The Art of the Linguistic Kill Shot


I am writing a post that I hope will start a meme and crowd sourced effort to turn our president’s famous weapon on himself. It’s the “linguistic kill shot.”

Trump has perfected the art of name calling. He always seems to come up with the perfect words to neutralize opponents. They reduce people to cartoon labels, making them seem weak, ineffectual, liddle (as in Corker), or crooked (as in Hillary).

I thought of this while watching Dilbert creator Scott Adams on CNN. Host Michael Smerconish interviewed the cartoonist about his new book “Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter.”

(Update: The Smerconsih video is no longer available, so I replaced it with Jake Tapper’s interview of Scott Adams).

Adams (who is also a trained hypnotist and persuasion expert) predicted a Trump victory before others, back in August 2015. He said in the CNN interview: “[Trump] has the full arsenal of persuasion like I’ve never seen – probably the strongest ‘talent stack’.”

The host presented the following Trump tweet as one that Adams called a “persuasion gem:”

(Folks, I needed to hold my nose, grab forceps and go to Trump’s actual Twitter feed to get the embed code – I am not complaining, but just wanted you to know the dedication I have to this blog and my readers).

Here’s why (see the YouTube video for the full interview):

Adams said that to persuade you need to “move people’s attention and energy where you want it… and away from something you don’t want people to talk about. He has a technique of having just enough wrongness to grab your energy and put it where he wants it.”

Smerconish asked if Trump is vulnerable to a linguistic kill shot, and if so, what would it be? They kicked a couple of ideas around, but none seemed to work:

  • Dangerous Donald (he was elected to be dangerous and disrupt the status quo)
  • Cheetos Jesus (funny imagery but people love Cheetos and Jesus)

And we need a good one right now. Because nothing seems to stick to the Teflon Don (hey, maybe there’s one right there – but it’s been used before).

Let me suggest a few to get your creative juices floating; and I’d love to hear from readers and if you can share this on social and start a meme.

  • Duplicitous Don
  • Snake Oil Don
  • Huckster Trump
  • Lying Don
  • Don the Deceiver
  • Small hands (not catchy but gets under his skin, clearly)
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2 Responses to The Art of the Linguistic Kill Shot

  1. Paul Geller says:

    Interesting post, Robert. I had already contemplated this and came up with Dodger Don, or Draft Dodger Don, or just Dodgy Don. It seems really brazen to me that he acts so tough on the military, insults McCain for his unbelievably sacrificial service, and loudly calls for the execution of Bo Bergdahl (sketchy, sure, but he was serving in Afghanistan), while Trump got multiple deferments, including for bone spurs, while he continued to engage in college sports and chase women.

    I would think this would be innately offensive to most people – especially in his base, but no one seems to be able to stick it to him.

    So I would propose that forever more this is the only way we refer to him. Dodgy Don.

  2. rgeller says:

    Thanks Paul! I like Dodgy Don. My friend Judy Gombita suggested “Don Deranged”

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