Simplifiers v. Complicators
Opinion – Boston Globe
– Niall Ferguson
In a memorable phrase, the great historian Jacob Burckhardt warned against “terribles simplificateurs.” But there are also such things as terrible complicators. Last Monday night we saw the first of three showdowns between a terrible complicator — Hillary Clinton — and a terrible simplifier — Donald Trump. The first question of the night was on the economy. Clinton’s reply was a laundry list of wonkish bullet points. Trump’s was to yell repeatedly that the North American Free Trade Agreement was “the worst trade deal ever.”
Trump, by contrast, slid haplessly into complexity. On his income tax returns he was slippery. On his five-year quest to prove President Obama was born abroad, he was convoluted. By the time we got to his 10-year-old son’s insights into cybersecurity, he was barely intelligible. At one point, Trump even used the word “braggadocious”— a word so complicated that the publisher of the Merriam-Webster dictionary had to issue a statement explaining it. When you start using five-syllable adjectives derived from Spenser’s “Faerie Queene,” you’ve stopped telling it like it is.