The Absurdity of Describing Donald Trump as a ‘Great Communicator’
Donald Trump is not a great communicator. Great communicators like to communicate. The White House has conducted so few press conferences in recent months that taxpayers could appropriately demand a cut in Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ paycheck. When she does come to the podium, her average gift to the press corps is less than twenty minutes.
When the president himself answers the few questions he accepts during state events, his vernacular of childish, superlative vocabulary betrays his crippling, omnipresent fear of personal inadequacy. All the world leaders he meets with are “incredible” or “great friends,” people he “knows so well,” and, in the case of Kim Jong Un, even a “lover.” Of course, all these terms contrast conspicuously with the President’s impulsive, unilateral, and unpopular foreign policies, while his unprecedented dealmaking, “easily-winnable” trade wars, and ability to keep us exhausted from all his winning have not quite lived up to the hype of his Dunning-Kruger confidence.
Domestically, Trump largely eschews press conferences, instead preferring impromptu ramblings to press gaggles before prescheduled events. His rare televised interviews typically follow a week of exceptionally terrible press regarding his various administrative scandals and deeds of personal misconduct, and he uses them to either lie about the relevant controversies, or say something new so preposterous that he successfully changes the subject for a few days away from the various infamies he’s sick of hearing about during his infantile executive hours in front of the television.
While being questioned, he rambles meanderingly around disjointed ideas, and sometimes even stumbles into unintentional self-incrimination, like when he admitted to Lester Holt that he fired James Comey for not giving up on the FBI’s investigation into Russian collusion, effectively offering a public confession to obstruction of justice. Even when he snags a soft Fox News interview, he spills out word vomit so disjointed and mentally nonlinear that it’s borderline impossible for editors to transcribe onto paper for their readers to try to interpret.
We cannot forget the president’s political rallies, their rhetorical content remaining far from noteworthy in presidential context. Actually talented presidential communicators have historically used such events to inspire civic unity and patriotic effort, or outline ambitious policy ideas, whereas Trump lists his weekly grievances and complains how mean everyone is to him. He smiles as his supporters carry out chants of “lock them up” when he tries out new insult nicknames for his political opponents, and he thanks them for their reflexive personal loyalty. The fomented sense of cultural paranoia and social persecution his egotistical political career contributes to and depends on reflects more his electoral coalition’s ceiling rather than its floor, and his whiny rallies are failing to attract the suburban, female voters that polls suggest he is losing. The president’s mean-spirited, politics-by-circus schtick of Napoleonic narcissism is aesthetically undemocratic and meritocratically unAmerican, and it’s important to remember that his technicality victory via the Electoral College means he failed to convince a majority of American voters that he should be President.
Then comes Twitter, the medium of communication for which Trump receives most unwarranted acclamation. Tweeting conveniences him with a character limit, and allows him to communicate to the American people from a safe place where no one can personally react or follow up on the delusional things he publishes. The president neglects to proofread these great communications so they are typically filled with poor spelling, irregular grammar, novel quotation punctuation, inexplicable capitalization, actual fake news retweets, logical paradoxes in attempts at legal self-defense, and a lot of whiny little bitching. He repeats the same tired, factually incorrect tropes, like all-caps “NO COLLUSION,” “18-Angry Democrats,” and “Failing New York Times,” while lobbing petty insults at award-winning actresses, sports players, and anyone else who fails to contribute to the little dictator veneration he showers on himself. All will be preserved forever on the Internet’s least challenging, least reflective medium as a disgrace to his office and our country.
Screwing up every medium in which he conveys messages to the country, his only communicative success is in dividing the country for the political gain that comes with taking advantage of his supporters’ gullibility for demagogic shamelessness. Maybe he can incite them toward greater political violence than his words are already credited with provoking in various right-wing extremist groups, but should we congratulate his communication skills for such intrinsically negative attention and consequences? Maybe, instead of a great communicator, he’s really a big doofus whose depraved, unquenchable thirst for gauche vengeance has made him the perfect poster boy for an electorally declining political movement absorbed in an insular zeitgeist of xenophobia and ends-justify-the-means political villainy.
Dash MacIntyre is the Editor-in-Chief of The Halfway Post.