Trump’s Particular Style of Bullshitting

Over on Twitter, CNN journalist Daniel Dale highlights Donald Trump’s “speaking mistake”…

Donald Trump has a particular style of bullshitting. He will assert something, and then qualify it with a “maybe” or a “probably.” Politicians the world over will obfuscate and mislead, but the way Trump does it is particularly noticeable. Its almost like he is a child, play-acting at being a politician.

Each of these qualifications — the “maybes” and the “probablies” — has a profound grammatical effect on the sentence. They render the assertion he has just made meaningless. But in the flow of a speech, the audience (and annoyingly, the journalists) don’t always pick up on the trick.

I’ve come to realise that this is the President’s way of trying to give himself plausible deniability for each lie. Those equivocations are Donald Trump’s ‘tell,’ the vocal quirk that betrays the fact that he’s just making shit up as he goes along. Every now and then I bookmark examples.

He has been doing this before he was even elected:

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said Tuesday that President Barack Obama was “the worst president, maybe in the history of our country” after Obama called Trump “unfit to serve” and “woefully unprepared to do this job” earlier in the day.

And he was at it on inauguration day:

“This started out tonight being a small little concert, and then we had the idea maybe we’ll do it in front of the Lincoln Memorial. I don’t know if it’s ever been done before,” Trump said. “But if it has, very seldom…”

A report from the Washington Post, August 2017:

President Trump on Aug. 1 said his administration and small-business owners are “unleashing a new era of American prosperity perhaps like we’ve never seen before.”

“President Obama, I think, probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn’t. I don’t know. That’s what I was told.

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