Monthly Archives: May 2018

Street-fight Rhetoric

Michael Gerson of the Washington Post Writers Group recently wrote a lettered op-ed entitled “Nation’s dignity suffers through street-fight rhetoric.” He notes current White House rhetoric compared to former Presidents.

Gerson reminds us of President Kennedy’s inaugural address of which John Steinbeck said: “Syntax, my lad. It has been restored to the highest place in the republic.” In this literate piece he laments the precipitous decline of language usage of late.

It is doubtful that our current President has ever read the word ‘syntax,’ since his appetite for reading is apparently quite limited. He has probably heard the word though and suspects that he ought to oppose it in a tweet. After all, having a room-tax at a hotel is bad enough for a city to impose. The idea of an extra charge above the fee being paid for an escort service is unreasonable. Who needs a syntax?

Gerson appropriately bemoans the kind of language used by a comedienne at the latest White House  Correspondents Association dinner. The paragraph that follows this criticism describes Trump’s eighty-minute rant in Michigan “that mixed narcissism, nativism, ignorance, mendacity and malice.” What Gerson does not do is to link the raw language of the stand-up comic as a quid pro quo of the vituperative vocalizations that spew from Trump.

Probably the best response to Michelle Wolf’s remarks was the wag who tweeted that those who objected should just relax and recognize ‘locker room talk’ that seemed  ‘OK’ when The Donald chuckled about crotch grabbing

Still though a ‘syntax’ sounds like an attempt to put another surcharge on the high rollers, doesn’t it?

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