Trump’s inauguration speech exemplified everything seductive and dangerous about the far right’s rhetoric.
The music of his sales pitch is punctuated by phrases and refrains that become so familiar that the rest of his speech fades into the background: sad, tremendous, loser, beautiful. That is why he is such a delight to parody, and so easy to mock. (...)
But the pedantry of a certain kind of liberalism — DESTROYING Trump for various errors or slips, correcting “fake news,” “fact-checking” often deliberately metaphorical statements, and so on — involves a denial of something intrinsic to language: the fact that it exceeds signification. Because language is material, it always goes beyond sense-making, beyond meaning.(...)
Rhetoric makes use of the materiality of words, their sensuous properties, in the art of persuasion. Trump’s habit of uttering short sentences, ended with monosyllabic words, is a case in point. They come, Puschak notes, “in a rhythmic series like a volley of jabs.”
Of course, Trump cannot govern with discourse alone, so his tenure will be marked by crisis. But his success tells us something.(...)
It is a testament not just to Trump’s narrow-if-effective repertoire of bombast and grandiosity, but to the potential glamour, for millions of people on the downswing of their lives, of far-right discourse and its promise of power and restoration. That is the truly dangerous side of Trump’s rhetoric. And it’s what is missed in the gotchas and demolition jobs on his incoherence and poor grammar.”