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On Not Saying His Name

By Elizabeth Limbach at The Atlantic.

Why have many of the president’s critics taken to talking about him without using the words “Donald Trump”?

Last fall, after America learned about a videotape featuring the Republican presidential candidate bragging about groping women, Michelle Obama delivered a fiery speech in Manchester, New Hampshire, seemingly condemning his behavior. “This wasn’t just locker-room banter,” Obama said from behind a podium while campaigning for Hillary Clinton and her running mate Tim Kaine. “This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior … And to make matters worse, it now seems very clear that this isn’t an isolated incident. It’s one of countless examples of how he has treated women his whole life.”

The pointed takedown became one of the most memorable moments in a memorable election cycle. But of the 3,309 words the First Lady spoke, “Donald” and “Trump” were not among them. Trump’s name was also notably missing from many of her husband’s speeches on the campaign trail for Clinton. When the late Gwen Ifill asked President Barack Obama why he had been avoiding saying “Trump,” he replied, “He seems to do a good job mentioning his own name. So, I figure, you know, I will let him do his advertising for him[self].”

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