HE HAS THE BEST WORDS. Jonah Goldberg lays out the case that Trump's way of communicating as a candidate is inadequate for a president:
What’s the trick? All you have to do is take Trump seriously, but not literally.
The formulation is credited to reporter Salena Zito, who, in an article for The Atlantic last September, noted that the news media take Trump’s more outlandish statements literally but not seriously, while his supporters do the inverse.***************************
The non-literal approach to Biden is safe for two reasons. Because he is a well-known character in the Washington establishment, the public knows more or less what to expect from him. And, as a vice president, there’s only so much harm he can do. (In other words, we don’t have to take him too seriously.)
Trump is different. On his own terms he’s an outsider and a “disrupter” who claims that political elites range from stupid to malevolent. He also has zero experience in foreign or domestic policy. What he says — and how he says it — takes on greater importance precisely because he lacks a track record in public office to put his language in context.
This seriously-not-literally thing is a great analytical insight into how then-candidate Trump communicated with his supporters. But it is fairly ridiculous hogwash as a prescription for how to treat an actual president, or president-elect, of the United States.