Trump’s Historic Histrionics
One of my very first purchases when I arrived in the United States 60 years ago, was a 1957 edition of the Webster’s New World Dictionary.
Even though there are now so many better and faster methods — and yellowing and dog-eared as my dictionary is — I still refer to it when I am not sure of the meaning or spelling of a certain word.
So, when I learned that I was using “histrionics” when describing Trump or his policies, I referred to my trusted Webster’s and discovered that I was guilty of using:
1. theatricals; dramatics.
2. an artificial or affected manner, display of emotion, etc.; theatricality.
Ok, I plead guilty and I flimsily blame it on the unprecedented, poisoned political ambience we find ourselves in, but I also thank God for living in a land where “histrionics” are still tolerated by most.
Having said that, I discovered this morning that I am in “good company.”
For, lo and behold, Trump has not only been known for engaging in histrionics, but is now famous for “making history [of doing so] at a ‘historic’ level.”
In “There is something truly historic about Trump,” Dana Milbank details a few of Trump’s many “historic” achievements. Historic because he deems them to be so, repeatedly:
His historic, very historic 12-day trip to Asia.
His historic, very historic, truly historic, full of historic, of historic significance, unprecedently historic trip to the Middle East.
Other “historic” accomplishments (“A search of the White House website finds that the president and his team have declared their actions historic nearly 400 times in their first 10 months in office,” Milbank says):
• Trump’s initiative on women’s entrepreneurship.
• Pulling out of the Paris climate-change agreement.
• Executive orders on whistleblowers, financial services and the Antiquities Act.
• The Clemson football team’s 2016 season.
• The launch of a ship named for Gerald Ford.
• Securing “historic increases in military spending.”
Trump even declared his non-popular-vote election victory as the work “of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before.”
Milbank also lists some of Trump’s “historic” promises: To introduce “historic tax reform;” that his first Cabinet meeting would be “a historic Cabinet meeting;” that his “historic tax plan” would have a “historic cut;” “a historic immigration bill.”
Even looking back on his failures, Trump manages to declare them “historic” victories. Dana Milbank:
“After 11 weeks on the job, Trump reported that he had ‘achieved historic progress.’ At the 100-day mark, his ‘historic progress’ included ‘historic steps to secure our border.’”
“Some things are more historic than others,” Milbank says, “When Congress missed its ‘historic’ chance to repeal Obamacare, Trump’s executive order to undermine Obamacare was ‘truly historic.’”
Trump even manages to turn human tragedies into personal “historic achievements.”
Milbank: “But ‘there’s never been anything so historic’ as the recent hurricanes, the handling of which earned Trump high grades — from himself.”
Historic histrionics are apparently very contagious. Milbank mentions, “Vice President Pence is making even more historic strides to see historic occasions everywhere,” and he quotes other White House officials’ use of “Historic pace,” “Historic accomplishments,” “Historic visit,” “Historic gathering,” “Historic day,” “Historic act,” “Historic event,” “Historic speech.”
“What actually is historic about this first year of the Trump presidency will be left to the historians. But so far, Trump’s actual achievements have been few. What seems most historic about this moment:
I feel much better now.
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