The Associated Press is kidding about this, right? They have to be kidding. Don’t they?
President Donald Trump and his supporters have a new buzz phrase to diagnose his critics: “Trump Derangement Syndrome.”
The term is supposed to describe voters who are so angry and opposed to the U.S. president that they are incapable of seeing any good in what he does. “TDS” has popped up on Fox News in recent weeks and was cited by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in interviews this week before being used by the president himself on Twitter on Wednesday.
His tweet: “Some people HATE the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia. They would rather go to war than see this. It’s called Trump Derangement Syndrome!”
It’s the latest linguistics salvo by a president who fundamentally altered the definition of “fake news” and tries to discredit opponents of his administration by pointing to the most extreme critiques.
To give the Associated Press some credit, they acknowledge the etymological roots of “TDS,” which originated with the late Charles Krauthammer. He wrote a spirited column condemning what he called “Bush Derangement Syndrome” in 2003. A few years later, supporters of Barack Obama modified it into ODS, and not without some justification (regarding the Birthers in particular). Derangement is a permanent fixture in politics on the extremes, which makes this a fairly easy label to modify and redeploy.
It’s so easy, in fact, that the latest TDS version has been deployed for almost three years. In fact, it was in wide enough circulation that the Big Dog in conservative media trotted it out himself in November 2015, not even for the first time. Note too that Rush Limbaugh applied this diagnosis to both sides of the aisle (note: this Rush link no longer active):
RUSH: Holy cow, folks. Trump Derangement Syndrome is spreading. Trump Derangement Syndrome is everywhere. It literally is everywhere. Well, we’re not deranged here because we don’t get deranged about anything, but, I mean, the Drive-Bys, the Democrats, many in the Republican Party are just beside themselves now. They don’t know what to do.
Three months previous to this in August 2015, Rush himself credited Esther Goldberg for a column titled “Trump Derangement Syndrome” at the American Spectator. At the time, Goldberg applied the term against “Ruling Class Republicans” almost exclusively. Her very first target for the term? Jennifer Rubin, natch, but George Will gets prominent mention as well.
At any rate, Rush has been using the phrase ever since, and it has been long in use on the Right as an accusation thrown at #NeverTrumpers, Democrats, and “drive-by media.” With the Right’s biggest megaphone popularizing the phrase since mid-2015 and its widespread use by Trump supporters ever since, how is it that it’s only now coming to the attention of the AP’s political editors? Are they that out of touch with the Right that they only noticed the phrase for the first time when Trump tweeted it? Come on, man. Even Salon had caught up to it by January of this year. When you’re six months slower than Salon on conservative culture …
Perhaps they might want to work on that. They could spend a little time familiarizing themselves with those political circles and engaging with Trump supporters, at the very least to catch up on the lingo. Or they could work undercover, which might look something like … this. “How do you do, fellow deplorables?”