Trump the Chump


I’ve never been entirely convinced that Trump is the blithering idiot so many make him out to be. GWB’s “Aw Shucks!” pose didn’t fool me either.

This piece, on Trump as a wily marketing expert, rings much more true, and scary, to me.

It is easy to dismiss Donald Trump as an ignoramus, not least because he is. But he has an acute understanding of one thing: test marketing. He created himself in the gossip pages of the New York tabloids, where celebrity is manufactured by planting outrageous stories that you can later confirm or deny depending on how they go down. And he recreated himself in reality TV where the storylines can be adjusted according to the ratings. Put something out there, pull it back, adjust, go again.

Fascism doesn’t arise suddenly in an existing democracy. It is not easy to get people to give up their ideas of freedom and civility. You have to do trial runs that, if they are done well, serve two purposes. They get people used to something they may initially recoil from; and they allow you to refine and calibrate. This is what is happening now and we would be fools not to see it.


Whenever Trump wants to float ideas, he holds more of his rallies where he can use the audience as a sounding board. He’s good at playing them and reading the response.


Could well be. As with GWB, and a lot of politicians, I find him hard to read. He often really does seem like a compulsive, narcissistic idiot, but I think he also knows his audience(s). I don’t think he simply blundered his way into the presidency, and like many, I fear he and his minions are trying to guide us purposefully toward what amounts to a fascist consolidation of power. Hell, we’re already something like halfway there.


Where tha American Century began

2018-1950=Oh good, we still have some years left.


He is a con-man. Full stop.

This is classic cold-reading techniques. “I am getting something… It’s someone whose name starrts with an I… no, an L… no J! (someone reacts) Well, J is sometimes pronounced like an I, is it Jack, John, Joe… (the mark responds that it was Joseph). Joseph, well, a lot of Josephs go by Joe, so…”

You throw stuff out, see what sticks, and use minimisation of your misses to make people only remember the hits. The extra problem with Trump is that he’s entering or well within a cognitive decline. The behaviour is now baked in and automatic, but he’s not as good at keeping track of his misses/hits ratio, anymore. Which is why he needs his troll army to keep people from doing the same. His true believers are the same as the true believers of John Edwards, or Yuri Geller: they only remember the hits. That’s one reason why a lot of that base is hardcore evangelical – they’ve been trained to accept the message, not analyse the text. Any analysis can only be to support the message (“it’s true, sometimes J can be pronounced like I”) and ignore the simpler fact that in English, it’s not.

He’s neither stupid, nor a marketing genius. He’s a grifter, and grifters don’t need everyone to believe them and be on board. Just enough. He said it himself: “I love the poorly educated.”


Nice summary, basically, of the article that I linked to, except that it leaves out the consolidation of power bit. For Trump himself, it may really be all about him and him alone (who knows), but the effects are a much wider and deeper grabbing and cementing of far-right power. He’s clearly not the only person driving that consolidation.


No, he’s not. Which means it’s not necessarily about his skillset.

That’s why impeachment won’t work, and why November may accomplish nothing. Impeachment only cuts out a single tumor, but the cancer has metastasized. That’s what’s to be afraid of, not necessarily the big, visible symptoms.


Seems to me that


If Trump has any ability whatsoever it is extreme luck. He didn’t craft hyper-partisan politics, the GOP warchest if invisible money outside of campaign spending, an obsessive myth about the individual using his gut, or white fragility - but he did happen to be the avatar of if being born a 0.1% white man hier to real estate fortunes during an extended real estate boom and credited himself with mediocre performance in a race he started out three laps ahead in. He then took a big hit when the bubble burst and began become obsessed with how the world was screwing him over, and tapped into the celebrity-obsessed TEA Party for a quick buck.

The guy won by a historically a nearly impossibly slim margin in a system engineered to give his party the largest advantage possible against a bad candidate in a year when Ted Cruz was the moderate GOP candidate in the primary and every possible chance went in his favor - his political opposition Party’s inner politics were exposed, Comey not only stoked the fires of implying Clinton was guilty but days before the election publically reopened the investigation (both being the most measurable impacts on voter opinion from the election), and Clinton got pneumonia in the most important weeks on the campaign.

Even with his ability to energize the republican base by saying whatever gets him the best response on Twitter or from a crowd, he has only gotten by on the skin of his teeth and relying on the engine in place. Trump’s lack of shame and willingness to do anything to maintain his social position is what makes him dangerous - but it’s not because of his ability it’s because he would gladly make the US a single party state to make a few million dollars.


Maybe so.

Have you met the man? If not, and even if you only briefly had, how could you possibly know so well what’s been going on inside his head?


I consider him to be willing to go as low as every suburban six-figure middle-management TEA Party Libertarian/Republican I know; bragging about how they and another family share their wireless internet and Netflix, and how that makes them successful (not the houses and college educations their parents bought them). Trump (recently) became political to give paid speeches to the TEA Party and to take advantage of the state of campaign finance. He runs a charity in order to dodge taxes and network. He refuses to pay contractors because he can outspend them in court.


Yeah, “by their actions we shall know them” (or however that goes) does make a lot of sense in his case.

Still, for myself, without having come to know him as a person, I wouldn’t discount the possibility that playing the political game as a politician, a ruthless one or whatever, also has appeal for him, as much as merely continuing to be a greedy, self-centered prick (not that the two are mutually exclusive). He might even have a bit of patriotism somewhere inside himself, however misguided we would find his brand of it.

None of which is to excuse him. I just get wary sometimes of how confidently so many of us talk about this man and what “clearly” motivates him, how “obviously,” merely stupid and venal he is, and so on.



Hmm. Psychic prediction!


This may not belong here, but I had no idea this was an actual freaking thing…

(Maybe I’ve been living under a rock for the past year, but yes, Trumpy Bear is real.)


A wild claim out of Iran, picked up by Fox, watched by Trump, who tweets about it like it was factual.

Donnie keeps forgetting that he can just pick up the phone and ask someone to check on it.


Let’s say it’s completely true. If that’s the case, it’s… neither good or bad? It’s not like there’s anything wrong with Iranians just by virtue of them being from Iran. I’ve known several people from Iran who are cool AF… and of course the wonderful Mehdi Sadaghdar is from Iran.

Oh, right, Trump’s a fucking racist cockwomble.


He wouldn’t listen anyway. He’s incapable.



should I bother reading emptywheel?