perfect example of what Frankfurt meant in his essay "On Bullshit". A bullshitter and one that is obviously out of his depth. When questioned, he uses words like octopus ink. If that doesn't deter the questioner he tries to escape. Failing that he attacks on a personal level. The fact that a good percentage of his supporters realize this and still support him is disturbing.

    Clerk: So what do you do?

    Mel Brooks: I'm a standup philosopher.

    Clerk: Oh. you're a bullshitter.

  46. Donald Shimoda Says:

    As a west coast guy, living in Mississippi is out of the question. I lived in Georgia for 3 years and that was not pleasant. I also spent 2 years in West Africa and as strange as that was it is preferable to living in the U.S south. As much as I would prefer FDR to return and be President again, I will vote for Hillary. Anything else (GOP) in unthinkable.

  47. democommie Says:

    Since Ms. Beale allows my foulkeyboarding self to pollute her blog (full discclosure, Ionly EVER unload on complete assholes) I know her well enough to know that she's not a naysayer or any brand of conservative–although she is a conservationist.

    Bernis is unelectable. That's the only thing that really matters. Hilary may be a lot of things but "unelectable" is no longer one of them,, thanks in large part to the GOPricks.