Competition: diasyrms for Trump

Damning with faint praise, Donald Trump edition.

Donald Trump said this about Ben Carson, a rival for the Republican nomination :

He was a doctor, perhaps an OK doctor, by the way.

The trope usually goes by Pope’s phrase “damning with faint praise”, but I’m sure RBC readers do not need reminding that its technical Greek name in rhetoric is diasyrm.

The put-down is feeble. You can’t take away from Dr. Ben Carson his outstanding medical qualifications and stellar career. He headed the department of paediatric neurosurgery at the teaching hospital of Johns Hopkins, which likes to think of itself as the best medical school in the world, possibly with reason. It is a great tragedy that in his very last operation in Baltimore before leaving medicine for politics, Dr. Carson heroically donated to his patient half the grey cells in his cerebral cortex.

It is Donald Trump‘s pathological vanity – he is in textbooks  as an example of narcissism – that makes him far more vulnerable to diasyrm. Readers are invited to supply examples. To get you going, a better jibe from Lloyd George:

[Neville Chamberlain] would make a good Lord Mayor of Birmingham in a lean year.

My suggestions:

  • Donald Trump has demonstrated far greater acumen as an investor than Bernie Madoff.
  • Donald Trump is magnetically attractive to women, for six months.
  • Trump’s dramatic hairdo would assure him a future as a hairstyling model for the leading trade magazine in North Korea.
  • Trump regularly demonstrates his superior people-management skills in firing no-hopers on reality TV shows.
  • Donald has never, ever had sex with a pig.

Entrants please remember the praise part. Straight insults do not count, however ingenious and deserved. Example: at Oxford, I once heard the young Quentin Hogg described as “a shining wit, as Dr. Spooner might have said”.




Author: James Wimberley

James Wimberley (b. 1946, an Englishman raised in the Channel Islands. three adult children) is a former career international bureaucrat with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. His main achievements there were the Lisbon Convention on recognition of qualifications and the Kosovo law on school education. He retired in 2006 to a little white house in Andalucia, His first wife Patricia Morris died in 2009 after a long illness. He remarried in 2011. to the former Brazilian TV actress Lu Mendonça. The cat overlords are now three. I suppose I've been invited to join real scholars on the list because my skills, acquired in a decade of technical assistance work in eastern Europe, include being able to ask faux-naïf questions like the exotic Persians and Chinese of eighteenth-century philosophical fiction. So I'm quite comfortable in the role of country-cousin blogger with a European perspective. The other specialised skill I learnt was making toasts with a moral in the course of drunken Caucasian banquets. I'm open to expenses-paid offers to retell Noah the great Armenian and Columbus, the orange, and university reform in Georgia. James Wimberley's occasional publications on the web

20 thoughts on “Competition: diasyrms for Trump”

  1. Other than the phrontistery website you link to, and others that seem to derive from it or from a common source, I can't find much support for your definition of diasyrm>, which the OED defines as (merely) " A figure of rhetoric expressing disparagement or ridicule."

    As to Donald Trump, he has demonstrated a remarkable talent for preening egotism.

    1. Your example shows that it's quite difficult to mount an effective rhetorical attack by ridicule any other way. My Spoonerism example is clever but a one-off. If you insist, let's split the label into "Popish diasyrms" and "non-Popish diasyrms".

  2. Trump will bring to the White House a strong counterbalance to the emotional austerity measures of the Obama years.

  3. If onanism counts, I don't think you can say that Trump has never had sex with a pig.

    Donald Trump is not the looniest contestant for the Republican nomination.

  4. Trump has an uncanny mastery of the law, especially the bankruptcy code.

    Trump's investment record is almost as good as that of a monkey throwing darts at the stock pages.

  5. has been a bold and tireless pioneer in the field of blog comments sections with no preview function, causing well-meaning but hapless commenters to post comments with un-closed italic tags. (See my comment above!)

    1. I would have fixed this for you free as part of the outstanding value-for-money service the RBC offers its commenters, but since doing this would remove the point of your second comment, I judged it better not to do so. I agonized over this decision for all of five seconds.

  6. Obama already won this competition 4 years ago at the WH Correspondents dinner. Referring to Celebrity Apprentice, he said “These are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night.” (And the real sting came when we found out the next day what was keeping him up at night.)

  7. If Bobby Jones* were alive today, Donald Trump could beat him on any golf course in the world.
    (* Jones was born in 1902 and would be 113)

    Thanks to all for your responses.

  8. Donald Trump has been able to demonstrate some of the shortcomings of the Reagan presidency to many Republicans.

  9. Day late and a dollar short, but I'll give it a try: Donald Trump has one heck of a head of hair. And, under that, a brain to match.

  10. The blogger gets the last word. I'll give it one last try:

    Donald Trump is more honest than FIFA.
    Trump is a man of his word, when he can remember which one.
    He is almost as good at one-line putdowns as the RBC.

    None of us came up with anything to match Lloyd George, though we handily beat Trump himself. The best joke was snideissue's onanism jibe, which fell outside the rules.

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