During the 2016 election cycle, Donald Trump invited Russian hackers to hack Hillary Clinton's emails and later claimed that President Obama founded ISIS. A few days later he walked back his statements after criticism, saying it was just "sarcasm". Is this the right use of "sarcasm" or "sarcastic"?

closed as primarily opinion-based by FumbleFingers, curiousdannii, Drew, Phil Sweet, ab2 Aug 12 '16 at 23:59

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    Technically it could have been sarcasm... but seeing as sarcasm (in this case) wouldn't help him out politically, I think "hyperbole" or "propaganda" is more fitting. – Othya Aug 12 '16 at 14:04

You could say it was a joke, and they are plausibly jokes (even if you don't think he was joking - personally I think they were thoughtless, bone-headed remarks which don't qualify as jokes).

But, I don't think either could be classified as sarcastic. They would only be sarcastic if he was actually trying to make the opposite point, or if he was saying something that it was obvious to everyone that he didn't believe in the slightest.

There isn't really an "opposite point" with either of them, and it's not obvious to anyone that he didn't mean it.

With the Russian hackers, for example:

Trump: "'Russia, I hope you can find Hillary's missing emails'"

For this to be sarcasm, he would have to be Mocking Russia's ability to hack Hilary's emails. Saying sarcastically "I hope you can find..." would mean that you actually know that they couldn't possibly find them, and are laughing at them for their poor intelligence. He's laughing at Russia here. Why, in the middle of an attack on Hilary, stop to take a pop at Russia's inability to hack high level US government communication? That doesn't make sense, especially since nobody really knows how good the Russians are at hacking emails. They're probably fairly state-of-the-art I suspect - perhaps not quite as good as the NSA but certainly not bad.

Similarly, if the statement that Obama founded ISIS is sarcasm, what's the intended point? Imagine someone saying sarcastically to another person, in the most sarcastic voice you can imagine, "You founded ISIS". What's the opposite of this that they're really saying? Is it "You're so noble that you would never do somethign so awful" - doesn't make sense in the context of an attack. Is it "You're so incompetent you couldn't even start a grassroots radical muslim army?" That seems pretty implausible too - it's a very odd example to choose.

So, outrageous, baseless, boneheaded: yes. Joke? Maybe. Sarcastic? No.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.