Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Please don't let Trump's "good"/"go ahead" turn into the next "yanny"/"laurel"

Illustration for article titled Please don't let Trump's "good"/"go ahead" turn into the next "yanny"/"laurel"
Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Good news, folks: We’ve got this massive, unkillable headache pounding its way all up and down our skulls right now, which means we must have just exposed ourselves to the American political process in the form of yet another 2020 presidential debate. And, indeed, that was how we decided—of our own, extremely stupid free wills—to spend 90 minutes of our lives, observing a relatively more-sedate Donald Trump spew a slightly less high-volume stream of bullshit and viral loads all over his opponent, Joe Biden. The debate is being heralded as a triumph of civility by observers, many of whom were begrudgingly impressed to see Trump behave like merely a shitty person, and not like a rabid dog who’s seen another dog that might try to take his rabies from him.


There was one moment, though, that seemed to catch people’s ire on Twitter, the abandoned and garbage-strewn dumping ground for America’s collective election anxieties. It was the point where, during the immigration section of the bickering, Biden brought up the 525 children separated from their parents due to Trump’s immigration policies, whose parents have not been found. (Trump, of course, crowed that the kids he’s forcibly detained are getting excellent care, which, even if true, would still be a pretty crappy thing to brag about.) Biden repeated the point a few times, and on the last, Trump appeared to respond to the statement with a heartfelt, well… Let’s try to transcribe it: ”Goooeaad”?

Because Trump has such a long and storied career of saying the quiet part loud, many people interpreted this particular batch of slurred speech as “good,” i.e., “it’s good that I have detained these children and cannot find their parents, who I also have or would like to detain.” But it does appear, when re-listening, that Trump was actually addressing debate moderator Kristen Welker, telling her “Go ahead,” as in “Go ahead with the next bit of this shitshow.” If you listen closely (sorry) and watch Trump’s lips (really, really sorry), there does appear to be a distinctive “h” sound in there for “ahead,” and he’s pretty clearly looking at Welker when he said it.

And hey: We get that this does not, on any meaningful level, matter. Donald Trump is the guy who locked up those kids regardless, and he’s proven himself to be a cruel, dog-whistling bully on so many occasions that we’re shocked he hasn’t had tiki torches installed in the White House Rose Garden. But among its many other deficits, Trump’s time in office has been extremely shitty for our shared sense of reality, and we’d just hate for that to take another step into wiki-reality. That is, we really can’t afford to let the actual words of an actual head of state transform into the next “yanny”/”laurel.” Donald Trump says regressive, racist, awful, infuriating things daily, often in print. We don’t need to help him get even more shit on the record.

Remember to make your voting plan ASAP.