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Donald J. Trump (donkeyHotey/cc)

Donald J. Trump (donkeyHotey/cc)

The Pejorative and the Trump

It seems like an endless four years.

Christopher Brauchli

All of us can remember the days of our youth when we would seek out words and expressions to express annoyance at those who had given offense. In many cases the parties needing remonstrance were siblings, and in some cases, one or both parents by whom we had been admonished or otherwise dealt with in a manner that we, as the child in the event, felt needed to be harshly addressed.

Although each person’s recollection of childhood will bring to mind different words used to address an offending party, in a more innocent time we were forced to use words that in most cases were words that by today’s standard would not be considered adequate to express outrage. It was before the time when the asterisk had ascended to the role of censor.

(The ascendancy of the asterisk is attributable to today’s common usage of words that when reported in reputable publications in days gone by could not appear without the asterisk serving as a buffer between the word and the reader’s sense of propriety.)

In this writer’s experience as a child, when really exasperated with a parent and wanting to let the parent know of the displeasure the offending parent had evoked, the most effective response that could be mustered was to let the parent know that he or she was a “skunk.” Such remonstration would on occasion prompt the appearance of a soap filled washcloth with which to cleanse the speaker’s mouth, but by today’s standards that particular word is not an example of how to meaningfully address an offending parent. For that, the small child has now been provided a tutor.

The tutor is someone who in calendar years has long since left the small child realm, but in mental development has never progressed beyond at most the 7-year level. The tutor is, of course, none other than the trump.

The trump’s use of the pejorative will someday be recorded as an example of the most interesting thing he accomplished while living in the White House-the degradation of the English language. Examples, of course, abound, and the small child will, as he or she develops his or her reading skill, learn to decide which words best describe an offending parent. Some helpful examples may be what the trump said about Kamala Harris following her selection by Joe Biden as his running mate.

Within a few hours after being named, the trump described her as “the meanest,” and “extraordinarily nasty” person without, however, offering evidence of how she had earned that status. In that same initial assessment of her personality he said she was “angry,” and in a fund-raising e mail called her “the meanest senator.” He also said that during the debates in the primary season she was “nastier than Pocahontas” to vice president Biden. For the child looking for something to say about an annoying parent, deciding to hurl that particular insult at a parent could be a good learning experiment because the child will have to study a bit of history to learn why Pocahontas was considered nasty.

Of course Senator Harris is simply one in what is an endless stream of name calling by the trump. That is because there are hundreds of people the trump dislikes, many of whom he liked for a brief period but, suffering from an attention deficit disorder, soon tired of. John Bolton is a good example.

In 2018 the trump made John Bolton his National Security Adviser. In a rally in Knoxville, TN, following Bolton’s appointment, the trump pointed him out to the crowd identifying him as “the great John Bolton.” He went on in his praise saying: “They think he’s so nasty and so tough that I have to hold him back, OK?” Less than 2 years later the trump fired him. He called Mr. Bolton “wacko” “incompetent” and a “boring fool who only wanted to go to war.” In a tweet he said, among other things: “What a dope.”

Other examples of trump invective abound. Jeb Bush was “Low Energy.” A child might find that effective when addressing a parent who outside the home has an important job. A few of the adjectives used to describe Hillary Clinton might also be useful when addressing an offending mother. Trump called her, among hundreds of other things, “crazy”, “Crooked” “Lying” “Heartless” and “skank” although the meaning of the last is unclear so the young should probably avoid it or do research before employing it. Other names he has used include weirdo, goofy, crazy, etc.

Not all of these pejoratives will fit into a small child’s mind who is seeking retribution for a perceived parental offense, but it will help the child understand the nature of the effective retort.  Having the trump model in mind, the creative young child will, after reading this, get the idea and will certainly be able to conjure up more words to use to deal with specific situations.

For the trump’s tutelage in the world of insults, small children can be grateful. For the rest of us, such instruction does nothing to compensate for the trump’s daily presence in our lives for what now seems like an endless four years.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Christopher Brauchli

Christopher Brauchli

Christopher Brauchli is a Common Dreams columnist and lawyer known nationally for his work. He is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Colorado School of Law where he served on the Board of Editors of the Rocky Mountain Law Review. For political commentary see his web page at

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