Superlative Abuse

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You’ve never seen torture like we’re going to torture your academic sensibilities. 

For 8 enlightened years, our president was a man of letters, an academic, a reader and a writer who engaged with books because he wanted to read and write them. He possessed a deft and detailed grasp of the English language, allowing him to communicate nuanced information at an advanced level. And yes, this alienated him from people who found education suspicious, and thinking heretical. But for those who admire intelligence, and especially after 8 years of Dubya, having a smart guy run the show was pretty reassuring. And maybe it made us forget that being eloquent and logical are not requirements for the office.

Critics keep saying that ridiculing the current administration isn’t the answer, that positive engagement is the only way to effect change, but how else are you supposed to respond to something like Thursday’s “press conference”? Like, at what point within the rambling, lies, evasion, lies, aggrandization, lies, self-congratulatory fantasy, and more lies do you interject a ray of enlightenment without touching on the inanity? It seems to me that it has to go the other way. When the majority of people finally understand they’ve been duped by word salad and ostentatious noise, then America will get off its butt and demand sanity. But obviously, I don’t know much about human beings because I couldn’t imagine that the reincarnation of P.T. Barnum could ever win a presidential election, and because I wrote this incredibly nerdy and somewhat esoteric comic that’s probably only funny to the sesquipedalian among us.

Words are important to me.

So, in between all of the rambling, lies, &c, it was the inappropriate use of superlatives that stood out for me in the text, this pattern of seeing everything not just in black and white, but also in extremity. It can’t be “good.” It has to be “the greatest.” And it can’t be “bad.” It has to be “the worst.” Unless you were actually born and raised in a neo-Nazi stronghold somewhere in the mountains of Montana and never left the compound, I guarantee you that the president is not the least anti-semitic person you’ll ever meet, not just because it’s crazy to claim the superlative on anything that hasn’t been measured by the Guiness Book, or someone with higher standards of accuracy, but also because I’ve heard audio clips of him making anti-semitic statements in the past. But he can’t say, “I don’t believe I harbor harmful stereotypes about Jewish people.” He has to claim to be the least anti-semitic person you’ll ever meet.

Man, I was raised in a traditionally Jewish family and I wouldn’t say that I’m the least anti-semitic person you’ll ever meet. I mean, I was on J-Date.

I rarely watch press conferences, and I didn’t watch this one. Even when Obama was president, I didn’t watch the State of the Union: I prefer to get my information textually. It allows for a more personal and thoughtful analysis of words. Also, I’m a terrible listener. So I always read transcripts. I read this one twice. I bet the guy who spewed those words out of his face hole didn’t read them once.

 

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