In our current age of foolishness, things are "incredible," "thriving," "booming," "prospering," "tremendous," "very much happy" - the "greatest," "best" and "most."

It is also a "disaster," a "mess," "disintegrating," "really bad," "even worse" than the "worst," "ridiculous," "nasty" and "fake"- with "abuses," a "lot of problems" and in a "spiral down."

All of the above thoughts were proclaimed by President Trump within the span of a few minutes this last week. So extreme is his rhetoric that even an attempt to portray himself as calm devolved into hysterical hyperbole.

"I was so calm," he said. "I was extremely calm. ... Kellyanne, what was my temperament?"

"Very calm," aide Kelly

anne Conway replied. "You were very calm," aide Mercedes Schlapp assured him. Aide Larry Kudlow concurred: "You were very calm."

"So I was very calm," he said.

"Very calm," spokeswoman Sarah Sanders echoed.

"Couldn't have been more calm," Trump summarized. "We had this instance at least once before where I was very, very calm. ... So I was extremely calm, very much like I am right now."

Totally! There has never, ever been a person as utterly, astonishingly and overwhelmingly calm as Trump.

We have by now become accustomed to such extreme emotion - both hot and cold - from the president. Routine though it is for him, it is not normal. Now we know exactly how abnormal it is.

I asked, a data analytics company that analyzes language with artificial intelligence, to do a sentiment analysis of Trump's speech compared to that of his predecessors.'s Bill Frischling had his computers sift through millions of words uttered by presidents back to Herbert Hoover and compute the intensity of each one's average positive comment and average negative comment.

The presidents were in a tight band. With +1.0 being the most favorable possible statement, their positive statements averaged from +0.22 to +0.33. With -1.0 being the most adverse possible statement, their negative statements averaged from -0.19 to -0.27.

And then there was Trump. His average positive statement: +0.64 (+0.66 on Twitter). His average negative statement: -0.53 (-0.61 on Twitter). He is literally twice as extreme as all predecessors over the past century.

And it's not just presidents. Trump's rhetoric is also about twice as extreme as the most extreme members of the last Congress (-0.31, +0.36).

But if Trump is without peer in the American political tradition, he unfortunately has equals in another tradition. Such rhetoric is a hallmark of totalitarianism.

"It's using emotion to circumvent reason, to overwhelm reason," says Jason Stanley, a Yale philosopher specializing in language and author of the book "How Fascism Works."

Trump isn't necessarily fascist, but his language is. "Goebbels talks about propaganda being best when it appeals to straightforward emotion: fear, suspicion, anger, and then it would be culminated with 'we're winning,' 'we're going to get them,'" Stanley says. "When our emotions are being overwhelmed it's because people are trying to manipulate us and drive us toward a desired goal."

The evidence that not a single member of Congress comes close to Trump's rhetorical excess raises hope that this will pass. The best opponents can do until then is to cling to truth. Emotion can only overwhelm reason for so long.

Dana Milbank is a syndicated columnist. You can follow him on Twitter, @Milbank.


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