On a whim, I decided to pick apart one of Donald Trump’s interviews and point out the various bits of empty rhetoric. I intended to do this for the entire interview, but I quickly lost steam and came to a halt after a few hundred words.

This is not an exhaustive analysis, and others may do a better job.

Huge thanks to rev.com for the Donald Trump Town Hall Transcript.

The interview

Sean Hannity:
And now, here’s my town hall that we taped earlier today from an airplane hangar in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Now, by the way, we followed all the rules and recommendations of the county in which we’re doing this. So as to have as many people as they recommended, small crowd, but an enthusiastic group of people. Obviously, because of all that we’ve been dealing with COVID-19, we had a lot of ground to cover tonight. Watch this. Thank you, Mr. President. Thanks for joining us. We’re going to take some audience questions throughout the hour. You’re here in Wisconsin, one of the things that everybody’s looking for and we’ll get into more detail throughout the hour is the economy, you are going to leave this town hall, and you’re going to announce that you’re building 20 new ships. You rebuilding the military and how many jobs?

Donald Trump:
Well, it’s going to be probably 6,000, 7,000 jobs, could go up to 10 in Wisconsin alone. And it’s a great shipyard that was on hard times. And now it’s a very good shipyard and a lot of people are going to be working1. And it’s one of the most beautiful ships2. It looks like a yacht with a lot of ammunition on it, I will tell you3. It’s really something4. And we’ll probably end up with 20 or 25. And these are big ones, beautiful ships. And they do a beautiful job in Wisconsin.5 So I’m here, it’s sort of like a launch.6 We’re starting work and the contract’s all given and you won it right here, so congratulations folks.

  1. I made things great!
  2. Word association game: shipyards => ships, beautiful ships!
  3. Emphasis/Filler
  4. Emphasis/Filler
  5. Filler
  6. Don’t forget about me!

Sean Hannity: We as a nation, we’ve been watching, it was universal agreement that what happened to George Floyd should never happen, can never happen again. And you’ve been very outspoken about it as well. And they were peaceful protestors, but then there were people rioting. We see anarchy, we see rocks and bottles and bricks and Molotov cocktails thrown at police officers, police precincts burn to the ground. In Seattle, an autonomous zone that still remains, is changing apparently today but taken over, including a police precinct. And you’re offering all of these states help, New York, Illinois, and Washington. What are they telling you when you offer them help?

Donald Trump:
Well, first of all1, we have arrested, I think almost, but it could be over the number, hundreds of people.2 We have arrested a lot of people for what they’ve done.3 They’ve created bedlam.4 They’ve destroyed very important things.5 I mean, you’re also talking about statues of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln6. They’d like to get Jesus, you know that, right?7 They said, “We want to get Jesus.”8

  1. Filler
  2. Generic “we got the bad guys”
  3. Generic “we got the bad guys”
  4. Generic “bad guys did bad things”
  5. Generic “bad guys did bad things”
  6. Fearmongering. (Folks want to get rid of a statue of a slave kneeling before Lincoln but not all Lincoln statues, which is what Trump’s implying.)
  7. Fearmongering
  8. Fearmongering

Sean Hannity:
Yeah, you had Shaun King, the radical.

Donald Trump:
These have nothing to do with any particular event1, other than they’re troublemakers or agitators2. And they’re anarchists3. The big thing they want is they want to really destabilize our country4 and we don’t let them5. So I said to my people, “If you’ve arrested so many, how come we don’t know about it?”6 They said, “We don’t talk about it, sir, we do it.”7 But I said, “I think the public should know it.”8 And we have a statues act, a monument act, which puts you in jail for 10 years if you do what they’ve done. So we’ve got that.9 We’ve got all the tapes because the nice part is it’s all on television.10 Like the character on the horse the other day11, he’s up there putting on the ropes. He’s in trouble12, on the Andrew Jackson … beautiful, it’s beautiful, right opposite the White House.

  1. Tell a lie often enough, and folks will believe it.
  2. Generic “bad guys doing bad things”
  3. Fearmongering (The vast majority of protestors are not anarchists.)
  4. Fearmongering
  5. Generic “we get the bad guys!”
  6. Conversation with no specific people, place, or time
  7. Conversation with no specific people, place, or time
  8. Complain about how the public doesn’t know what’s really going on.
  9. Filler
  10. TV captures everything—but not really. At all.
  11. “I’d tell you his name if I knew it”,
  12. Generic “we’ll punish the bad man”