Does it mean "He just talks, he doesn't do anything"?

"I sometimes call Trump the 'placebo president,'" Cowen says. "For all the talk about change, so far he's shown he can't get anything done."

Source: http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/12/news/economy/us-economy-big-problem-tyler-cowen/index.html?iid=SF_LN

  • 2
    This link translates "for all the talk about x" as meaning "despite all that is said about X". forum.wordreference.com/threads/…
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 13, 2017 at 11:01
  • Exactly! Although it implies that HE is doing the talking, it doesn't actually say so. It could also refer to members of his team. Whatever the case, very little is changing. Apr 13, 2017 at 11:01
  • Yes. All mouth and no trousers (luckily).
    – Strawberry
    Apr 13, 2017 at 11:35

2 Answers 2


The expression is "For all the X about Y, Z", where X is public reaction ("commotion", "outrage", "discussion"), Y is some topic of concern, and Z is some sentence to the effect that nobody really cares about Y. Quotation marks are often used.

"For all the caterwauling about 'access to health care', 20 million people still lack insurance."

If you substituted despite in place of for, the sentence would make a lot more sense, but the fine sarcasm would be lost.

If you want to criticize one person, put a possessive pronoun in for the.

"For all his talk about getting in shape, he hasn't been to the gym in months."

(Perhaps this should be an answer on the "Snarky Passive-Aggression for English Language Learners" stack-exchange...)


There may be implied effectiveness here when talking about

For all the talk about change

so far he's shown he can't get anything done, properly/effectively/the way it was said

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