Tuesday, July 19, 2016

An interesting foreign perspective on Donald Trump


As I've said many times before, I'm not a Trump disciple.  I'm not sure whether he has what it takes to be President of the United States.  Unless and until I am sure, one way or the other, I'll reserve judgment.  (On the other hand, I'm absolutely convinced that Hillary Clinton would be a disastrous President!  In 1996 William Safire called her a 'congenital liar'.  I've seen nothing in the twenty years since then to make me disagree with him, and her mendacity appears to have extended to what I can only consider wholesale corruption.  I think she'd be a real and present danger to the security of this country if she were to be elected or appointed to any office, let alone the Presidency.)

Despite my reservations, I find Mr. Trump worth studying.  He's a fascinating combination of attractive and . . . well, let's be honest, repulsive elements.  I hope and pray that the former are more numerous and more dominant than the latter!  The fact that the US mainstream media are almost universally opposed to him can only be a positive sign, IMHO.  Here's how the Telegraph in Britain sees him.

To understand how he came this far, we have to understand that his rise and rise has been down not to politics or philosophy but personality. Donald Trump doesn’t just see himself as a man, he sees himself as a brand. And that’s what he’s been selling his whole life. The election is just one more sales pitch.

. . .

Trump flew a flag so large that it broke local zoning restrictions and the town fined him $250 a day. When the fine had grown to $125,000, Trump sued back, claiming that his First Amendment rights were being denied. A compromise was reached that saw the length of the flagpole lowered – but it remained the highest in town.

That has always been the key to Trump’s success: make an unreasonable demand in order to strike a deal for less but which still leaves him the winner. As he wrote in his 1987 manifesto The Art of the Deal: “Sheer persistence is the difference between success and failure.”

. . .

As Trump wrote in The Art of the Deal: “Good publicity is preferable to bad, but from a bottom-line perspective, bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all. Controversy, in short, sells.” One sure fire way to stay in the limelight is to tinker with politics. He’s been doing it for decades.

The big myth about Trump that needs exploding is the idea that he stumbled into politics without a game plan. Again, that’s branding. The reality is that his carefully choreographed flirtation with the presidency goes back decades.

In 1990, Donald gave an interview with Playboy Magazine that he could easily have given this year. He decried the rise of urban anarchy: “we need the death penalty and authority given back to the police.” He bemoaned the success of Asian economies, charging them – as he does today – with currency manipulation. They did it and got away with it, he said, because they had the balls to try: “People need ego, whole nations need ego. I think our country needs more ego, because it is being ripped off so badly by our so-called allies.”

The interviewer asked if Donald would ever run for president and he said no – but if he did then it would be as a Democrat. Not because he was Left-wing but because he suspected he’d appeal more to the Democrats’ working-class base: “the working guy would elect me. He likes me. When I walk down the street, those cabbies start yelling out their windows.”

. . .

... when he declared his candidacy on June 16, Trump was not – as he and the pundits claimed – some complete newcomer who had accidentally tapped into a spirit of rebellion. He was a serious political operative with talking points that had been rigorously tested by pollsters.

He would, he said, end illegal Mexican immigration – and he’d do it by doing what he’d spent his whole life doing. He’d build a wall. By the end of the year, Trump was far ahead in the polls.

Behind that success was a brilliant media strategy, a strategy designed to look naïve. One academic study calculated that Trump’s limited and repetitive use of simple words – wall, great, horrible – gives him the vocabulary level of an eight-year-old. But any accusation of idiocy doesn’t reflect the level of sophistication in Trump’s writings, earlier interviews or his moderate academic success.

It’s more likely that he’s deploying language that experience and polling tells him works very well – words that can be fired like bullets over Twitter. An analysis by Politico found that he Tweets “more adjectives” than any primary candidate bar one, and that they are overwhelmingly rude and directed at other people. He called Jeb Bush “weak” six times during his campaign; Ted Cruz “nasty” four times; Mitt Romney “failed” nine times; and Marco Rubio “lightweight” 47 times. His favourite pejorative is “sad”, which he has used 159 times since 2009.

Another myth about Trump is that he’s anti-press, that as president he might even try to censor it. Yet no candidate before or since has been happier to hold press conferences and take questions. One study found that in the course of a year, Trump made 68 appearances on Sunday talk shows, while Clinton did just 21.

. . .

As the primaries came to an end, it emerged that Trump was running low on cash. Now he has to rely upon the help of the Republican Party to keep afloat, one of the great ironies of this election ... But don’t be surprised if Trump takes the Republicans’ money and then campaigns on his own terms. Why wouldn’t he? He has so far defied the rules of American politics and has succeeded because, for all his many flaws, his instincts are far closer to those of the average American than his rivals can match. Ultimately, Trump has won votes for the same reason that he’s been a success in business. The sales pitch has been smart and many people rather like the product.

There's more at the link.

Whatever Mr. Trump decides to do next, I figure it's going to be interesting!

Peter

9 comments:

Minecraft Chuck said...

Trump, the candidate, has one supreme virtue, which all the other mainstream candidates lack. He is, first and foremost, an American. He gets that the American government should work to the benefit of the American people.

Of course he's a good salesman. He's identified a product which the public is hungry for, and which no one else is currently providing.

Anonymous said...

Everything I've read about people that have personal dealings with the man shows him to be big hearted, not entitled. That speaks to character, when you treat well those who cannot do a thing for you. Everything I've read about the democrat, she goes out of her way to punish those around her. THAT speaks to character as well.

I've seen how he has made his way through business by using the law and the systems in place for his benefit. I can't fault him for that. The democrat has flaunted the law, basically been the money launderer for the family.

I sure hope we got it right. But looking at the democrat, there is no choice to be made.

My opinion is worth what you paid for it!!

Dirk said...

Scott Adams (Dilbert) has been writing a truly fascinating series of articles about Trump, defining him as a "Master Persuader". It's really been quite interesting to see Adams' interpretation of everything Trump has done. Assuming Adams is correct, Trump has done a masterful job of putting himself in the position he's in. Go read for yourself, well worth the time.

Guffaw in AZ said...

He seems to be a big state populist, akin to Huey Long.
IF he is elected, who knows what we'll actually get.
And, in spite of the bombast, he'll still have to deal with Congress to get anything done.

gfa

BigFire said...

Scott Adams have also not jokingly enough endorsed Clinton for his own personal safety reason, correctly predicting that demented Clintonian will literally kill him for voting wrong.

Gorges Smythe said...

I wouldn't want to have him for a neighbor, but I'd love to have him as president. What's that called; NIMBY? lol

Uncle Lar said...

The absolute best thing Trump has going for him is he isn't Hillary.
Both Clintons are pieces of work, but at least Bill has an engaging personality. Hillary, on the other hand is vindictive, mean spirited, greedy beyond all reason, and not terribly bright, though clever in a basic sense in her ability to skirt the very edge of the law.
As a proud supporter of our American system of government, at least how it was first intended to be, I fear a Hillary presidency above all else short of an attack by foreign troops on American soil. She would steal a page from her favorite mentors Alinsky and Obama and ravage our entire Bill of Rights, the First and Second Amendments in particular.

Gail said...

There is much to wonder about...but we must block Hillary. It may be a choice of the lesser of two evils.

Cogsys said...

Trump is first and foremost a showman. To date, he has used his skill extensively in his business dealings, but I believe he has more in common with PT Barnum than he does JD Rockefeller.

Look at the central tactic of his campaign, his 'wild statement's have served to keep Hillary out of the news cycle, and, I believe accounts for his near parity with her in the polls, despite her outspending him something like 40 to 1.

He has also benefited from outside events that seem to continually seize the news cycle from Hillary issues and turn them to Trump issues. Remember, in the beginning of his campaign he was sort of languishing, but was coming out for better immigration controls. Then, when San Bernardino occurred, it was an easy pivot to Islamin Refugees, an area where Clinton is vulnerable.

Repeatedly, each time she begins to get her feet under her, another event occurs which brings to question the policies she will support.

Most recently, she began to make certain some progress with the BLM issue after the deaths in Minnesota and Louisiana. Then, just as she began to get traction, there are police killings, taking the wind from her sails.

So she and Obama move to gun control, and again, just as she is beginning to get traction, you have the Nice massacre, accomplished with little!e use of fire arms.

It's rather incredible that each attempt by her to advance her strategy has in almost every case been thwarted by an outside events.