Saturday, May 13, 2017

Trump's threat against Comey is a semantic Necker Cube

Necker Cube
The Necker Cube, an ambiguous, reversible figure.

Trump’s tweet sparked a mini-storm on the web. He said “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” I picked up on that yesterday but fell victim to the semantic equivalent of a well-known perceptual illusion - the Necker Cube.

My interpretation of the Trumpian Necker Cube was “James Comey had better hope that Comey has no tapes that might be used against me …” The alternative interpretation was what raised the media fuss: “James Comey had better hope that Donald Trump does not have tapes that might be used against Comey.”

If the latter is correct, we might well conclude that Trump learned nothing from Watergate and Nixon’s tapes.

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