George Will On Our “Shabbiest” President

When one self-regarding man undertakes to analyze another, it can get interesting.

I typically find George Will to be just this side of insufferable. If we are talking about people who clearly take themselves way too seriously, he may well set the bar for the category. That said, he is clearly very intelligent, and occasionally he’s even insightful. (I’m told by baseball fans that his observations about the game are excellent.)

At any rate, his recent description of Donald Trump in “The Shabbiest U.S. President Ever” strikes me as “on the money.”

The current iteration of the Republican Party doesn’t escape Will’s wrath, and he’s properly scornful of the Senate’s unwillingness to act as part of an independent branch of government. But he saves most of his considerable vocabulary of insults for Trump.

The president’s most consequential exercise of power has been the abandonment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, opening the way for China to fill the void of U.S. involvement. His protectionism — government telling Americans what they can consume, in what quantities and at what prices — completes his extinguishing of the limited-government pretenses of the GOP, which needs an entirely new vocabulary. Pending that, the party is resorting to crybaby conservatism: We are being victimized by “elites,” markets, Wall Street, foreigners, etc.

After 30 years of U.S. diplomatic futility regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, the artist of the deal spent a few hours in Singapore with Kim Jong Un, then tweeted: “There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.” What price will the president pay — easing sanctions? ending joint military exercises with South Korea? — in attempts to make his tweet seem less dotty?

Will spends a few sentences berating the media for its “lazy” fixation on “Trump as shiny object.” Then he gets serious.

Dislike of him should be tempered by this consideration: He is an almost inexpressibly sad specimen. It must be misery to awaken to another day of being Donald Trump. He seems to have as many friends as his pluperfect self-centeredness allows, and as he has earned in an entirely transactional life. His historical ignorance deprives him of the satisfaction of working in a house where much magnificent history has been made. His childlike ignorance — preserved by a lifetime of single-minded self-promotion — concerning governance and economics guarantees that whenever he must interact with experienced and accomplished people, he is as bewildered as a kindergartener at a seminar on string theory.

Which is why this fountain of self-refuting boasts (“I have a very good brain”) lies so much. He does so less to deceive anyone than to reassure himself. And as balm for his base, which remains oblivious to his likely contempt for them as sheep who can be effortlessly gulled by preposterous fictions. The tungsten strength of his supporters’ loyalty is as impressive as his indifference to expanding their numbers.

This strikes me as an accurate–indeed, a perceptive– description.

I just can’t help wondering what a similarly penetrating examination of George Will would look like.


  1. Well, Sheila, an analysis of Will would have to include this phrase:

    “pluperfect self-centeredness”

    I’m not even going to look it up.

    Anyway, can you remember what it was like to be 8 years old?

    I can…since it was back before video gaming, I played outside with the neighborhood kids all the time. Whiffle ball, bike races, kick the can at night, playgrounds, etc.

    At age 8, young Donald was given a $250,000 allowance making him a millionaire by age 12. If we have any childhood development gurus reading, maybe they could give us their perspective of what that would do to a child’s development.

    I can only guess, but it would certainly have a negative impact on one’s emotional maturity. I also heard that Donald’s daddy would bail him out of jams that he got himself in…imagine what that did to his maturity. While no negative consequences might seem advantageous, it defies an individual from experience the simple spiritual law of cause and effect.

    How can a person grow up (mature) if there is never negative consequences?

    At the center of ALL spiritual and emotional growth is PAIN. If you remove PAIN from reality, what are the impacts to the individual?

    I cannot even imagine living in a world like that just like Donald cannot imagine what it’s like living in a world worth pain. He’s a pampered princeling and so are his kids. Their comments about the furloughed government employees showed a complete lack of empathy. None…they were so out of touch it was embarrassing.

    Once again, the only way I know to develop empathy is to undergo painful situations. If you never have to experience negative circumstances, how can you develop empathy?

  2. Bingo! While I’d rather read your take on describing just how base Trump is this will (no pun intended) do. Stay warm!!

  3. I cannot imagine spending even five minutes in a conversation with George Will. Wait….he most likely doesn’t engage in conversation…..he strikes me as someone who prefers to lecture anyone he can trap into listening to him blather on and on.


  4. I wrote this once before and I’ll write it again. Donald Trump didn’t fall out of the sky and into the laps of the Republican faithful. He is the culmination of the Republican party’s “politics of divisiveness” over the past 20 years and merely replaces their dog-whistle with a bullhorn. Ignorant? Yes. Lazy? Yes. But not much different than the web Dick Nixon started weaving in 1968.

  5. People, chill. Just enjoy the symphony of words that flow so wickedly and harmoniously that the object of his abuse won’t even know the depth of the insults, or that he has been excoriated. And, spring training begins shortly. “Play ball,”

  6. He may be a supercilious twit, but it’s kind of nice to know that I’m not the only person out there who loves big words. Thanks George Will.

  7. So George Will is obsessing over losing an election he probably should have won……..

  8. George Will is a master of the English language. He’s also a staunch conservative. When he excoriates a Republican of any stripe, it means that that Republican has become a monster. Why, just this weekend he used a fantastic word to describe the bucket of septic tank contents known as Lindsey (Cracker) Graham as being guilty of “tergiversation”. He even instructed us to look it up. I did. It was a perfect fit.

    Yes, Will goes over the top every chance he gets. Still, being in command of the English language is something everyone, especially wannabe journalists, should strive for.

  9. On July 18, George Will was a panelist on The Beat, with Ari Melber on MSNBC. The discussion went something like this:
    President Trump walked back a statement that implied he sided with Russian President Putin over U.S. Intelligence officials. Conservative columnist George Will joins The Beat to discuss his latest piece calling Trump a “sad, embarrassing wreck of a man” and notes that Trump’s language is indicative of his thought pattern, telling Ari Melber: “If you can’t say something, you can’t think it”.
    What Will actually said (at about the 5 minute mark) according to my transcription was, “The President is syntactically challenged. He has a difficult time getting from subject, to object and predicate through a sentence. His sentences seem to explode in mid-flight. And for that reason, it sometimes is difficult to know what he intended to say. I think as a matter of philosophy, if you can’t say something, you can’t think it. And, the fact that a lot of what he says comes out in confused language indicates there is confusion straight through.”

  10. “It must be misery to awaken to another day of being Donald Trump.” – I don’t think I buy that. I think when you’re coddled and deluded for your entire life – with the unearned wealth to live in opulence – you’re probably pretty content.

    That’s the saddest thing. He’s pathetic, dim witted, reactionary, childish (the list is endless) – but HE thinks he’s wonderful and everyone around him tells him he’s wonderful. The idea that he’s secretly miserable is an idea I understand wanting to believe (equivalent to hoping there’s a hell so bad people can go there) but I think it’s very unlikely. He’s happier with himself every day more than anyone you know has ever been in his or her life.

  11. When bandini hits the fan from every direction, historians if not playwriters, will savor the theatrics of grandstanding Trump Style this past week while standing victoriously on top of steaming muck. Just when our President is celebrating a devastating loss to the unexpected Warrior Grandma Pelosi, as some sort of concocted eagle war dance in the Rose Garden to a planted cheering audience made up of his own cabinet, can you believe Roger Stone?!! After what was supposed to be a surprise 6 a.m. raid the same day at his home, did we witness an upstaged fashion warp from Leopold & Price to a chic Che Guevera/John Lennon makeover posing a Nixon victory salute while boarding Impeachment One??! What amazing theatrics for birds from the same feather. Not only was our President upstaged by a powerful woman nemisis, he was upstaged by one of his closest friends? This all among many other antics will be fabulous material for a Broadway satire comedy to sellout crowds ten years from now. The show will outdo the widely acclaimed “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” !!!

  12. George the word meister was born and raised in Urbana, Illinois, a town housing the liberal University of Illinois and conservative corn farmers in west-central Illinois (and one, as it happens, where I was married to a then student working on her doctorate many moons ago.

    George was therefore influenced by a yin-yang environment and came down on the side of the corn farmers, though his current pronouncements now reflect the yin of Urbana in light of experience, the experience of having a childishly ill and ignorant president, which is or should be enough to have a Bircher become a communist.

    George was and is still a conservative; Don has no label; he is whatever he wants to be in any given situation, from whore-monger through his self-describing diplomatic successes with North Korea and Russia, though he is apparently ignorant of the Monroe Doctrine as he sits benignly while Putin is intervening in Venezuela. Parenthetically, would Putin’s interference have anything to do with the fact that Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves, greater even that Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, the U.S. et al.? Nah, perish the thought!

    I do not usually agree with what George writes, but he is right on his observations in re Trump – dead right. Educate us some more, George. . .

  13. If a person really has something to say, heorshe will master the language so as to be perfectly clear about whatever it is that is important enough to be perfectly clear about.

    Which is a backhanded and somewhat nicer way of saying, If that which someone says is not clear, then what they want to say cannot be important enough to be clear about …and/or the speaker has never had the gumption or percipience to master even the language to which heorshe was born.

    And it is worth noting that the absence of gumption leaves exposed to the world all those negative character traits like ignorance, cowardice, inanity, stupidity, applesauce and flap-doodle.

    On the other hand, mere venting requires no language skills or gumption.

  14. I guess for some people George Will’s slam at President Agent Orange and the Pastor Pence is good thing. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. George Will has never been a friend of Progressive causes.

    George Will is a part of that pompous pontificating American Exceptionalism Elite, so beloved by the McMega-Media. This Elite demands nothing less than American Domination. Well to be more precise Multi-National Corporate Domination, with the US Military or CIA Coups as back-up, just in case some Third World country decides to stray, like Venezuela.

    President Agent Orange cloistered up bringing is not terribly different than Bush the Younger’s up bringing. Bush the Younger without a doubt was born with the golden pacifier in his mouth.
    Just in case anyone forgets it was Bush the Younger and his gang who started with the war with Iraq, with all it’s untended consequences across the Middle East and the World.

    As Chris Hedges writes: “The ruling elites are painfully aware that the foundations of American power are rotting. The outsourcing of manufacturing in the United States and the plunging of over half the population into poverty will, they know, not be reversed. The self-destructive government shutdown has been only one of numerous assaults on the efficiency of the administrative state. The failing roads, bridges and public transportation are making commerce and communications more difficult.”

    “The soaring government deficit, now almost a trillion dollars thanks to the Trump administration’s massive corporate tax cuts, cannot be eliminated. The seizure of the financial system by global speculators ensures, sooner rather than later, another financial meltdown.”

    “The ruling ideology of neoliberalism, the ruling elites recognize, has been discredited across the political spectrum. This is forcing the elites to make unsavory alliances with neofascists, who in the United States are represented by the Christian right. This Christianized fascism is swiftly filling Trump’s ideological void. It is embodied in figures such as Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Brett Kavanaugh and Betsy DeVoss.”

  15. George Will isn’t the problem. Donald Trump is a distraction from the problem. Robert Mueller is doing his job and doesn’t need our help.

    2020 is the problem that we need to be working on. We have this year to prepare by deciding who can unite our fractious selves and start the long climb home.

    Donald will take care of himself. His base will support him no matter what he says and does because they have fake news to pacify them.

    We have news and one of our challanges is to try to keep real distinct from fake and while that may seem easy, it’s not. Trumpians will spend more time on our side of the discussion telling us what’s wrong with our thinking than on their side of the discussion which really has nothing to campaign on or for.

    We need to focus and concentrate like the future of the world depends on us.

  16. Pete – so, so RIGHT ON! Use your energy to take back the Senate and send a servant leader to the WH!

  17. Maybe we shouldn’t be so judgmental with George Will. He seems to me like a man who would love to break with the Republican Party, but who has been so immersed for so long he can’t muster the courage to do what he knows is right. If he were to sit down with someone like Steve Schmidt for a few hours of conversation, he might find the strength of character that has so far eluded him.

    As for Will’s sesquipedalianistic propensities, he is a fitting successor for one of my teenage idols, Norman Lewis, who wrote, “Word Power Made Easy”, and thereby solidified my love for my native language.

  18. Outstanding, as usual, Sheila. One ironic thing about Trump: he calls the New York Times “failing”. He calls MSNBC, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, et al. “fake” because they criticize him and point out all of his lies. The truth is, he desperately wants the affirmation of these media. He is from New York, and his home town paper, so to speak, which he probably grew up reading, is one of his biggest critics. He also desperately wants to be praised by respected journalists like Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams and George Stephanolopous, but all he gets are Limbaugh, Drudge, Coulter and Faux News.

  19. When GW is forced to my attention, I’m reminded of something my dad memorized from a 1910 newspaper, when he was 9 years old. Definition of a paraphrase: Simply a circumlocutory and pleonastic circle of oratorical sonorosity circumscribing an atom of fidelity lost in verbal profundity. Or something from a 1950’s sci-fi mag; AN UNFIT GUIDE TO TECHNICAL WRITING: Don’t ever use sesquipidalian polysyllabics continuously, however remember pentecontemporaneously not to use solely abacedarian monosyllabics. It’s been a while, so I wouldn’t bet on the spelling!

  20. Shelia’s piece, George’s piece, and most of these comments are examples of wonderful thought processes and mighty fine writing. Thank you all so very much.

  21. I can’t recall ever agreeing with George Will until he spouted his views on Donald Trump. Will excoriates him so majestically and in words Trump would not understand and may not be able to look up. Pluperfect.

  22. Sheila’s description, and most of you others, of George Will, is so much on target of yourselves. You folks should look into the mirror and ask yourselves; am I just as much of America’s problem as all the other people whom I constantly deride? You are soooooo smug, so intelligent and so right!

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