For four years I read transcripts of President Trump’s speeches at WhiteHouse.gov. Plucked the important ones from there, to print in Vital Speeches.
Along the way, I picked up the predilections of the Trump transcribers. Though they were assiduous about noting the slightest chuckle or smattering of applause the president received, even mid-sentence—[LAUGHTER]—Trump’s mispronunciations were scrubbed and sometimes whole sentences were fixed, in arrears.
In the spirit of the press secretary for the catfish-tongued Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, who once admonished reporters to “report what he meant, not what he said!”
President Biden’s White House, if anything, errs almost comically on the side of over-accuracy, recording and correcting the president’s every oral stumble. A few graphs from Biden’s speech last week, on Afghanistan:
Over the past 20 years, the threat has become more dispersed, metastasizing around the globe: al-Shabaab in Somalia; al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; al-Nusra in Syria; ISIS attempting to create a
califit[caliphate] in Syria and Iraq …
Section sisty [sic] — Section 60 is where our recent war dead are buried ….
As of the day — today, there are two hundred and forty- —
2,488[2,448] U.S. troops and personnel who have died in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel — our Afghanistan conflicts.
Is this an overcompensation? Yes, and for the editor of Vital Speeches, it’s a pain in my ass, as I have to edit out all those mincing little notations, because no historian is going to care that Biden said “sisty” instead of “sixty,” 60 years from now.
But after four years of rhetorical exaggeration, gassing on, preening, impulsive inflation, flat-out lying and linguistic lily-gilding to the point of near auto-erotic asphyxiation at the podium [RISING APPLAUSE] I’ll gladly suffer a little pusillanimous, prissy, Puritanical pedantry. [STANDING OVATION]