Ivanka Trump — the would-be conscience of the Trump family — is appalled at the treatment of immigrant families. In an Axios forum she said the following:

“That was a low point for me as well. I feel very strongly about that, and I am very vehemently against family separation and the separation of parents and children.”

Let’s pull that apart. We’ll start with the “me”. The subject of the conversation had been immigrant families and their treatment. But as soon as a Trump latches on to something the consideration shifts to how the thing effects them. She could have said it was a low point for the country, or for every decent American, or anyone who believed in the parent/child bond. But no, it was Ivanka’s low point.

You might think I’m being harsh or even unfair. And I grant you, if that was all she said, you would have a point. But it wasn’t. In the very next sentence, she gets in two ‘I’s.

And if you need more, Ivanka also offered this:

“I think immigration is incredibly complex as a topic, illegal immigration is incredibly complicated. I am a daughter of an immigrant, my mother [Ivana Trump] grew up in Communist Czech Republic, but we are a country of laws. She came to this country legally.” 

Once again she makes it about her. And she conveniently omits her mother’s marriage at 22 to Austrian Alfred Winklmayr. This so-called ‘Cold War Marriage’ — it was never consummated — netted Ivana an Austrian passport. When you want to get out of a shithole, you do what you have to — no?

But enough about that, let’s return to the original quote and look at her use of intensifiers. There are two ‘very’s. Very is almost useless and it plays no role when paired with words like ‘strongly’ and ‘vehemently’. What is the difference between ‘vehemently’ and ‘very vehemently’?

The use of intensifiers often points to insincerity. The speaker wants to say the ‘right thing’ so she throws in extra adverbs to act as clubs to convince the audience of her commitment to the cause. But the extra adverb makes the case weaker.

Consider the difference between “Damn, she’s fast” and “Damn, she’s very fast”. The difference may not be large, but the first version says everything, while the second is clunky. It’s like a t-shirt. Plain ‘t’s are just that — unpretentious. But a bedazzled ‘t’ almost invariably looks cheap and overdone.

Language, like clothes, is usually better unadorned. So keep it simple unless you are Charles Dickens or Robert Cavalli.

Further evidencing Ivanka’a need to convince the listener of her sincerity is that she says things twice. She both feels “very strongly” and is “vehemently opposed” to both “ family separation” and “the separation of parents and children”. 

In the second example, immigration and the law get a good work out. Immigration is both “incredibly complex” and “incredibly complicated” — and neither “incredibly” adds anything.

Bearing all of this in mind, what happens if we remove ego, intensifiers, and repetition from her first offering? We would be left with something like this:

”That was a low point for the country. The separation of children from their parents is cruel and unAmerican.”

I think that’s says it all.


Is Mar-a-Lago a Shithole?

January 13, 2018

Trump talks about his love for the American worker, but meanwhile, he hires foreign laborers as seasonal employees for Mar-a-Lago. Last July, the Trump organization requested permission to hire 70 non-Americans for the upcoming season. He justifies this hypocrisy by claiming that he can’t find any Americans to fill the position. It will come as no surprise […]

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DACA Divides Republicans. Even Trump Is Waffling.

September 6, 2017

Marco Rubio doesn’t want to craft a DACA bill unless he knows whether Donald Trump will sign it or not. More, he wants Trump to provide guidance.  That isn’t the way government is supposed to work. Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution – the very first sentence – tells Congresspeople to get off their ass: “All […]

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Even if Trump Won There Would Be No Wall.

October 24, 2016

White nationalists salivate over the prospect of a Trump win. They believe that he will deal with the ‘problem’ of immigration. He will rid the country of raping Mexicans and peace will descend across white America. I don’t know what happens to non-white American citizens in this fantasy. Not that it matters – the wall is a […]

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Whites Won’t Go Gentle into that Good Night.

June 1, 2016

“Whites saying “make America white again” is like millionaires saying “make the wealthy rich again.” ― DaShanne Stokes The standout feature of Election 2016 is the blatant racism. The last hurrah of white nationalism. Eight years of a black President has set hair on fire, boiled blood, spit-flecked lips, and purpled faces. And in their hearts […]

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Mr. Trump Proposes His Dream Wall.

April 6, 2016

“The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.” ― H.L. Mencken On the first day of his campaign, Donald Trump – self-described non-politician – promised to build a border wall and get Mexico to pay for it. It has become a mantra. His fans […]

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Really? – 8.18.15 Deportation follies; the EPA pollutes a river; Trump unintentionally encourages more immigration.

August 18, 2015

The GOP’s deportation fantasy. On immigration, the Republicans play a duplicitous game. On the one hand, extravagant promises of mass deportations and shiny new border walls – now paid for by Mexico – rile the base straight to the ballot box. On the other hand, business conservatives – from the US Chamber of Commerce on […]

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The Lesson of the GOP Base’s Embrace of Donald Trump.

July 17, 2015

“Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious” ― Oscar Wilde The most unsettling thing about Donald Trump is not Donald Trump. The man may be a world class mouth – spouting racist paranoia or cynically trumpeting an issue he calculates will resonate with the base. And he has tapped a wellspring of deep fear and […]

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Donald Trump: The Dark Side of Bombast.

June 20, 2015

“Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate” – Bertrand Russell There was a time in the 1980s when Donald Trump epitomized the big talking, swagger of the New York […]

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