American Literacy Review

Here is Donald Trump, so-called President of the United States, in a “blistering” letter to Nancy Pelosi about the impeachment process, most of which was obviously written by lawyers and aides, but a few lines of which, such as the following, were clearly inserted by the man himself, as they bear all the marks of his special form of erudition:

You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!

What does it mean to cheapen the importance of something? Does this mean importance comes cheap now? And what would that mean?

Why is “impeachment” a very ugly word? I admit it lacks the tripping-off-the-tongue charm of “fraudulent,” or the blunt-force Platonism of “demagogue,” but it seems a perfectly acceptable word to me, and one that, unlike so many fancy political words of the moment, actually retains a clear and concrete meaning. So what, exactly, is “ugly” about it, as words go, let alone “very ugly”?

And if “impeachment” is a very ugly word, then why is it so important, such that we ought to be concerned about the cheapening of its importance (whatever that means)?

The best sense I can make of this exclamation from America’s Dear Leader is that ugly words are very important, so it is essential that we not cheapen their ugliness, as Nancy Pelosi has apparently done by using a certain ugly word, “impeachment,” in a manner that is (I gather) insufficiently ugly, and therefore unworthy (i.e., “cheapening”) of the ugliness of this highly important (because ugly) word.

In other words, Trump believes that Pelosi’s use of the word “impeachment” is not ugly enough, i.e., that she has, knowingly or otherwise, prettified the word in some fashion that Trump finds disagreeable.

“Oh, you know exactly what he means, smart aleck!” 

No, I don’t know “exactly what he means.” And neither does anyone else. I believe I know roughly how he feels. But I do not know what he means, at least from that sentence. And what’s more, I don’t believe Trump knows what he means, which is why he is capable of blathering on for a thousand tweets, or a twenty-minute interview, and yet not only fail to define any clear ideas, but actually become increasingly incoherent and self-contradictory over the course of his blather. He has no discernible clear thoughts about even mildly complex matters, and furthermore lacks the basic linguistic facility required to represent such a thought in speech or writing, even if he ever had one. 

This is not a joke. The President of the United States is deficient in reasoning and literacy at a level that we would properly find unsettling in a thirteen-year-old had we not all been raised in government-controlled schools, and therefore spent all of our lives surrounded by such incompetence while continually trying to shrug off its terrifying implications by telling ourselves, “Oh, we all know what we mean.”

No we don’t. That’s why we are where we are today.

Meanwhile, Pelosi is out there barking indignantly at reporters who dare to ask her whether she hates Trump, and insisting that she prays for him all the time. I will buy the idea that she doesn’t hate him (at least any more than she, as a lifelong progressive, hates all humans who do not bend to her whims), since of course this is all just a power-mongering game for her, something she was pressured into by the young communist wing of her own caucus, and which she knows perfectly well is going to cost her party any chance of winning the presidency next year.

But that she prays for Trump — or for anyone or anything else?

Save your prayers for the millions of human souls whose violent denial of earthly life you have promoted and enabled, Nancy.

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