The best thing about Donald Trump's domination of the American political scene this year is that he has stumped every pundit in the land (save one). I am a fan of many of these big boys in Washington. I watch them on Fox News with awe.
But man, did they blow this one. The herd mentality in Washington has turned them into lemmings going off the cliff.
The only pundit of any renown to figure The Donald out was Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip. Since August, he has blogged about how The Donald is winning and spinning heads on TV.
On August 13, 2015, Scott Adams wrote:
Like many of you, I have been entertained by the unstoppable clown car that is Donald Trump. On the surface, and several layers deep as well, Trump appears to be a narcissistic blow-hard with inadequate credentials to lead a country.
The only problem with my analysis is that there is an eerie consistency to his success so far. Is there a method to it? Is there some sort of system at work under the hood?
Probably yes. Allow me to describe some of the hypnosis and persuasion methods Mr. Trump has employed on you. (Most of you know I am a trained hypnotist and this topic is a hobby of mine.)
For starters, Trump literally wrote the book on negotiating, called The Art of the Deal.
So we know he is familiar with the finer points of persuasion. For our purposes today, persuasion, hypnosis, and negotiating all share a common set of tools, so I will conflate them.
Would Trump use his negotiation and persuasion skills in the campaign? Of course he would. And we expect him to do just that.
But where is the smoking gun of his persuasion? Where is his technique laid out for us to see.
Scott Adams then gave several examples. One was Trump's personal wealth, which Trump said is $10 billion. His detractors say aha! He is "only" worth $2.6 billion.Everywhere.
Scott Adams explained why Trump attacked Rosie O'Donnell (an old favorite feud of his):
And what did you think of Trump’s famous “Rosie O’Donnell” quip at the first debate when asked about his comments on women? The interviewer’s questions were intended to paint Trump forever as a sexist pig. But Trump quickly and cleverly set the “anchor” as Rosie O’Donnell, a name he could be sure was not popular with his core Republican crowd. And then he casually admitted, without hesitation, that he was sure he had said other bad things about other people as well.So what Trump is doing is setting himself to be attacked on his own terms. He made the choice between him and her. In order to attack him, you have to side with Rosie O'Donnell.
There was this Scott Adams insight:
Trump also said he thinks Mexico should pay for the fence, which made most people scoff. But if your neighbor’s pit bull keeps escaping and eating your rosebushes, you tell the neighbor to pay for his own fence or you will shoot his dog next time you see it. Telling a neighbor to build his own wall for your benefit is not crazy talk. And I actually think Trump could pull it off.This is great punditry. Adams did his homework. He read Trump's books. He looked at the broad picture.
Trump thinks in three dimensions, according to Adams. As does Adams. Trump's critics are stuck in two dimensions. Every situation is either/or. The pundits on TV talk among themselves and when something happens outside the little box they've placed themselves in, they freak. Attacking Rosie O'Donnell didn't foul Trump out? The only logical explanation for this is that Trump's supporters are stupid.
And sexist. And racist. After all, most of them are white and don't have college degrees. Never mind that most Americans are white (75%) and most Americans do not have a college degree (75%). It never occurs to the wizards of cable TV that not everyone has a college degree. When I call Mullens to fix the furnace (or hot water heater or AC or plumbing) I do not want someone with a college degree; I want someone who can fix the problem with competence. They make good wages. But the pundits on TV have talked themselves into thinking that if you do not have a college degree, you must be stupid.
Adams rejects all that, instead looking at Trump as a salesman. Successful politicians are good salesmen. Pundits call them communicators, but they are all Willy Lomans, judged by the shine on their shoe and the smile on their face.
In October, while the TV pundits were yakking about Peak Trump and how Ben Carson was surging ahead of Trump in Iowa, Adams predicted a Trump landslide in the general election.
On October 23, 2015, Scott Adams wrote: "The latest poll out of Iowa shows Carson ahead of Trump. And you know what that means? It means Iowa is about to become irrelevant."
Irrelevant? From Scott Adams:
A lot of things became irrelevant this election cycle.
Old-guard Republican leadership became irrelevant after Trump emerged and rewrote the platform. Boehner literally quit and ran away.
The Huffington Post moved Trump to the entertainment section and sealed their reputation as a useless wart on society.
We all got to watch Trump domesticate FOX News, CNN, and now CNBC. If Trump wins the presidency, every pollster and every pundit (except me) is wrong to the point of irrelevancy.
Hillary Clinton joined the bandwagon of destruction by declaring her gender an important selling point for a job, thus leaving both her candidacy and the reputation of modern feminism in tatters.
I assume none of you saw any of that coming. And now you don’t believe Trump can win in a landslide. I will make that case over the next few blog posts. It will be more fun to watch the tumblers fall into place in slow motion.Donald Trump has succeeded in making this election a referendum on Donald Trump. The president gave only his third prime-time speech following the San Bernardino massacre. Trump subsequently issued a two-paragraph press release and everyone was talking about that.
Why? Because Trump said the obvious: Stop Muslim immigration until we can figure out who is a terrorist and who is not a terrorist.
And who figured this out? Charles Krauthammer? George Will? Bill O'Reilly? Satan's sister er, Kathleen Parker?
No, the dude who draws a comic strip about an engineer frustrated by the bureaucracy figured it out. He did so not by attending the right parties or talking to the same sources, but by reading and observing. Instead of wasting time coming up with new insults to hurl at Trump supporters, Adams thought about how Trump was winning.
Drawing a cartoon is difficult, but drawing a conclusion is easy. Why then cannot men and women of such great depth of experience all fail down like this? What applies in science applies in politics.
"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." --- Richard P. Feynman.Scott Adams gets what is going on and is having a lot of fun with this.
On December 9, 2015, Scott Adams wrote, "My Offer to Stop Donald Trump."
The proposition is that the public can pledge any amount of money to a crowdfunding site to activate my persuasion skills to stop Donald Trump. Each person might only pledge $10, so no big risk involved. If Trump loses in the general election, I get the full $1 billion for my efforts, EVEN IF YOU THINK MY EFFORTS MADE NO DIFFERENCE. That last part is important because the public would not see my fingerprints on anything. The press would report that people simply tired of Trump’s act, or maybe some future gaffe would be credited with his downfall. But that would not necessarily be the real story. Then, as now, the public and the media see Trump as a 2D player. I see him as a 3D player who manages your emotions, not your sense of reason. If I do the same, my technique will be as invisible as Trump’s.
If I fail, and Trump wins, the payout would not be triggered, and I get nothing. And if the crowdfunding pledges never reach the full $1 billion, I would do nothing at all but continue to report on Trump as I have been doing, as objectively as I can.Brilliant. It is now implanted in people's mind that the only person who can stop Donald Trump will not do so unless he gets ONE BEELYUN DOLLAHS,
Equally brilliant was the explanation by Scott Adams on December 24, 2015, of that whole schlonged nonsense:
1. Schlonged has just enough deniability built into it (similar to saying someone “sucks”) that Trump could almost-sort-of-but-not-quite explain it away. That “almost-but-not quite” quality makes it news. That is precisely how one would engineer a sticky story. A future president (and potential role model) who uses vulgar terms is a “man bites dog” story with just the right amount of “maybe not” to keep people jabbering.
2. Schlonged has what I call the “Osso Bucco effect.“ When you hear about a pork dish called osso bucco, you have to repeat its name several times in your head. You almost can’t resist. Same with schlonged. That looks engineered to me. In hypnosis, this is a variant of the O.J. defense “If the glove fits, you must acquit.” The science of persuasion says a rhyme is more persuasive than a non-rhyme, probably because you repeat it several times in your head, like schlonged.
3. A strong majority of humans love schlongs. Men love schlongs because we have them. Lots of women like them too. Schlongs are not politically correct, but when it comes to popular body parts, they are in the top two. From a rational perspective, using a vulgar-sounding expression is a mistake. But the Master Persuader filter only cares about the reflexive associations you make in your mind. And on the reflex level, schlongs are a base-clearing home run.
4. Schlongs also make you think of Bill Clinton and how hard Hillary must have tried to get a lock on his schlong. That doesn’t help her.I do not know all that hypnosis stuff. But I do know the media stuff (and everyone does; it is easy). Trump plays the media like Casals played the cello -- he just strings them along. Every time they think they got him, he gets them. To many people, the political media in America has become a cartoon villain, which by default makes Donald Trump a superhero.
Scott Adams sees the tumblers falling into place and unlocking the future. It does not matter if you like that future or not. It is what it is, and he is who he is. He got the presidential race right in 2015. He alone. That makes him Pundit of the Year.