Of all the words President Donald Trump could have flubbed in his harangue railing against “far-left fascism” at Mount Rushmore, “totalitarianism” was the perfect stumble, critics jabbed on Twitter Saturday.
Trump, as he does when he’s muddled about pronunciation, seemed to fade out mid-word in his speech Friday evening, but appeared to say something like “toe-tally-tario-tism.” (He also mispronounced “Ulysses S. Grant” as “Ulysse-us.”)
Trump slashed anti-racism protests across the nation, characterizing activists as a “violent” mob ― an inaccurate characterization of the mostly peaceful demonstrations ― and vowing to take action against them, In the process he echoed words used by totalitarian regimes against protesters, making it all-the-more rich that he mispronounced totalitarianism.
The Lincoln Project, created by never-Trump Republicans who have emerged as among his wittiest and sharp-edged critics, played a clip of the president mangling the word — then followed up with a photo of him saluting a military official of North Korea.
Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, also noted the word stumble. Even more troubling, he emphasized, is that “Trump has no idea what words like fascism and totalitarianism mean.”
He called Trump’s address “perhaps the most un-American speech ever delivered by an American president & on the July 4th weekend no less.” McFaul said his “only solace” is that the “degree of craziness” of the speech is “probably best explained by Trump’s current level of desperation.”
It was off to the races for the rest of critics on Twitter.
Some also took note that Trump — who is fond of dictating what people do during the national anthem — should not have saluted because he is not a military veteran. He obtained five draft deferments, including one for bone spurs, during the Vietnam War. Members of the military and veterans salute; the proper etiquette for civilians is to hold their right hand over their heart during the anthem.
For something completely different, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, issued his own message for July Fourth, urging everyone to “fight every day to make sure” that the American Dream is “as true for a Black child born in Minneapolis as it was for a white bodybuilder born in Austria.”
It was retweeted by The Lincoln Project.