Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump points to an airplane passing overhead at a town hall-style campaign event at the former Osram Sylvania light bulb factory, June 30, 2016, in Manchester, N.H.
Photo by Robert F. Bukaty/AP

Urged to ‘aim higher,’ Trump struggles with the metaphor

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) offered a bit of a mixed message yesterday. Asked about Donald Trump’s racist comments about four Democratic congresswomen, the Republican senator piled on, calling the president’s targets anti-American communists.

But in the same Fox News interview, Graham also offered his friend in the Oval Office some more responsible advice. “Aim higher,” the South Carolinian said. “They are American citizens. They won an election. Take on their policies.”

A reporter asked Trump yesterday about Graham’s recommendation. The president said he “disagrees” with the GOP senator and tried to explain why.

“These are congresswomen. What am I supposed to do? Just wait for senators? No. These are four – so I disagree with Lindsey on that. That was the only thing.

“He said, ‘Aim higher. Shoot higher.’ What am I going to do? Wait until we get somebody else in a higher position? A higher office? These are people that hate our country.”

In other words, when Graham urged the president to “aim higher,” Trump literally didn’t understand the advice. By his own admission, Trump thought the recommendation to strive for a more mature rhetorical tone was actually advice about targeting higher-ranking critics.

This rather basic metaphor was lost on the president – and it wasn’t the first time he’s struggled with a simple figure of speech.

During a 2017 interview with CBS’s John Dickerson, the anchor told Trump, “George W. Bush said the reason the Oval Office is round is there are no corners you can hide in.” Trump replied, “Well, there’s truth to that. There’s truth to that. There are certainly no corners. And you look there’s a certain openness but [pointing at the windows] there’s nobody out there.”

No one has ever confused George W. Bush with a scholar of the English language, but in this case, he used a metaphor that Trump seemed unable to understand. Is it any wonder the Republican was equally confused by, “Aim higher”?

Watching Trump yesterday, I was reminded of “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the scene in which Rocket said of Drax, “Metaphors are going to go over his head.”

To which Drax replied, “Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast. I would catch it.”