Donald and Duality

 

two-sides-of-trumpOver a year ago, I predicted that other Republican candidates would steal Trump’s issues and that he would flame out. Oops.

But over the last year, I’ve been trying to study Trump. He’s a shrewder operator than I realized, but he’s also more in line with his recent predecessors than we may have expected.

The last 24 years have given us presidents with two sides — light and dark, good and bad — to how they govern.

First, we had Bill Clinton. On the one hand, we had Sunday Morning Bill, who was at home in church and wonking off about details. On the other hand, we had Saturday Night Bill, who was happier partying and doing more than wonking with interns.

Second, we had George W. Bush. On the one hand, we had the effective executive who, despite losing both branches of Congress in 2006, was still was able to pass the Iraq surge and TARP. On the other hand, we had Dubya, who spent billions of dollars and thousands of lives to make Iraq a bigger mess than it already was.

Third, we had Barack Obama. On the one hand, we had a smooth speaker who often appealed to our better natures. On the other hand, he had a hard time giving much credit to anybody he disagreed with, and it’s tough to think of any legislative accomplishments in his last six years that were of the magnitude of the surge and TARP. His biggest achievement, the Affordable Care Act, looks like it will be drastically revised in the next few years.

Enter The Donald.

The dark side of the man is already well known. Whether on the Howard Stern Show or in the leaked tapes with Billy Bush, we know that Trump has a side that’s both sinister and unserious.

But people do not become multimillionaires, let alone billionaires, through clownishness. He has to have a more serious side. And it may well be that Ali G, of all people, caught that side on film:

There may yet be hope that the Trump presidency will be more serious than the reality TV show that made him famous. But it would behoove his advisers to let us see the sober Trump more often and keep the clownish one under control. Yes, he’s just pretending for the cameras. Let’s recall the shrewd advice of Kurt Vonnegut: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” Can Trump pretend to be presidential? If by “presidential,” we mean “reserved and respectful,” then probably not. He staged a hostile takeover of the GOP and a successful presidential campaign through trolling, and we should expect him to stick with what’s worked. He was able to regularly get his opponents to overreact and thus made himself seem saner by comparison.

He describes his style as “truthful hyperbole.” We must take him seriously — how can anyone not take the President of the United States seriously? — but we cannot take him literally. James Altucher once suggested that a key to success was to over-promise and over-deliver. Trump has the over-promising down cold.

But he also knows how to provoke his enemies. Consider his recent tweet about the popular vote: “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

Democrats and the media (if that’s not redundant) are reacting predictably:

Trump, of course, is pointing only to “fraud” that benefited Clinton; Virginia, New Hampshire and California are all states she won, and the baseless idea that illegal immigrants voted by the millions is supposed to have helped Clinton, given the fact that immigrants — and specifically undocumented ones — overwhelmingly favor Democrats.

Trump was doing this to make the case that he didn’t actually lose the popular vote, which has become a Democratic rallying cry following Clinton’s loss. It’s clearly a sore spot for Trump.

But the president-elect is also, unwittingly and amazingly, calling into question the results of an election that he won nearly three weeks ago. The logical extension of his argument is that all results should not be trusted. In effect, Trump is lending credence to the very same recount effort that he criticized as superfluous.

Trump seems to be setting the ground for reforms to prevent future voter fraud. Republicans have wanted voter ID laws for decades, and if Democrats aren’t careful, Trump will back them into a corner on this. If Democrats really care about preventing vote fraud, Trump might say, then how could they oppose laws for showing voter ID? Assuming that Trump is a buffoon is an error I made last year, but it looks like people will keep on repeating the mistake.

Trump looks like he’ll keep on trolling. But remember that behind the bluster is a shrewd businessman who only plays the clown in public.

There are 17 comments.

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  1. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily
    @tigerlily

    Nice post.

    • #1
  2. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Here’s how you can’t take a president seriously.  From my own blog at RushBabe49.com.

     

    • #2
  3. TKC1101 Inactive
    TKC1101
    @TKC1101

    You call it a sore spot, I call it a destroying a disabling meme. By dropping voter fraud on top of the lost the popular vote, he gave his supporters a simple comeback to a stupid meme that would take hold and eat away at his brand.

    Anyone who has marketed a brand knows you cannot let negatives pile up unanswered, it destroys you. See GW Bush, a brand so sullied it limped out of the White House.

    Get used to attack and reply. It is how it works in the private sector.

    • #3
  4. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    My guess is that you share my confusion regarding Fiorina’s failure to take Trump out.

    As a CEO (even if a bad one) of a major publicly-traded company, Fiorina (veteran of may shareholder meetings, board meetings, press conferences, etc.) should have been able to rip Trump apart much as a UK PM (debate veteran) would be expected to rip a US President apart.

    She didn’t even try.

    • #4
  5. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    Guess you missed this

    http://ricochet.com/archives/trump-is-no-clown-take-it-from-someone-who-knows-clowns/

    The video with Ali G reminded me of the Trump I saw. Funny how he was the only one who didn’t humor him.

    • #5
  6. Mike Hubbard Member
    Mike Hubbard
    @MikeHubbard

    TKC1101: You call it a sore spot, I call it a destroying a disabling meme. By dropping voter fraud on top of the lost the popular vote, he gave his supporters a simple comeback to a stupid meme that would take hold and eat away at his brand.

    I didn’t call it a sore spot.  But I do think that Trump is setting a trap that the Democrats are walking into.

    • #6
  7. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    I can only recall two negative things I said about Trump. One, that he was boorish and, two, that I wished he would finish speaking a complete thought before changing the subject. Then when Cruz was out, I got behind Trump.

    Trump sees what nobody else at a place where they can do anything has been able to see or is interested in seeing. He expressed it as: ‘Something is wrong here and somebody has to do something’, that’s a paraphrase. So now we have him because voters could see also that something is wrong.

    I likely don’t have many changes in POTUS left to see so I’m hoping we can get’er done now.

    • #7
  8. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    TKC1101:You call it a sore spot, I call it a destroying a disabling meme. By dropping voter fraud on top of the lost the popular vote, he gave his supporters a simple comeback to a stupid meme that would take hold and eat away at his brand.

    Anyone who has marketed a brand knows you cannot let negatives pile up unanswered, it destroys you. See GW Bush, a brand so sullied it limped out of the White House.

    Get used to attack and reply. It is how it works in the private sector.

    It is, as Scott Adams has noted, how Trump always responds in kind.  You accuse him of fraud (by way of demanding recounts and constantly harping on the popular vote) and he hits right back with his own fraud charges.

    • #8
  9. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    TKC1101:

    Get used to attack and reply. It is how it works in the private sector.

    In the private sector, the replies are usually based on a semblance of well-crafted fact, as opposed to unproven hyperbole.

     

    • #9
  10. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Hoyacon:

    TKC1101:

    Get used to attack and reply. It is how it works in the private sector.

    In the private sector, the replies are usually based on a semblance of well-crafted fact, as opposed to unproven hyperbole.

    You can still expect Trump to ignore any facts that don’t matter, such as the exact number of non-citizens that voted for Clinton. In that case he was making the press think past the sale (that non-citizens voted) and forcing them to spend time talking about the exact number until our brains uncritically accept his central premise that lots of non-citizens voted for Clinton. That is pure persuasion. He won’t change the methods that work.

    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/153865618451/the-idea-you-are-least-likely-to-believe

    • #10
  11. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    I’m sorry – I wasn’t able to read your entire post. Am sneaking this comment in while at work on hold for Tech Support.

    I highly recommend you read Scott Adams blog. None of this campaign made sense to me until I started reading Scott.

    He called it very early for Trump, well before the primaries. Try and go back to last Spring. Also, he’s been doing almost daily periscopes which I believe are archived for a time.

    bottom line #1 : facts don’t matter

    bottom line #2: Trump is a master persuader

    Edited to add: I posted this before I saw Skip’s comment above

     

     

    • #11
  12. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Hoyacon:

    TKC1101:

    Get used to attack and reply. It is how it works in the private sector.

    In the private sector, the replies are usually based on a semblance of well-crafted fact, as opposed to unproven hyperbole.

    Perhaps true when the attacks to which the replies are directed are well founded. This is not what is typical in the Left’s attacks.

    • #12
  13. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Hoyacon:

    TKC1101:

    Get used to attack and reply. It is how it works in the private sector.

    In the private sector, the replies are usually based on a semblance of well-crafted fact, as opposed to unproven hyperbole.

    Yes but the recount is unproven hyperbole.  Seriously, why would Stein who got less than 1% of the vote demand much less be granted a recount?  How is that not hyperbole?

    • #13
  14. TKC1101 Inactive
    TKC1101
    @TKC1101

    Hoyacon: In the private sector, the replies are usually based on a semblance of well-crafted fact, as opposed to unproven hyperbole.

    So TMZ and the Hollywood scandal sheets , in the private sector , where reputations are attacked everyday, are a source of well crafted fact?

    Celebrity brands are images, just like political brands.

    • #14
  15. Mike Hubbard Member
    Mike Hubbard
    @MikeHubbard

    Annefy: I highly recommend you read Scott Adams blog. None of this campaign made sense to me until I started reading Scott.

    I have been reading Scott Adams, and think that the Master Persuader Wizard bit is oversold. Trump is unquestionably a superb salesman, but he couldn’t sell a product that has no demand. To my eye, he was raising issues that many people care about that had been declared off-limits, and people were so grateful that someone was actually talking about trade and immigration that they were willing to overlook Trump’s erratic behavior.

    • #15
  16. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Mike Hubbard:

    Annefy: I highly recommend you read Scott Adams blog. None of this campaign made sense to me until I started reading Scott.

    I have been reading Scott Adams, and think that the Master Persuader Wizard bit is oversold. Trump is unquestionably a superb salesman, but he couldn’t sell a product that has no demand. To my eye, he was raising issues that many people care about that had been declared off-limits, and people were so grateful that someone was actually talking about trade and immigration that they were willing to overlook Trump’s erratic behavior.

    The money and power elite have prevailed in our political scene through a misdirection ploy involving several sub-strategies that include media focus on entertainment instead of news, political correctness dealing with race, ethnicity, women’s issues, sexual orientation, and lately attacks on western civilization (white privilege), and a long standing hollowing of education, public and private. Except for the attacks on culture and education, the above lists involves mostly those who fill their daily lives with what they hear about other people, in other words , gossip, what the media now presents as news.

    The Republicans presented more of the same, Jeb and others, and a too serious for the moment constitutionalist, Cruz, but Trump appealed to the broad segment of people serious about what was actually happening to them and those close to them, their families. I look for moves in the right direction by Trump against all these attacks.

    • #16
  17. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    TKC1101:You call it a sore spot, I call it a destroying a disabling meme. By dropping voter fraud on top of the lost the popular vote, he gave his supporters a simple comeback to a stupid meme that would take hold and eat away at his brand.

    Anyone who has marketed a brand knows you cannot let negatives pile up unanswered, it destroys you. See GW Bush, a brand so sullied it limped out of the White House.

    Get used to attack and reply. It is how it works in the private sector.

    This is why Romney didn’t win. Obama/democrat smear machine would call Romney a murder (remember he killed that guy’s wife with cancer) and Romney would respond with “Obama is a fine family man” or something equally lame… Romney should’ve let Trump write a few speeches for him. Iam sure Romney thought he was acting dignified, and classy – but to a lot of people it looked like he didnt have the gumption to stand up for himself and let his outrage flow.

    • #17

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