President Donald Trump has pushed the bounds of decency far beyond their previous levels with his potty mouth, according to a story Sunday in the New York Times.
“In modern times, presidents have rarely been church mice afraid of a little salty language,” wrote Peter Baker of the Times in “The Profanity President” Trump’s Four-Letter Vocabulary.”
But “President Trump has grown increasingly willing in recent months to say in public what most of his predecessors tried to keep behind closed doors.
“His is the profanity presidency, full of four-letter denunciations of his enemies and earthy dismissals of allegations lodged against him. At rallies and in interviews, on Twitter and in formal speeches, he relishes the bad-boy language of a shock jock, just one more way of gleefully provoking the political establishment bothered by his norm-shattering ways.”
Baker has taken to analyzing President Trump’s speeches for curse words and reports that in a single speech last Friday, he “managed to throw out a ‘hell,’ an ‘ass’ and a couple of bullsh*ts” for good measure. In the course of just one rally in Panama City, Fla., earlier this month, he tossed out 10 ‘hells,’ three ‘damns’ and a ‘crap.’”
Baker noted that the crowds at Trump’s speeches and rallies do not seem to mind the language, even though many bring children with them. And he quotes Melissa Mohr, author of “Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing,” saying that swearing is part of his appeal and creates the impression Trump is “’telling it like it is.’”
He quoted Mohr as saying, “We tend to believe people when they swear because we interpret these words as a sign of strong emotions. In this case, the emotion is often powerful anger, which his supporters seem to love.”
Indeed, the unsophisticated people who support Trump seem to be the target of this piece. “While traditionalists may deem it unpresidential and a poor example for children, Marta Joynt Kumar, a longtime scholar of presidential communication, said gritty language was part of the show put on by Mr. Trump, the onetime reality television entertainer, for his fans,” Baker wrote.
He quotes Kumar on how Trump’s supporters view him, saying: “He knows they like him to use words that lie over the edge of the traditional boundary of presidential decorum. His controversial word choices are an aspect of his role as the disrupter he promised his constituents he would be.”
Baker suggested Trump is getting worse. “Any restraint Mr. Trump might have sought to exhibit early in his term seems to have eroded in recent months,” Baker wrote.
He said Trump used the BS word just once in his first two years in office but has now said it four times in speeches in the last three months. “An unscientific survey seems to suggest that, if anything, Mr. Trump is growing more comfortable with crudeness,” Baker wrote.
Baker also suggested Trump’s use of swear words has caused his own employer, the New York Times, to become more comfortable using them. It used BS just 14 times in its history before Trump was elected but has used it 26 times since. “He has either coarsened the public discourse or reflected it, or perhaps both, depending on your view of him, but he is not alone,” Baker wrote.
There have been other presidents who cursed – the “Give Them Hell Harry” slogan is mentioned, as are two instances by former vice president Dick Cheney and one by former vice president Joseph Biden.
But “never has any president pushed the boundaries of language as far as Mr. Trump. He had a foul mouth long before politics, of course, but he seemed to try, however fitfully, to clean it up for a while when he set his sights on the White House. “Still, he could not resist at times.”
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Author: Brian McNicoll