The Trump Glossary

Gish Galloping, Shkreling, Meefing, Cookie-Grubbing, and more of Trump's go-to rhetorical moves

Donald Trump dabbled in a lot of Meflection during the debate.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Monday night offered a case study in the sobering benefits of a presidential debate. Speculation about the two candidates' performances had reached fever pitch, with journalists and voters wondering just what kind of reality TV spectacle this would turn out to be. My expectation that Donald Trump would outperform Hillary Clinton given his long experience in the medium — despite his lack of preparation — was badly upset. Instead, Clinton's unflappable calm cast Trump's choleric demeanor into sharp relief.

I've called for a taxonomy of Trump's rhetorical moves so that we, the electorate, might better understand him and the effects he produces. The debate was instructive. We learned, among other things, that some of Trump's campaign strategies don't work in this new one-on-one context — there was little in the way of Prince Georging or Gobbing (two early entries in my initial glossary of Trump behaviors). This wasn't the right audience for either. But there were several other techniques on display worth labeling so that we can better understand how they work (and accurately name them while they're happening).

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Lili Loofbourow

Lili Loofbourow is the culture critic at She's also a special correspondent for the Los Angeles Review of Books and an editor for Beyond Criticism, a Bloomsbury Academic series dedicated to formally experimental criticism. Her writing has appeared in a variety of venues including The Guardian, Salon, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Slate.