President Trump may or may not have done good things in his first 100 days in office. But have no doubt, he has affected the language of politics, uprooted the tried-and-true meanings of the past for a new more ambiguous, fluid and hazier speech.
These words and phrases are the language of the day:
Takeaways: These are the facts which you try and sort out from the presidential utterances. Takeaways mostly are the nuggets, the nub, the likely policy in the mattress of words. Takeaways are nearly as good as facts, but not quite as tricky. Takeaways don’t have to be facts, they can be hints, even insults or praise, which indicate which way the presidential wind is blowing; whether it is a zephyr or a gale, a wind of change or just hot air.
Double down: This is when President Trump or his staff cling to a position for a while. For example, the president has doubled down on his demand for wall along the southern border. He has not wavered in his desire to see masonry separating us from Mexico, from the bad hombres there who have never heard of airplanes, boats or Canada. A fence won’t do; nor will an electronic barrier. It has to be a wall, like Hadrian’s Wall, separating England from Scotland, or the Great Wall of China or the Berlin Wall. History loves walls. History doesn’t do fences.
Walk back: Walking back statements, positions, accusations and policies is a kind of wiggle room on steroids. If it stirs up a storm, walk it back. If the historical facts you’ve quoted are pure nonsense, walk them back. If your international agenda has changed, walk back the old one.
Take the strange matter of Chinese currency manipulation. Candidate Trump was going to straighten out that one. But when he needed the Chinese to pressure North Korea, he walked back the issue of currency manipulation. He also did a few backward steps on Chinese incursion into the South China Sea.
Historians might note that in relation to China, President Trump has traded away a lot for little or nothing. The Chinese aren’t going to topple the dictatorship of Kim Jong-un in North Korea, or even cut off a lot of their trade with him. “Smart cookies” are in Beijing, too.
Fake news: This is the new aspirin of politics. Take two and recant in the morning. Fake news is, by presidential dictate, anything you don’t like on the news; or the entire purveyor of the news, like CNN or The New York Times. Fake has not yet lost its old meaning: It means made up, false, fictitious.
In the Land of Trump, there are no facts, except those on which he has doubled down, and which might be walked back at some time in the future.
Enemies of the people: That means journalists. All of them, if they don’t work for Fox News ― and a few of those are suspect.
Now the president, the negotiator-in-chief, the man who can look across the table at an adversary and get the wretch to sign and concede, is taking on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Trump may not have negotiated the Russians into submission or the Chinese into compliance, but no matter. When at first you don’t succeed, go for the big one. Double down.
Maybe Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will walk through the Valley of Failed negotiations and succeed. But no matter. It’s a no-brainer. You can walk that one back, littering the way with accusations of intransigence and ill will. One doesn’t have to walk back failure in the Middle East. That one walks itself.
Author’s note: I’ll walk back all my negative comments as needed or, perchance, double down on them. They are, of course, fake and have been penned by a certifiable enemy of the people.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this column misspelled the name of Jared Kushner.