There’s no disputing Donald Trump is the all-time champion mouth.
He used his mouth to get elected president of the United States. Now, his mouth has been the primary culprit in a New York jury finding him liable for battery and defamation in the Jean Carroll case.
We are tempted to say, “The mouth giveth and the mouth taketh away.”
While Jesus said, “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword,” we also suggest that he who lives by the mouth may die by the mouth.
Consider some other biblical wisdom about the mouth:
- “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies” — Psalm 34:13
- “Men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken” — Matthew 12:36
- “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit — Proverbs 15:4
- “If anyone considers himself religious and does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion worthless” — James 1:26
- “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” — Proverbs 18:21
- “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire and itself set on fire by hell.” — James 3:6
Trump followers love his mouth. He makes nicknaming and name calling into a nouveau art form. Provoked by Trump, name calling spread like wild fire among other candidates. The attacks are personal, nasty and childish.
“Trump followers love his mouth.”
For example, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush accused Trump of being “the chaos candidate.” Following up while campaigning in New Hampshire, Bush called Trump a “jerk.” In the debate of January 14, 2016, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz attacked Trump’s “New York values,” and Trump replied that Cruz may not be a “natural-born citizen.” Later Trump claimed Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. When U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio stooped to genital jokes about Trump, Trump responded by branding Rubio, who is short of stature, as “little Marco.”
Rhetorical scholar Craig R. Smith labeled Trump’s “mouth” as bar talk. He said, “By ‘bar talk,’ I mean that Trump said things from his political pulpit that one would normally only hear after a few drinks in the privacy of an underlit bar.”
Trump claimed undocumented immigrants were “bringing drugs” and “crime” into the country and that some were “rapists.” He called for a wall on the Mexican border that he would force Mexico to fund. Trump said he would prohibit Muslims from immigrating to America. He would bomb ISIS even if that meant killing civilians. When Trump canceled a rally at University of Illinois Chicago on March 11, 2016, demonstrators clashed with his supporters. Two days later in Bloomington, Ill., Trump encouraged retaliation: “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them. … Just knock the hell — I promise you I will pay for the legal fees.”
He sounded tough, and his followers reveled in what they called “telling it like it is.”
Trump bad-mouths women at every turn. In response to remarks Cher made about him, Trump responded, “I knocked the shit out of her” on Twitter. New York Times columnist Gail Collins, according to Trump, has “the face of a dog.” Trump referred to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas.” He has repeatedly called former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi “sick.”
“His habit of nicknaming has become an obsession with his supporters.”
His habit of nicknaming has become an obsession with his supporters. In his presidential campaigns, he uses verbal combat skills to the maximum. He referred to Jeb Bush as a “low-energy” candidate, labeled Ben Carson “pathological.” Ted Cruz was “lyin’ Ted” and a “basket case.” He labeled Hillary Clinton as “crooked Hillary.” Then there’s “Sleepy Creepy Joe,” “Crazy Bernie.”
Sparing no one, Trump mocked, baited, demeaned and cursed his way to the White House. He mockingly imitated a handicapped reporter during the 2016 campaign.
A rhetorical marker of racism in Trump’s discourse is the way he refers to minorities. He calls them “the Blacks,” “the Hispanics,” “the Mexicans,” and “the Muslims.” When a judge of Hispanic descent was put in charge of the Trump University fraud case, Trump said the judge could not be objective because he was “Mexican.” The judge was born in Indiana.
Trump went on to claim a Muslim judge could not be objective if ruling on his case. He told U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts to “go back to their own countries.”
No one can claim the title of the nation’s top mouth without a steady diet of bragging. Trump regularly claims to be a hugely successful businessman and negotiator. He regularly claims “no one” had done more for gays or women than he has. Also, “no one” had studied trade agreements more than he has. He called himself a “stable genius,” “the smartest man in the world,” and insisted he needed no outside advice from experts.
The ticker tape of words flowing from Trump’s mouth are supported by his facial expressions. Rhetorical scholar Donovan Schaefer points out, “The visual rhetoric of Trump’s body — “controlling, coercive and conceited, a combination of traits that embody white privilege and hypermasculinity” — is a necessary augmentation to the Trump script. It consolidates his status as the humiliator in chief.”
His people can’t get enough of Trump’s mouth. Twenty-four million people watched the first Republican debate in 2016. His numbers were off the charts. The media went into a frenzy of attacking Trump and secretly loving the ratings he drew and the profits they were depositing.
Trump’s mouth and mannerisms reflect the image of a bully, a big-mouth and a braggart. And now, his mouth has failed him. A New York jury has found him liable for battery and defamation and awarded $5 million in damages.
Proverbs 11:14 says, “The mouth of a fool brings ruin near.” And the wise woman of Proverbs advises: “To watch over mouth and tongue is to keep out of trouble.”
Don’t be tempted to believe the mouth has been silenced. Trump will roar even more vociferously now that he has been wounded. And never forget that from the mouth of Trump will usher forth more lies, more evil, and more danger for democracy.
As Jesus warns, “It is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”
Rodney W. Kennedy is a pastor and writer in New York state. He is the author of 10 books, including his latest, Good and Evil in the Garden of Democracy.