It’s remarkable watching Donald Trump eviscerate the mainstream media.
If this was “The Matrix” he’s Neo. If this was “Star Trek,” I’d be like Spock studying a new intelligent life in the universe that feeds off its own popularity: the more energy put into killing it, the stronger it gets.
Trump is the hate eater; he digests abhorrence and excretes devotion.
“Fascinating,” the Spock in me says, watching Trump effortlessly turn “60 Minutes” host Scott Pelley into Jell-O, then deliver his own sound bite right on cue. It wasn’t even challenging for the master of manipulation, like Bruce Lee playing ping-pong with Nunchucks. Child’s play.
Watch how Trump deflects the conversation away from his own statements and failure to explain his views on President Obama (does Trump think he’s a Muslim? Or is Trump a birther?), and focus on the anonymous questioner.
(I would embed the CBS News video here, but it won’t properly display, so click here to watch.)
Trump got Pelley to inject his own views into the interview, straight off. And then he challenged those views, taking the argument right to the reporter. Someone like Pelley should know better, but even Megyn Kelley was sucked into Trump’s traps.
Pelley tried to ask a question about the New Hampshire gaffe (which would have killed most candidates faster than Howard Dean’s scream, by the way), and instead of a valid question, Trump gave no ground and turned the tables.
“You never know when they’re coming. But here you had a bigot…” Pelley said, and—BOOM—the trap sprung. It was over before the prey knew he was dead.
“You don’t know that he was a bigot,” Trump said, and there was Pelley, pie-eyed and disarmed, with a weak softball that Neo saw coming a mile away.
“I love the Muslims.” Yep, some of Trump’s best friends are Muslim, and they live in his buildings, yada yada.
“We could say there are no problems with the Muslims…there’s no terrorism…there’s no anything…they didn’t knock down the World Trade Center.”
Absolutely true. But nobody is saying that. Nobody is saying there’s no problem.
But now the hate eater is dining on an appetizer.
“To the best of my knowledge, the people that knocked down the World Trade Center…they didn’t fly back to Sweden.”
Interview over. Nothing remotely useful was said (which is how it always ends), but Trump won.
So what is it about Trump that makes him uniquely Neo-like and Teflon-coated? People say he’s “Reaganesque” but he’s not. Reagan was a genuine conservative. Reagan had executive experience as governor of California. Reagan was not a self-obsessed narcissist. He was just a good communicator.
Cartoonist Scott Adams has advanced a theory about Trump, based on his own studies of hypnosis and subliminal manipulation. At this point, Adams says Trump is evolving from “outsider” to “authentic.”
Authenticity goes further than simple honesty. Honesty means saying what you think is true. But authenticity means saying what you think is true and STAYING IN CHARACTER. Trump certainly does that. He is always full-Trump, and never anything else.
So… is that why people want him to lead the country? Is it because he is so authentic?
No. Trump’s authenticity helps his likability, I assume. But going back to the job applicant analogy, no one ever hired an employee because he seemed so darned authentic. That’s not a thing. The media is telling you it is a thing. While it is true that people LIKE Trump’s authentic-looking style, no one trusts the nuclear launch code to the guy that has authenticity and not much else.
In August I predicted that Trump’s New York swagger would start to grow on people. Once you get past your first reaction (That arrogant braggart!) you settle in and enjoy the show. Trump is making the world get used to him, and it seems to be working. The stuff you hate about him is mostly a side show, and you come to realize it. The things you might like about Trump (business experience, negotiating skills) don’t change as time goes by. So according to the Master Wizard Hypothesis, simply hanging around should be good for Trump, as people get acclimated to his abrasive style, get past all the distraction, and remember he didn’t get where he is by luck (entirely), or by being an “outsider,” or by being authentic.
The Master Wizard Hypothesis I have been using to describe Trump says he is succeeding because his skills at persuasion are unmatched by anyone in the race. (He did write a best selling book on negotiating.) Under this hypothesis, his fourth-grade level of speaking is part of that persuasion. As a general rule, simpler speech is more persuasive. Trump stays simple. Intentionally.
So there it is. Trump is the consummate media insider, and a skilled negotiator, able to turn most conversations away from his own goals and desires, and to those things that Trump wishes to highlight.
Trump stays simple. He stays in character. And he makes HIMSELF “a thing.” Because God knows that any other measure used for his fitness to become leader of the free world doesn’t move the needle a femtometer.
Trump has to become the thing he is selling, and he’s very, very good at doing that. And his prime directive, like his speech, is very simple: “When dealing with people, remember that you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” Dale Carnegie said that.
Spock would agree.
(Crossposted from sgberman.com)