When Syntax Attacks: Trump Declares Himself One of “Top 20 Leaders in Germany”

Words don’t matter to Donald Trump — either their meanings or their organization. None of it — the content of words, the context of words, the order of words, grammar, syntax, style, precision — none of it matters in the scattered, chaotic mind of this president. That stands to reason, since Trump has no organized, cogent thoughts.

Trump’s heretofore undisclosed second meeting with Vladimir Putin has caused more alarm than it could possibly have caused were we living in reasonable times. To illustrate, suppose that I were to tell you that I, a full-grow and adequately functional adult human (if I may be so immodest), am outside by the pool. You’d probably shrug as if to say, so what? Suppose, on the other hand, that I were to tell you that a 7-year-old neighbor kid is outside by the pool. In that case, you might say with regard to that 7-year-old, with escalating expressions of concern, “Wait, he’s outside? He’s outside by the pool? Is he out there alone? Oh my God, is anybody watching him? Oh my God!”

The reaction among media and sentient adults on learning that Trump met with Putin in an unsupervised environment was more consistent with the second of my two person-at-the-pool hypos. Had Barack Obama talked with Putin under similar circumstances, it would have been singularly unnoteworthy. But Donald Trump is a different matter altogether. Here is a man who should not be left unsupervised to go big-boy potty, let alone to submit himself to the effortless manipulations of a sophisticated strongman with KGB pedigree.

And just as Trump was left unchaperoned to submit to Putin’s masochism, he was also left unchaperoned with his twitter machine when the news broke of his unaccompanied sandbox play date, and so he did what toddlers do when confronted with a finger wag and burst into an undisciplined tantrum.

Thus was born Trump’s latest mangled official statement: “The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!”

What Trump meant to say, of course, was that even an impromptu meeting at a dinner arranged by Germany for the leaders of the G20 nations had been made to look sinister. Instead, he said that it was the dinner, and not the meeting at the dinner, that had been made to look sinister. That isn’t so; nobody has said that the dinner itself was sinister. Furthermore, he wasted precious twitter characters by replacing G20 with “top 20,” and by saying “top 20,” Trump a) created a substantive inaccuracy in that the dinner wasn’t for the world’s — or Germany’s — 20 best leaders, and b) set himself up for the syntactical debacle to follow.

Because Trump can’t edit himself (that malignant narcissism thing) and is so intellectually lazy, he was unable to string his words together in the kind of order that would have prevented his saying something unrelated to the idea he was aiming to express. Instead of saying that he was among 20 leaders at a dinner arranged by Germany, he declared himself one of the “top 20 leaders in Germany,” for whom a dinner had been arranged.

To be one of the top 20 leaders in Germany, one would presumably have to be a) a leader, b) German, and c) efficient, popular, or skilled enough to warrant being ranked in someone’s top 20. Trump is none of those things (and yes, I’m including (a)), and therefore is not one of the “top 20 leaders in Germany.”

It was nice for that one fleeting moment when my brain indulged the only reasonable inference to be drawn form Trump’s tweet: that he had defected to a foreign country and left us behind with the comparatively less chaotic reign of radical theocrat Mike Pence.

But alas, Trump has not defected. He’s just a dumbass.