Rebuttal Trump Style: Counteraccusing and Confuting
Copyright 2017 Robert Thibadeau, Ph.D.
Is there an English word that exposes Trump for what he is and how he does it? Words do count. It is worth exploring to see if we have one or two. We begin with the obvious fact that he is constantly rebutting people who he perceives are against him. But what’s the word that describes his rebuttal style?
Rebuttal has three forms. Arguments based on reason (logos), based on emotion (pathos), and based on ethics (ethos: see http://www.niu.edu/wac/archives/files/rebuttal.html). Ethos rebuttals include ad hominin attacks (counterattacks against the character of the critic). Unfortunately, “rebuttal” isn’t the right word for Trump’s rebuttal style. We could try to characterize his rebuttal as ethos or pathos rebuttals which claim a basis in logos, even if the logos happened not to be true but made up (Obama was not born in the USA!).
Frankly, these words from debating theory don’t work very well. His method is to take a truth about himself and reflect that same truth back to the critic (She lies! She’s unstable, can’t be trusted!). Some people have called this a “reflection shield,” but this is just common English words that sort of capture what everybody sees. Also you can’t say “shield” without implying he’s a ‘good guy.’
Words like “bully” or “asshole,” which are true, are also too general and vague. People have nothing to understand; other than that he’s a bully or whatever. They think these qualities mean he must be a good negotiator.
So, is there an accurate phrase for what he does? Looking to psychology, we can say his rebuttal style is a narcissistic and psychotic transference of what he sees as the criticism, transferred onto to his critic. High minded psychological words like these are too many words for people to remember or care about. Too technical.
I wondered if there is an English word, or even short phrase, that seems to better capture his well-honed strategy. I found two candidates which seem to work! One describes what he does in one word. The other one describes the same thing, but also includes why he does it, aside from “winning the argument.” To wit.
Trump’s rebuttal style is counteraccusation. Yup, that’s an English word! It’s a counter of an accusation with a wilder accusation in rebuttal. Accusation means an allegation that a person is guilty of some fault, offense, or crime; an imputation. Usually he just turns the same accusation made of him, or that he thinks is being made of him, and makes the same accusation back but more strongly (“She’s unstable!” “U.S. leaders kill too!”). Sometimes, it is just a return accusation based on an untrue belief he has (“Obama was not born in the USA”). But, his method is always the same: it is extreme counteraccusation.
Interestingly, there is a better word in English but this word is so rarely used and so odd it seems like few people are going to understand it right off. Trump’s style of rebuttal is confutation. His rebuttals are confuting. Confuting means three things, and only the last one, nails him: 1. to prove to be false, invalid, or defective; disprove: to confute an argument. 2. to prove (a person) to be wrong by argument or proof: to confute one's opponent. 3. to bring to naught; confound.
Trumps rebuttal style is to confute the arguments that other people make of what he does. Unfortunately the right, third, meaning of confute, “brings to naught or confound” is considered obsolete by the dictionary. I guess that old meaning just hasn’t been needed for a long time. Confuting was possibly relegated to big brick buildings where the crazy people were not let out.
We watch Trump use counteraccusation to bring confutation to confound his critics. We watch him do this every day, in fact many times every day --on big matters, and major foes, and tiny matters, and minor foes without discrimination. This is why his refusal to confute the Russian arguments against the U.S.A., and his willingness to confute the U.S.A. for the Russian actions against us, are so loudly speaking to us.
So, unless we just want to press him on why he confutes everybody’s observations on him, the right question is why his rebuttal style is counteraccusation? Is it to confute? And why doesn’t he care if the perceived accusation or the declared counteraccusation is in the realm of reality or not? Guess that one is chalked up to his statement that he could murder a man on the street in front of everybody and nobody would care. Of course, that is better described as confutation based on his perception that people are accusing him of not being the smartest person on the planet. Boom.
Robert Thibadeau is a Ph.D. in psychology with a linguistics and computation background. He is also one of the founding Directors of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He has long been a student of the meanings of words and how words and actions establish neural communication between people. His linkedin page is https://www.linkedin.com/in/rhtcmu/ .
June 24, 2017
Did Trump Need Cash?
Copyright 2017 Robert Thibadeau, Ph.D.
Having grown up in a successful real estate family in one of the biggest cities in the USA, I wonder if Trump got a development loan to get the cash to fund his election, and that loan came from one or more Russian Oligarchs as approved by Putin.
It is well known in real estate development to get loans, typically personally signed, from banks and then to live off the loan while completing and monetizing the development. Trump did this because he needed cash for his personal expenses to pay for the election. In real estate, this is called “living off the draw.”
Here is more detail on how this works, and similarly works all the time with real estate developers worldwide. The problem is who needed the money for what, and who made the decisions to make the loans.
Trump says publicly he will pay for his own election. He goes back and tries to figure out where he is going to get that $100,000,000. The usual method comes to mind. He has one or more of his development companies get loans on one or more developments. They go to companies including perhaps an overseas bank or two that they already know they can get money from. They know these companies are themselves controlled by one or more Russian Oligarchs. Long before this, Putin had approved these Oligarchs funding Trump-controlled developments. They just do what they did before, through the entities they already had, funding entities and developments Trump already had, to take care of Trump’s new, publicly known, cash problem.
Putin certainly noticed. Trump certainly noticed. Trump never talked to a Russian. He never contacted a Russian company. He just knew he had a cash source through a chain of corporate entities starting with one or more of his, over to one or more of theirs, and back with cash back to his and then disbursed to himself, “for management expenses.” Perfectly legal in normal law, but in violation of the constitution should Trump become President.
In other words, Putin not only funded a cyberattack to get Trump elected, he funded Trump’s expenses to pay for Trump’s election. And nobody can know without checking Trumps tax returns and following the money. Most important, this is a Constitutional high crime and misdemeanor and a violation of the emoluments clause. Trump knew, and Putin knew, where the cash came from, and probably still comes from. So Trump is inexplicably nice to the Russians at every turn.
So, please ask Trump this question. “Did you fund your election using cash from a company you controlled by obtaining a loan from a company controlled by a Russian or other person under Putin’s control?” I believe the answer is actually yes, but he would want you to prove that before admitting to it, if ever. If you want to ask the question in his language, “Did you fund your election by living off a draw from loans to one of your corporate entities that you knew to be funded by a corporate entity controlled directly or indirectly by Putin?”
4/16/2017 : Scientists March on Washington