It wasn’t what Trump said, exactly; it was how he said it. His letter used two spaces at the end of every sentence, just like clueless old fuds do. Just. Like. I. Do.
Now I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, Wait a minute, the president didn’t type it himself! You are undoubtedly right. He also obviously didn’t write it himself: I’m pretty darn sure that Trump, whose speech has been analyzed to be on a fourth-grade level, the lowest of any president since this metric was first applied (to Herbert Hoover), has never used the word “tribalization” in his life, and cannot define it. But the evidence is clear that Trump micromanaged that letter — as suggested by, among other things, its use Of randomly Capitalized words and The occasional, startling Inappropriate Appearance of screamers, which is what we writers call exclamation points. Trump is screamer in chief. He’s not POTUS so much as SHOUTATUS.
The letter also contains some contentions only Trump would make, such as that his phone call to the Ukrainian president — which immediately sent loyal aides into the hallways, cowering and gibbering and scrambling to hide the evidence as best they could, wishing there were a “this tape will self-destruct” option like the one available to Mr. Phelps — was “perfect.” No one in America is dumb enough to actually think that call was “perfect,” and I am including lobsters in restaurant fish tanks.
In short, I’m pretty darn sure that in this letter, for whatever reason, the president demanded not one but two spaces after each period. (There is a precedent with this president. Consider his demands vis-a-vis after-dinner ice cream scoops.)
The two-spaces-after-a-period typing convention is something that is obsolete, like us boomers. It’s a throwback to the era of mechanical typewriters, when letter spacing was chaotic and you needed that extra space to emphasize the end of a sentence and the beginning of another. That two-space habit was, not surprisingly, habit-forming. I have never been able to break it. Neither, apparently, has Donald Trump. The only difference is a trivial one: I am ashamed of my disability. Trump is apparently proud of his.
But we are still yoked by our habit. I have started worrying about other attributes this ghastly president and I might share.
Bad hair. This one is obvious. I was going to eliminate it as a concern because a person does not choose his or her hair. But, of course, we do. I choose not to own a comb or brush, so my head looks like a toy poodle and a Shih Tzu in frantic sexual congress. He chooses to employ the comb in a futile and frankly infantile effort to deceive, the way a toddler plays hide-and-seek by standing out in the open and covering her eyes. My point is, same difference.
Pushy, vulgar New Yorker. We are both that. The only difference is that he was a big kid and I was a little kid, so he learned to use his size to be a bully and insult people, and I learned to use my disagreeable, whiny voice to make people do what I say so they can leave.
Cruel, mean person. In his case, he does it because he is a cruel, mean person. I do it because I write humor. Same difference. In his case he gets to rip kids from their parents’ arms. In my case, I get to rip him a new one.
Physical fitness. We both eat lard for breakfast, lunch and dinner and consider rising and descending on the toilet to be adequate exercise for the day.
Age. I am 68, and I drink a bit. He is 73 and doesn’t. Insurance actuaries will tell you there isn’t a huge difference between us, in terms of life expectancy. We’re both likely to cork in the next 10 years or so. The bad news: We’re both pushy, vulgar, cruel, mean people. We might live on and on and on, through sheer cussedness.
Email Gene Weingarten at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find chats and updates at washingtonpost.com/magazine.
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