Friday, August 04, 2017

Truculent Trump

      I recently perused A Book About Words, published in England in 1865. The curious latter-day Calvinistic thesis of the book is that words, reflecting the evil proclivities of human nature, tend to become negative and consequently “degenerate.” It occurred to me that at least one fairly common word, trump, may be undergoing an accelerated degeneration because of the the controversial career of Donald J. Trump, the truculent, dysfunctional 45th president of the United States.  
        The noun trump has as one of its meanings, according to the Third Edition of the International Merriam-Webster Dictionary (1968), “a dependable and exemplary person.” “He’s a trump,” are words of praise. But that sounds like the antithesis of what Donald J. Trump has unfortunately proved to be. It is trump as a verb that seems more appropriate for our president. Trump. As a transitive verb, to trump means to get the better of, or to override, as a trump card can in cards. To trump also means, more specifically, to get the better of someone, which might be described as Donald Trump’s modus operandi.
        Trump tried to get the better of the reading public by claiming to be
the co-author of The Art of the Deal (1987). Trump’s putative “co-author” Tony Schwartz claimed—and he was backed up by the publisher—that Trump had nothing to do with the writing of The Art of Deal. Trump continues to claim he did. Since lying is an integral part of “the art of the deal,” Trump naturally would lie about his part in the writing of the best selling book. One does not have to have a Ph.D. in psychology to see that the Donald is as incapable of writing a book as he is of thinking straight. If “the Donald” exemplifies anything, it is mindlessness. Trump acquired that nickname earlier in his loopy career. The word donald is not listed in Merriam-Webster, so I’m not sure why the nickname “the Donald” has stuck, though it might in part be because of Trump’s resemblance to Donald Duck, particularly in that cartoon character’s temper tantrums.

"Who sez I colluded with the Russkies?"