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It took a president with only a rudimentary grasp of English to revive Latin. Mirabile Dictu!

Updated: Nov 20, 2019

  • No Russian interference.

  • No collusion.

  • No payoffs to women.

  • No obstruction.

  • No quid pro quo.

And on we go into year four of the president of denials, the president of defense (of his own skin), and the president who has changed the world’s image of the United States from that of a steadfast leader to a whining and irresponsible enfant terrible.

Before Trump, conventional wisdom dictated that a liar needs a good memory to be effective. It’s not true. What a liar needs is an audience without a good memory. Every one of those five statements above has been proven demonstrably false—some just this week—and yet his Fox News devotees continue to pump out the party line—no Russian interference, no collusion, and, as Elaine Benes said so eloquently 22 years ago on Seinfeld (and continues to say in syndication), yada, yada, yada.

She might also claim that Trump’s hold over his followers resembles that of a Svengali (though her pronunciation implied a more benign hold— and maybe that’s closer to the truth. His supporters' desire to believe this con-artist (who promised a return to the America that never was) is so powerful, that even the most baldfaced lie is either excusable, justifiable, or ignorable.

But as with every malefactor, malfeasant, and miscreant, there's a bright side to his incompetence. Donald J. Trump has restored one element of American life and a liberal education: he has reignited our interest in Latin. Dead language? Not any more, not when we can stroll around with quid pro quo on our lips.

Of course we already knew the pro part: pro-life, pro-choice, pro-pro football. But quid? We have the rarely used quidnunc (a gossip, a person always asking "what now?") and even rarer quiddity (the essence of something) but we seldom see quid alone unless we're in England counting our money. Of course status quo has provided us at least one use of quo, so that’s not entirely alien. Still the entire phrase, beaten into submission daily by the left and the right, is new to many.

Quid pro quo—this for that—I guess we'll be hearing it for a while, even though it's actually redundant. All we need is the quid to get rid of the guy. Once a president solicits personal aid from a foreign government, he has committed a crime. Withholding military aid is merely frosting on the cake. I hope we don't lose sight of that.

At any rate, before we give Trump too much credit for expanding our language beyond malefactor, malfeasant, and miscreant, let’s remember that this de facto* leader of the Republican party and his bona fide* attempts to cheat us all with his ego* and his alibis* continues to do more harm than good; so if some ad hoc* committee, e.g.*, one attempting impeachment, can end his reign, that's just a bonus*.

* Straight from Latin to you. (Enfant terrible may not be latin, but it's pretty much self-explanatory.)

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