Wednesday, June 01, 2016

In A Word

Today Hillary made news by calling Trump "a fraud," due to revelations concerning what she called Trump U. (as explained here and here and especially here), while others were implying the word when discussing Trump's delayed donations to veterans' organization (summarized here and here.)

But a couple of days ago, the word scientist Steven Hawking used to describe Trump was "demagogue."  Satirist Andy Borowitz at the New Yorker responded: "The theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking angered supporters of Donald J. Trump on Monday by responding to a question about the billionaire with a baffling array of long words.

Speaking to a television interviewer in London, Hawking called Trump “a demagogue who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator,” a statement that many Trump supporters believed was intentionally designed to confuse them.
Moments after Hawking made the remark, Google reported a sharp increase in searches for the terms “demagogue,” “denominator,” and “Stephen Hawking.”

In this case satire was not far from the truth, at least in one respect.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary site reported an immediate 9000% jump in searches for the meaning of "demagogue."

But reviewing that definition can be instructive for everyone.  While "fraud" is certainly applicable, "demagogue" turns out to be a remarkably precise fit for Donald Trump: "a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power.”

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