In the days when George W Bush was president, Republicans were embarrassed by his poor use of language. The president often spoke as though English was a foreign language. Critics used to say that President Bush could hardly connect sentences. We all know, however, that he went to the best schools that money and family connections could buy. Yet, he uttered each sentence with great confidence as we watched it take off, a word-balloon floating into thin air refusing to be part of a coherent paragraph.
Republicans who used to cringe when George W Bush used his version of English are now nostalgic for him; they yearn for rekindling his legacy and question why every candidate has only a Reagan moment. Republicans don’t know that there is already is a Bush moment and Trump is it.
When George W was president Republicans whispered that Jeb would have been the more articulate Bush; that was then, before Trump’s low-energy language deflated Jeb.
George W Bush excelled in bombastic declarations, Mission Accomplished, donning military uniform, standing on the deck of a battleship, outdoing reality TV. In the background was the disaster of Iraq that we already knew quite well even when the media was kept away from the weeping coffins returning home.
What we didn’t know was that President Bush would provide a legacy for Donald Trump. The reason that we didn’t know of the legacy was because we got President Obama who could wax poetry, who wrote evocative books and had rhetorical skills that Harvard and all the best Law Schools in America would be proud of. The president who actually captured the beauty and sound of the English language was denounced by Trump as a foreigner.
Republicans could laugh with Trump the Birther for a long time until he declared himself one of them. Now they are no longer laughing with him. He has become their nightmare on the road to the presidency. Trump speaks the kind of English that President Bush has created, one that follows no rules and defies conventions, “I attack them tougher.”
Clearly Trump does have rhetorical skills that surpass George W Bush, but that is the power of legacies. Trump’s language has roots in Fascist traditions in its appeal to raw nativist emotions for people who feel aggrieved. In Fascist rhetoric the absence of logic, facts, or grammatical rules are replaced with blame, scapegoating, lies and defiance of rules. This, however, is the danger, first you laugh with Trump because he is after your enemy, only to realize that in Fascism, everyone can become the victim. As Trump reminds them, “if you threaten I’ll hit harder.”
Until last week Trump was successful beyond President Bush whom he had attacked without admitting how grateful he should have to been to the bombastic president for the legacy that he had inherited. Trump ignored an important lesson, that not knowing foreign policy was for Bush a horrific fault. Relying on his vice president a presumptive foreign policy expert was a tragic mistake. A president, as Bush has demonstrated, must know better than just rely on “experts.” So the Republicans, belatedly are terrified of Trump who is handing out nuclear candy to all and sundry, bans Muslims, expels immigrants and sends women to prison. And Trump insists in his version of English “I am unbelievably treated badly by the press” and at the same time, “I have fun with life.”
Republicans now recall with tear of gratitude President Bush’s mangling the English language when he said he could speak Mexican and uttered a few sentences in Spanish; but he did not say he would build a wall. President Bush did go to a mosque after 9.11, and unlike Trump he didn’t have to say, “its unfair that I get attacked on my hair,” or, “I can be so presidential if I want to be.” Bush did say ominously, “he started it,” about Saddam Hussein, and now Trump uses this playground rule as domestic and foreign policy.
The presidential primaries in 2016 are not just about the economy; they are also about language without rules in which whatever is said can be denied.
In fairness to gender inclusion the Republicans can point out that Sarah Palin is another inheritor/producer of meaninglessness language in an amplified volume. But between us women you should know, Sarah, that hatred is the bridge to nowhere even in Alaska.