It’s not every day that a White House staffer goes on television to say that the leader of a democratic ally is hell-bound. Or to call said leader names. But we are in an interesting new normal.
Appearing on Fox News, Peter Navarro said, “There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door. And that’s what Bad-Faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference. That’s what Weak, Dishonest Justin Trudeau did.”
It is a truth universally acknowledged that staffers begin to talk and act like their boss. George F. Will noticed this on the Hill, many years ago. Trump calls names, etc. — and the style trickles down. Also, staffers on television seem to know that they have an audience of one, basically: Trump. So they perform for him.
The Trump style trickles down to the country at large, too. A few months ago, I wrote about this phenomenon: Trump trickledown, I call it. I’ve seen people I’ve known and listened to for decades use the word “globalist,” as an epithet. They never used it before. When I press them on what they mean, they are often at a loss. Also, people say “fake news” to refer to news that they find, not false, but unwelcome.
Moreover, I’ve seen the nickname thing — several forms of it, but I am thinking of one. You write a person’s first name, then put the nickname in quotation marks, then write his last name. So it comes out like “Jeff ‘The Flake’ Flake.”
For eons, people have copied the leader, especially a leader of a certain kind. I once knew a federal agent in Detroit who marveled that street toughs often talked like the mayor, Coleman Young. He had trickled down into their heads and tongues. Young sometimes had a lisp; so did the street toughs, in imitation.
Is it true that Castilian Spaniards pronounce certain words as they do because of a lisping king, long ago? Evidently not, but it’s a good story.
Anyway, this phenomenon is human, but it is not always admirable. And new normals should sometimes be rethought.