His spelling and grammar are disastrous, he contradicts himself, trails into incoherence, never sounds dignified or recognisably presidential – but none of it does him any harm. In fact, it seems to help ‘It’s all fake news, it’s phoney stuff – it didn’t happen … I think we have one of the great cabinets ever put together … Don’t be rude. Don’t be rude. Don’t. Be. Rude … I’m not going to give you a question. I’m not going to give you a question. You’re fake news.” In his first press conference, President-elect Trump was fiery, abrupt and off-the-cuff. He spoke less like a president than like a bad-tempered reality TV star with – in Lord of the Flies terms – a firm grip on the conch. Public oratory has been at the centre of the American project from the time of its founders. The framers of the constitution gave themselves classical noms de plume in their correspondence, and consciously modelled their new nation on the Roman republic. Every presidency is punctuated with set-piece speeches, and its historical turning points have been marked by historic speeches. In Donald J Trump, though, we have a presidential communicator who is quite unlike the other ducks.
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