President Trump has the best words — and only the best. If there is a word he does not like, or a phrase or proper noun that is not performing up to his expectations, he calls that word into his office and he tells that word, in no uncertain terms, “You’re fired.”
Earlier this month, we learned that Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel dropped “Romney” from her official communications — at the request of Trump, who did not like McDaniel using the name “Romney,” even though that is her name, because it is also the name of her uncle Mitt, who Trump regards as a “loser.”
Word dismissed. Problem solved.
Now The Washington Post’s Lena Sun and Juliet Eilperin report that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention barred the use in budget documents of terms Trump officials find objectionable: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”
The CDC disavowed the word ban after a brutal couple of days in which the response proved, to a science-based* certainty, that the Trump administration had made itself vulnerable* to a great diversity* of mockery. The prevailing view: What the fetus* is going on?
(*=Forbidden words used without permission.)
My own analysis, made in consideration with my personal wishes, finds that the administration should not give up on its word ban. In fact, a more extensive word ban — an all-out vocabulary blockade, enforced by an armada of language police — could be Trump’s ticket to survival.
Trump could benefit enormously from restricting the use of the many words, names and phrases that threaten him: Robert Mueller. Good taste. Facts. Spelling. The Geneva Conventions. Suit-jacket buttons. The Constitution. Exercise. International trade. Democrats. Intelligence briefings. Intelligence.
It would be even more effective if the administration replaced problematic words with favorable ones. The tax bill in Congress is deeply unpopular because it’s a giveaway to the rich and it keeps loopholes, such as the tax bonanza for hedge-fund billionaires, that Trump promised to abolish. But if the administration simply bans the word “rich” in favor of “deserving” and replaces “loopholes” with “incentives,” the tax bill is instantly jam-packed with incentives for the deserving.
The tax bill could become even more unpopular when people discover it’s likely that 13 million fewer Americans will have health insurance, and as a result more will get sick and die. But the situation sounds much better if the word “uninsured” is banned in favor of “treatment-unencumbered,” “sick” is replaced with “in transition” and “dead” is replaced by “inactive.”
Trump might also need to restrict use of the words “kickback” and “self-dealing” after Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, reversed himself and announced his support for the bill, just as it emerged that a provision had been added providing a bonanza to real estate investors such as … Bob Corker.
Using the word ban to thwart the Russia probe is more problematic — but doable. “Collusion” would need to be replaced by a more benign word, such as “cooperation.” The name “Russia” could be jettisoned in favor of the friendlier-sounding “Canada” and the problematic phrase “obstruction of justice” replaced by the inoffensive phrase “presidential discretion.” To be safe, Trump should ban “impeachment” in favor of “commendation.” The worst-case headline for Trump becomes: “President Trump commended for using presidential discretion over cooperation with Canada.”
Trump should probably ban the word “irony” after his attorneys argued that the “.gov” emails from his transition team are “private” property and not “official” — even though Trump’s defenders argued the opposite when defending Michael Flynn’s Russia contacts during the transition as “official” and not “private.”
There is no Trump problem a word ban wouldn’t fix. Forbidding the phrases “rules of evidence” and “civil procedure” would prevent meddlesome senators from exposing Trump judicial nominees’ lack of familiarity with what the elites call “law.” Banning the word “credibility” could boost the reputation of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who proclaimed the “defeat of ISIS” on Sunday — just after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said “don’t believe” such claims.
And then there’s poor Rex Tillerson, waiting quietly to be fired as secretary of state. He will need to have words such as “humiliation” and “defenestration” barred to protect his dignity.
Or maybe Trump will inform the secretary of his dismissal simply by announcing he has banned two more words: “Rex Tillerson.”
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.