The reptilian complex of the brain directs instinctual responses such as “aggression, dominance, territoriality, and ritual displays,” all of which seem to loom large in GOP political life. In the Harry Potter series, Parseltongue, the language of snakes, is a genetic attribute of dark (evil) wizards. Those with the inborn skill can, according to the Harry Potter Wiki, “influence the will of serpents.” Can you think of a better analogy to GOPer’s use of code-words and dogwhistles to influence the reptillian brain of their base?
You’d think that the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, would be a master of GOP Parseltongue already. But you’d be wrong. His expressions of dominance, aggression, etc. are loud and clear and, consequently, open to hostile scrutiny. He broadcasts messages that Republican sages are sure should be hissed only in the direction of initiates lest it repel the milder, less partisan, voters required to win a national election.
Since it’s likely that Trump can’t be traded in for a more fluent model at the Republican nominating convention, the powers-that-be in the Republican Party think that he needs a crash course in the GOP version of Parseltongue. Who can carry out the task of educating Trump the man-baby, as Jon Stewart dubbed him, so that he can assume an adult role in the political world? Why, none other than Missouri’s Republican Senator, Roy Blunt, who is among the few Republicans currently willing to support Trump:
Sen. Roy Blunt will be among Republican congressional leaders meeting with presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump on Thursday, and in that meeting Blunt plans to caution Trump on the campaign language he uses, a Blunt aide said Wednesday.
“Senator Blunt will use the opportunity to remind Donald Trump that what we say and how we say it matter in making it clear that our common goal is defeating Hillary Clinton and guiding America in a new direction,” Blunt’s communications director, Brian Hart, told the Post-Dispatch.
Presumably, Trump needs to learn a few of the GOP Parseltongue faves. One does not speak of cutting the taxes of the wealthy, but calls it instead “creating jobs.” Government does not protect consumers and the safety of its citizens, but rather imposes “job killing regulations.” Republicans do not restrict reproductive health decisions; they “protect” women from the consequences of their own decisions. They do not prioritize undeveloped fetal life over adult females, they protect “unborn children.”
Nowhere is GOP Parseltongue more important than in the area of ethnic and racial relations where Trump’s brutal language has won loud approval from extremist groups like the KKK. Will Blunt will try to convince him not to label Mexicans rapists, but rather confine himself to talk about “law and order” along the border? Will he point out that Trump should eschew mention of “lazy blacks,” although discussion of an “inner-city culture in which generations of people don’t value work” is just tickety-boo.
Will a little tutoring from a bunkum artist like Senator Blunt or other forked-tongue GOPers do the trick? Is Republican Parseltongue all that Trump needs to make a good presidential candidate? As the Harry Potter Wiki notes, “when the wizarding world discovered Harry’s ability to speak Parseltongue, […] people began to doubt his words.” There is, after all, a good argument that can be made to support the contention that Trump’s harsh rhetoric appeals to the GOP base precisely because it no longer trusts politicians who ooze bland drivel from both sides of the mouth. They seem to want the hardcore spew that leaves the rest of us feeling sickish and in need of a good scrubbing.
Update: Greg Sargent in Wapo’s The Plum Line has lots of suggestions about how Trump can “sand down his positions with rhetorical slipperiness like this, in service of making GOP unity more likely.”