Katrina Pierson is a paid employee of the Trump campaign. She has worked for the campaign as a spokeswoman since last fall, despite constantly saying bizarre or erroneous things. We compiled them earlier this month and had to update the list within a week after she declared that Hillary Clinton suffered from "dysphasia." (Clinton doesn't.)
But what we didn't know is that Pierson also dabbles in explorations of the boundaries of linguistics. Words, she argued Thursday morning on CNN, are essentially meaningless, and, therefore, it is incorrect to hold Donald Trump to account for changing his positions. How do we know that words are meaningless? Because Pierson told us so, in defense of her boss's immigration flip-flop.
— Correct The Record (@CorrectRecord) August 25, 2016
"He hasn't changed his position on immigration," she told CNN with a straight face. "He's changed the words that he is saying."
Someone, it's not clear who, laughs. Maybe it is all of us? Or maybe it is former Ted Cruz staffer Amanda Carpenter, who joined Pierson on the panel. Either is believable.
Pierson went on to explain how she thinks this isn't a switch by Trump, arguing that he hadn't changed his position on illegal immigration (he is against it) but instead is just figuring out how he will do it. That's not true, of course. Trump has repeatedly talked about deporting the millions of people who immigrated illegally to the United States, even speaking favorably about President Dwight Eisenhower's "Operation Wetback," which was an effort to move thousands of people who were in the country illegally back out. It is not generally regarded as a high point in American history.
Perhaps this is a higher-level philosophical discussion. Wittgenstein would tell us that successful communication through language demands an overarching context of rules and understanding. Pierson is either proving this or challenging it: Either she is asking that we accede to her rules for defining a change of position (which excludes the idea that the words used to describe the position have any significance on the underlying position) or she is suggesting that there are no rules and that language is subjective to the observer, in the way that we perceive colors or smells.
In that latter case, Trump's position on immigration can be described as "blue buffalo battering ram" because no "words" can truly describe the position itself. The policy position — concrete and never-changing — is the intangible ideal, and we, like cavemen, simply use grunts and moans to delineate its boundaries where we see them. Pierson may as well have reverted to Plato, emphasizing that the shadows you see on the wall of your policy-cave are merely a weak approximation of the brilliance of reality. We are dogs using our noses to navigate the world, missing out on the true nature of existence.
Or maybe it was spin, I guess? Hard to say.