Sunday, December 06, 2015

Donald Trump's 95,000 Words

A team of reporters, historians, and political scientists examined transcriptions of every speech, interview, Twitter blast, and press conference that Donald Trump gave last week -- including his Friday night appearance in Raleigh -- and point out the demagoguery a-borning in the Republican presidential primary race.
The most striking hallmark was Mr. Trump’s constant repetition of divisive phrases, harsh words and violent imagery that American presidents rarely use, based on a quantitative comparison of his remarks and the news conferences of recent presidents, Democratic and Republican. He has a particular habit of saying “you” and “we” as he inveighs against a dangerous “them” or unnamed other — usually outsiders like illegal immigrants (“they’re pouring in”), Syrian migrants (“young, strong men”) and Mexicans, but also leaders of both political parties.
Trump indulges in name-calling and insults in place of policy positions and reasoned arguments:
Mr. Trump tends to attack a person rather than an idea or a situation, like calling political opponents “stupid” (at least 30 times), “horrible” (14 times), “weak” (13 times) and other names, and criticizing foreign leaders, journalists and so-called anchor babies. He bragged on Thursday about psyching out Jeb Bush by repeatedly calling him “low-energy,” but he spends far less time contrasting Mr. Bush’s policies with his own proposals, which are scant....
“His entire campaign is run like a demagogue’s — his language of division, his cult of personality, his manner of categorizing and maligning people with a broad brush,” said Jennifer Mercieca, an expert in American political discourse at Texas A&M University. “If you’re an illegal immigrant, you’re a loser. If you’re captured in war, like John McCain, you’re a loser. If you have a disability, you’re a loser. It’s rhetoric like Wallace’s — it’s not a kind or generous rhetoric.” ...
A significant difference between Mr. Trump and 20th-century American demagogues is that many of them, especially McCarthy and Wallace, were charmless public speakers. Mr. Trump, by contrast, is an energetic and charismatic speaker who can be entertaining and ingratiating with his audiences. There is a looseness to his language that sounds almost like water-cooler talk or neighborly banter, regardless of what it is about.
And then there's also the proof that he's willing to use his big, angry crowds as an army of strong-arm bullies. About a Black Lives Matter protestor beaten at a rally, Trump said, “Maybe he should have been roughed up.”

That is not only demagoguery. It's dangerous demagoguery.

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