Politicians typically strive to project a stable political persona free of self-contradictions and inconsistencies. President Trump, on the other hand, is the master of self-contradictions and inconsistencies. But underlying this apparently incoherent political self is a different type of coherence—one that maintains an egotistical self-image rather than stable political positions. Trump’s political fickleness took center stage […]
Post-truth was Oxford Dictionaries’ 2016 word of the year, but the word became even more relevant in 2017 as Americans suffered through the first year of a presidency frighteningly indifferent, if not openly hostile, to facts. When it comes to exaggerations, half-truths, and outright fabrications, the Trump presidency is without precedent.
Although many hoped Trump’s use of social media to wage ad hominem attacks would cease once he took office, now even former Republican supporters, like Senator Bob Corker, conclude that Trump has “proven himself unable to rise to the occasion.” Instead of the presidency changing the man, the man has changed the presidency.
In an exchange with reporters in the White House Rose Garden over the deaths of soldiers in Niger, Trump not only demonstrates his constant need to puff himself up by denigrating others, but also illustrates the way he exploits what linguists call evidentiality—the semantic marking of an information source—to wrap innuendos in the sheath of truth claims while avoiding responsibility for the veracity of those claims.