This week on “Last Week Tonight,” host John Oliver ran down the last year under President Donald Trump and outlined the many ways that Trump has undermined the norms of governing and how Americans talk about ideas.
Among Trump’s favorite techniques, Oliver said, are undermining the media, the practice of “Whataboutism” — i.e., pointing to other people’s perceived bad behavior to excuse one’s own misdeeds, trolling
But one of Trump’s most effective techniques is to speak absolute gibberish, Oliver said. He went on to show a transcript of a Trump speech about Iran as a disembodied voice expressionlessly read the text.
“Look,” Trump said, “having nuclear — my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, okay, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart — you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, okay, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I’m one of the smartest people anywhere in the world — it’s true! — but when you’re a conservative Republican they try — oh, do they do a number — that’s why I always start off: Went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune — you know I have to give my like credentials all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged — but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me — it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these lives are (nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what’s going to happen and he was right — who would have thought?), but when you look at what’s going on with the four prisoners — now it used to be three, now it’s four — but when it was three and even now, I would have said it’s all in the messenger; fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don’t, they haven’t figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so, you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years — but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us.”
Oliver marveled at the meaningless pile-up of words, saying that Trump doesn’t so much speak as throw out combinations of words “a drunk driver crashing a pickup truck full of alphabet soup.”
Allowing Trump’s techniques to spread to other politicians and media outlets so that it becomes the pervasive doctrine of the land poses a serious threat to the U.S. as a democracy and a culture. Seeing how it spreads, he said, is evidence of how we’re already “seriously and lastingly f*cked.”
“The natural endpoint is the erosion of our ability to decide what’s important, have an honest debate and hold one another accountable,” he warned.
Watch the video, embedded below: