My Take On Trump

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I don’t think I have written up my official Take On Trump for this Tohu Bohu. I don’t think it’s terribly likely to be correct, but this is what I think is going on:

First of all, I imagine that Donald Trump is one of those guys who thinks everyone else is a moron. Who believes, fundamentally, that everyone he comes in contact with is an incompetent, an idiot and a loser, a grifter and a moron, and that his correct and appropriate job is to gull them, take their money, and expose them for the frauds they are. I could certainly be wrong, but that’s my impression. When he (in a business dealing or any matter) judges himself to have come out ahead, that is the correct outcome and entirely to have been expected. When he comes out at a loss, it’s a bizarre anomaly, probably due to something being rigged, and is only temporary anyway, and (retrospectively) he didn’t come out at a loss anyway, it was terrific for him. I don’t know the man, but I genuinely believe that to be how he feels.

Second, I think Donald Trump got into the race in the first place to derail Jeb Bush. He has bad blood with the Governor from some land deals, evidently, and he didn’t like Our Previous President, and I think he initially talked about running as a way to attack Jeb Bush and prevent him from being the nominee. That’s not to say he hadn’t thought about it before, because he clearly did, but the thing that made him jump in to the fray this time was, I believe, the intention to knock Jeb out of the race. After which he probably expected to declare that he wasn’t going to run, after all, and withdraw before even filing paperwork to become an official candidate. He certainly didn’t at that point begin putting together an actual organization. No, I think he was intending to toy with the idea and then declare victory and walk, just like he did in 2012.

And then he led in all the polls. And kept leading in all the polls without spending any money. And I believe he thought this stuff is easy. He thought all those people who say this is hard are morons, looking for other morons to pay them for moronic advice. He thought I can do this in my sleep. And he filed the paperwork. And he went to rallies and got cheers and had a blast. And he kept leading the polls.

Now, my contention is that his lead in the polls and his following had more to do with people enjoying watching him on television, portraying the Donald Trump character, than with the Wall. Donald Trump was not the only candidate who could appeal to angry nativists. He was not the only candidate who could appeal to trade protectionists. He was not the only candidate who could appeal to the people who wanted, above all, to stick it to the Man. But he was the only candidate who could appeal to fans of The Apprentice, and we know there are millions of those. Probably, although it’s hard to be sure, more millions than there are angry nativists. Whatever the case, once he was in the lead, and with the utter dominance of the media—he is, I must say, extremely good at publicizing a brand, whatever his deficiencies as a real-estate developer—the angry nativists and isolationists and trade protectionists had no real reason not to drift into his camp. And I was hocking here for months about how the Party apparatus, particularly the seventy-odd Senators and Governors, failed to come to an agreement and endorse a candidate in a way that would indicate to the rest of the Party what they should be doing. And then Governor Kasich didn’t drop out when he had no chance of winning. Anyway, I’m not talking about why he won the nomination at this point, but I want to digress enough to make the point that (like any nominee) he benefitted from what other people in the Party did, both their mistakes and their strategic choices, as well as from blind luck. And I don’t think Donald Trump knows that. I think he genuinely believes that he won because he did everything right, and that all the people who gave him advice he didn’t take are morons and grifters. The he proved himself right and them all wrong.

And, you know, to some extent they were wrong and he was right. That’s fair.

But not everything the professionals said was wrong. Donald Trump, like any nominee, won despite a bunch of mistakes and screw-ups. And unlike the normal nominee, I don’t believe he knows that, or has anyone he respects that can tell him what those screw-ups were and how to avoid them in the future. Certainly, there is no evidence that he listened to people who know how to deal with the publicity surrounding a national party convention. He thinks those people are morons and grifters, and why would he listen to them?

So he let his wife give a (by the way, perfectly good) speech that plagiarized a speech by the incredibly popular First Lady from the other Party. That not only took publicity away from the point of the speech (Melania is capable of being a cromulent First Lady, and Donald is not a monster) and focused publicity on the disorganization of the campaign, but brought the aforementioned very popular Michelle Obama back into the discussion. Suboptimal. And yet, sure, every campaign has some cock-up somewhere. And sure, the Jumbotron going haywire in the middle of the show during broadcast time could happen to anyone. And yeah, the New York Times was going to interpret his interview for maximum outrageousness, so giving them an interview on the day before the big speech, the day that was supposed to be primarily devoted to introducing a Vice-Presidential candidate chosen for his exquisite cromulence, was dumb, but it’s not like the VP nominee is going to walk off. None of these things are going to drive away millions of voters. They are lost opportunities, and more than that, they are rookie mistakes of the kind that could have been caught and/or ameliorated by the professionals. The people who really do have specific knowledge of this stuff. The ones who may well be morons and grifters, but who are still good at their jobs.

My point is that (A) this particular screw-up was due to not having a large enough professional staff to do all the stuff that needs doing, and that (2) the lack of a real professional staff is due to the candidate believing that the people who know stuff are morons who don’t know anything, and (iii) I don’t see any reason to believe that the candidate will acknowledge the usefulness of a professional staff and start to gather one around him for the remainder of the campaign. Which, by the way, is four months. A long time to run a project without anyone who knows what the hell they’re doing on board.

And, of course, it’s a bit terrifying to imagine Donald Trump as President of the United States whilst still believing that everyone around him is a moron and a grafter. Who thinks that everything is really simple and easy, and any disasters are because other people are losers. Who will not listen to anyone tell him why a bad idea is bad, or how to make a simple idea into a complicated but workable one. And, of course (I say of course) he could still win the election. At a wild guess, his incompetence as a candidate will cost him not more than five points below where a generic Republic candidate would be, and that may well be enough to win. Heaven help us all.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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