Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Trump's Tweets Revisited: Concerning Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, 12 Dec. 2017, 5:03 AM US Eastern Time

"Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, [...] 
someone who would come to my office 'begging' 
for campaign contributions not so long ago 
(and would do anything for them), 
is now in the ring fighting against Trump. 
Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!"

On 8 August 2017, President Trump threatened North Korea "with fire and fury [...] the likes of which this world has never seen before." The 8th of August falls between the 6th of August, the anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and 9 August, the bombing of Nagasaki. So whatever Mr. Trump intended to say, in that context of basic calendar what he did say was a threat against North Korea of "fire and fury" exceeding two smallish atomic bombs, a degree of "fire and fury" that would require a hydrogen bomb or several substantial fission bombs. That's what the words mean. 

"Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand [...] would come to my office 'begging' for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them) [...]" is ambiguous only insofar as some people use quotation marks for emphasis, which is a bad idea, since _fresh_ fruit is claimed to be definitely fresh while "fresh" fruit may not be (etc.). Aside from that, the text *says* that L. Gillibrand "would do anything" for campaign contributions; so it means she'd do anything up to the point readers think the tweet has moved into hyperbole and, well, bullshit. When people say "By any means necessary" or "nothing is off the table" or "we will do anything" — I challenge them with the question from NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR, if they'd be willing "to throw sulphuric acid in a child's face [...]." If not (and let us hope not) — spare us such unmodified, "use-your-imagination" threats

Given the image of "begging" (in quotation marks especially), one may stop far short of having Gillibrand start a war or throw acid in a child's face and take Trump's comment as a suggestion of fellatio or other sex act.

WORDS MEAN, if sometimes in complex ways; but Trump has invited such readings and must take responsibility for them. The words of the President of the United States, in a medium we've been told to see as official, had damn well better _mean_ and be chosen carefully. Trump in this recent tweet either has a serious accusation to make or he's defamed a US Senator in a crude and misogynist way — and/or he's shown himself too damaged in his use of language to be trusted in any position of trust or authority.

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