Elizabeth Dimcock, the head speechwriter for Donald Trump, has spent the last week agonizing over whether “idiot” or “dummy” is a better word for the presidential candidate to use to slander opponents in an upcoming rally.
On the one hand, the word “idiot” conveys a certain eloquence and timelessness, Dimcock says, having existed in some form from Roman times until the publication of Dostoevsky’s eponymous 19th century masterpiece.
“Calling a fellow candidate an ‘idiot’ elevates the discourse, rhetorically taking the fight from the school playground into an Oxford debate hall,” she said. “It would flatter everyone in the audience as being literary and cultured.”
On the other hand, the word “dummy” contains populist appeal, and it’s just the sort of unpretentious, matter-of-fact slur to which rural voters can relate, she says.
“The thing is, in case a video of the speech gets out, we don’t want [Trump] sounding like some overeducated, bookish type,” she said. “Having him repeatedly call Jeb Bush a ‘dummy’ would show that Donald Trump is a man of the people.”
Over the last week, during which Dimcock claims to have been unable to sleep, she has also given careful consideration to the words moron, fuckwit, chowderhead and retard, but has rejected them all on the grounds they sound too juvenile.
“I cannot decide, maybe I should quit,” said Dimcock, who in 2007 earned a master’s degree in English from Vassar. “Maybe Donald was right. Maybe I am stupid.”