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US President Donald Trump speaks to the press prior to departing on Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, February 23, 2020, leaving on a 2-day trip to India. - Trump is heading to Indi... US President Donald Trump speaks to the press prior to departing on Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, February 23, 2020, leaving on a 2-day trip to India. - Trump is heading to India for his first visit there. United by mistrust of China, Trump's visit will see deals in defence and other areas, including potentially the supply of six nuclear reactors, the fruit of a landmark atomic accord in 2008.The visit will be big on optics, with Modi and Trump appearing at a rally at the world's largest cricket stadium and the US president and First Lady Melania watching the sunset at the Taj Mahal. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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February 25, 2020 10:48 a.m.

We woke up this morning to the news that President Trump is calling his purge of supposed disloyalists within the government good for America AND demanding that Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg recuse from any cases involving Trump.

It recalls the brilliant long-running episodic Slate series: “If It Happened There”

The conceit is simple: “American events are described using the tropes and tone normally employed by the American media to describe events in other countries.”  (Making the series even more salient today, the second installment back in 2013 was about the end of Michael Bloomberg’s mayoralty: “If It Happened There: Twilight of an Oligarch.” Maybe, maybe not.)

In addition to spoofing the ways and manners of American correspondents abroad, the series also indirectly mocks the too-close-to-it earnestness, caution, and dependence on euphemism that mark domestic political reporters. It’s a two-fer that slays in both directions.

We struggle at TPM with the language choices, too. We don’t have collectively have the vocabulary or the willingness to deploy it to capture what we’re witnessing with Trump.

So what would the headlines be if this were happening abroad, especially in Africa or South America?

Have at it in the TPM tip line (talk at talkingpointsmemo dot com).

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