Donald Trump’s supporters like to say that the reason why they like him is that “He says what he thinks”. No dissembling; no niceties; no strategic weasel words; just the plain, unvarnished Trump.
That phrase, “he says what he thinks”, always makes me think of a passage from one of Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey novels.
At one point in the novel Clouds of Witness, Lord Peter has learned that a possible suspect in the murder he’s investigating, a man named Goyles, was once engaged to his sister, Mary. Their eldest brother and head of the family, Gerald, had forced her to break the relationship off. Peter had been fighting in The War at the time and had missed out on the family drama.
“I suppose they told you about it — and put everything in the worst possible light,” Mary says.
“I wouldn’t say that, dear,” their mother, the Duchess, interrupts. “I think I told Peter that your brother and I were not altogether pleased with what we had seen of the young man — which was not very much, if you remember.” She recalls an incident when the young man had visited for the weekend uninvited, and had been terribly rude to one of their other guests.
“He said what he thought,” Mary says staunchly. “Of course, Lord Mountweazle, poor dear, doesn’t understand that the present generation is accustomed to discuss things with its elders, not just kow-tow to them. When George gave his opinion, he thought he was just contradicting.”
“To be sure,” the Duchess concedes, “when you flatly deny everything a person says it does sound like contradiction to the uninitiated. But all I remember saying to Peter was that Mr. Goyles manners seemed to me to lack polish, and that he showed a lack of independence in his opinions.”
“Well, anyway,” Mary continues, “… Perhaps you didn’t say much about him, mother, but Gerald said lots — dreadful things!”
“Yes,” said the Duchess, “he said what he thought. The present generation does, you know. To the uninitiated, I admit, dear, it does sound a little rude.”