The Editor’s Desk: What did you say?

Trying to find sense in President Trump’s ramblings is a futile effort.

I’ve largely steered clear of discussing President Trump, mostly because I find it too depressing to think much about his presidency, which was best summed up by a commentator who said it is like a tire fire started by a train derailment that was caused by a plane crash. As I write this, the president is set to embark on his first presidential trip to Great Britain, something that the British government must have thought seemed like a good idea at the time, and which they now seem to be looking on with all the warmth and affection they’d show to the idea of hosting a rabid skunk at a picnic.

Trump’s time in London will be kept to a bare minimum, mostly to keep him as far as possible from the thousands of protesters set to be there. He will be sent packing to his golf course in Scotland as quickly as possible, presumably on the basis that he will then be the Scots’ problem (the British government has told the Scottish parliament that London will pay the £5 million security bill for Trump’s time in Scotland; presumably they see this as a small price to pay to get him out of England).

Before he heads for Scotland, Trump will meet with the Queen. I am sure that she will be unfailingly polite to the president, in that supremely icy way that the Brits do so well: all smiles on the surface, but dripping with scorn underneath.

And really, how can you be otherwise with Trump? As Exhibit A, I give you the following—I was going to call it a speech, but it’s more like verbal diarrhea, which the president let loose in Montana last week.

As an editor, I have several rules, one of them being that if I need to read a sentence more than once in order to make sense of it, then there’s something wrong with it that needs to be fixed. There is not enough fixing in the world to make sense of the word salad that spilled out of Trump’s mouth, which is quoted here verbatim:

“I have broken more Elton John records, he seems to have a lot of records. And I, by the way, I don’t have a musical instrument. I don’t have a guitar or an organ. No organ. Elton has an organ. And lots of other people helping. No we’ve broken a lot of records. We’ve broken virtually every record. Because you know, look, I only need this space. They need much more room. For basketball, for hockey and all of the sports, they need a lot of room. We don’t need it. We have people in that space. So we break all of these records. Really we do it without like, the musical instruments. This is the only musical: the mouth. And hopefully the brain attached to the mouth. Right? The brain, more important than the mouth, is the brain. The brain is much more important.”

I have read this more times than is healthy, to try to understand what he’s saying, and have only succeeded in giving myself a headache. Soon the man who uttered these words will be in the land of Shakespeare and Dickens and Wordsworth, and dining at Blenheim Palace, where Winston Churchill—one of the greatest political orators of all time—was born. I wonder what he’d make of Trump, and wish we could hear his judgement. It would almost certainly be colourful; at the very least it would be coherent.

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