“I’m tired of talking about Trump,” President Joe Biden said at a CNN town hall meeting in Milwaukee on February 16. “You had the former guy saying that, ‘Well, you know, we’re just going to open things up and that’s all we need to do.’ We said no, you’ve got to deal with the disease before you deal with getting the economy going.”
“The former guy”—not “my predecessor,” not “the 45th president”—is the sort of expression we’ve come to expect from the current guy. Joe Biden is the guy, after all, who’s known for chump and malarkey and C’mon, man, and this is a big fucking deal—folksy, no-BS Joe from Scranton, PA. The former guy: as though he couldn’t be troubled to dredge up the name.
Within 24 hours, New York Times columnist Gail Collins had seized on the dismissive epithet. “I’ve got to say I loved it when Joe Biden described Donald Trump as ‘the former guy,’” she wrote on February 17:
This was at a CNN town hall, and Biden was pursuing his goal of changing the subject from … his predecessor. Part of the strategy seems to be avoiding his actual name.
Excellent agenda. Sitting in disgraced, double-impeached political purgatory, Trump has been trying to retrain the world to refer to him as “the 45th president” during his unwelcome retirement. (If you are lucky enough to get a mass email from him, the return address will be “45 office.”) How cool would it be if he had to sit in front of the TV listening to people talk about “the former guy?”
D.J.T. = T.F.G.