The Trump administration has a spelling problem. Over Donald Trump’s first three weeks in the Oval Office, it’s become clear that his White House and agencies are adopting their boss’ ambivalence toward elitist orthography and embracing a more phonetic approach to the written word. It is not confined to one department or low-level staffer with a proofreading problem; it’s spread throughout the nascent administration.
Last week, the White House put out a list of 78 terrorist attacks that spelled “attacker” as “attaker” 27 times and misspelled the city of San Bernardino as “San Bernadino.” That followed the White House’s repeatedly referring to British Prime Minister Theresa May as “Teresa May“ ahead of her Washington visit.
This past weekend the U.S. Department of Education misspelled W.E.B. Du Bois, the co-founder of the NAACP, and then made a grammatical error in its tweet apologizing for the misspelling.
Even the Library of Congress — which along with the Department of Education would ostensibly care the most about proper spelling — also followed the Trump administration’s error-prone ways. In promotional copy for Trump’s official inauguration portrait, the Library had a typo in the quote: “No dream is too big, no challenge is to [sic] great. Nothing we want for the future is beyond our reach.”
The portrait is no longer for sale.
Mockery has predictably come from Democrats and journalists just as it did during the campaign when Trump himself repeatedly made elementary spelling errors. But 63 million voters decided it didn’t matter if Trump spelled “paid” as “payed“ or “dumber” as “dummer.” He’s arguably become emboldened in victory, recently spelling “unprecedented” as “unpresidented” which is a mistake that cannot be explained by autocorrect.
Such errors by Trump and the White House demonstrate haste or sloppiness, but the ensuing sneers might strengthen Trump’s populist image of him draining the Washington swamp of elite eggheads. As a result, you may need a dictionary for the next few years.