But he has so far resisted many binding efforts to create a more conventional order around him, encouraging aides who color outside the lines on television, maintaining walk-in power for each of his senior staff members and starting each morning with a tweetstorm that often upends the news cycle in unexpected ways. Bottle up the disruptive methods and Trump fears he could lose the magic that made him President.

I'm not sure what the bold part means, especially the phrase "Bottle up the disruptive methods" but I made two interpretations. Please tell me which one is correct.

Bottle up the disruptive methods and Trump fears he could lose the magic that made him President.

#1. Keep him (imperative) from using disruptive methods then he will never be able to use the magic which will make him fear.

#2 If he (Trump) stop using such methods that he fears, he will never be able to use the magic.

Source: Inside Donald Trump's White House Chaos

  • I think that both your options are slightly inaccurate. The sentence highlighted in bold implies that the person is afraid of bottling up (stopping) the use of disruptive methods like the ones described previously. The reason the person is afraid is because those methods are the ones that made him President. So neither option #1 or #2 are really suitable. It should be along the lines: "Trump fears bottling up his disruptive methods will lose him the magic that made him President" or "Trump fears that if he stops using these disruptive methods, he will lose the magic that made him President".
    – Sid
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 8:40
  • The syntax there is a form of conditional statement, and can be paraphrased: If the disruptive methods are bottled up... (if they are contained or restrained). Buy sushi at a gas-station and you will regret it.
    – TimR
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 19:13

1 Answer 1


In fairy tales and other stories, there are often potions that give the consumer magical powers. They are often in little, clear bottles.
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The author is using figurative language to say that the disruptive methods are like magical potions. They give the consumer (Trump) magical powers (the power to disrupt). If you bottle them up (= take them away), then he loses his magic.

Further, magic has a meaning other than the one associated with spells and powers.

magic noun [U] (SPECIAL QUALITY)
​a special, exciting quality that makes something or someone different and better than others:
As an actress, she has lost none of her magic, and she still is thrilling to watch.

So lose the magic not only refers to losing his powers, but it also means that he would lose the charm that appealed to his supporters and got him elected as president.

Lastly, Trump fears that he could lose those things, or he is afraid that he could lose those things. The interpretation is not that he is afraid of them.

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