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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Art of The Donald

With the exception of trolls, readers understand President Donald John Trump intuitively, so let me explain what you know and why.

President Trump planned his entry into politics decades ago. President Reagan sensed this when the two met.

President Reagan was a role model. Like Eisenhower and Grant, Reagan made his mark outside of politics. This was what Trump chose to do. Over the decades, Trump honed his skills as an executive and as a negotiator, while also building his brand and his celebrity.

1. The first rule in the Art of The Donald is to know the opponent's strengths and weaknesses.

Thomas Wictor said that in retrospect, Donald Trump spent the first Republican presidential debate sizing up his opponents. Other candidates hire experts to scout the competition. Other candidates have coaches. Other candidates practice the debate. Trump decided not to be those other candidates. He was outside the crowd.

Trump saw Jeb Bush was low energy. From socializing with the Clintons, Trump knew Hilary was a lush, hence the questions about her health, which ended when she showed up drunk at the 9/11 commemoration.

2. Know your soldiers.

President Trump's bond with the working class was not overnight. He spent decades cultivating that bond. His most brilliant move in this direction was doing McDonald's commercials in the 1980s. He still eats Big Macs. And taco bowls. And KFC with a fork and a knife.

His rallies strengthened that bond. He was the TV star who entertained people. Imagine seeing Seinfeld or Jeff Dunham for free. That's why people waited and will  wait for hours in inclement weather to see him.

3. There is no such thing as bad publicity.

People think writer Graydon Carter calling Donald Trump a "small-fingered vulgarian" bothered Trump. Maybe it did, maybe it did not. But Trump has darned well made sure everyone heard it by complaining about it.

To this day, Carter has not figured out this backfired. But in three words and a hyphen, Carter branded his critics as snoots who feign refinement while being coarse and hitting below the belt.

4. Be pleasant in public.

Donald Trump has spent his adulthood schmoozing with people he did not particularly like. He knows to be careful humiliating people. His detractors should try that sometime.

5. Turn the disadvantage into an advantage.

The best example is the trade negotiation with Red China. The Chinese would seem to have an advantage, what with the $375 billion-a-year trade imbalance between the two countries running in Red China's favor, But Trump realized that if we cut off trade with Red China, it would suffer more than we would.

6. Distract to the point where the adversary cannot figure you out, or your plans.

Vanity Fair thought this story last November made President Trump look bad: "North Korea Can't Figure Out If Trump Is Actually Crazy." Eight months later, Kim Jong Un was in Singapore surrendering his nukes.

7. Figure out what the other guy wants, and give it to him.

The press by and large does not understand this. The usually astute CNBC reported, "President Donald Trump's willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may not benefit Washington, according to experts. The rogue state has yet to make any progress on disarmament, so a meeting may enhance the pariah state's legitimacy and enable Kim to win concessions."

If merely holding a summit gets Kim to demolish his nuke testing facility (which he did) and dismantle his missile program (which he later did), shame on Obama for not meeting with Kim.

8. Know the rules.

President Trump understood the Electoral College. Hillary did not. The proof is in who went to Wisconsin. By the way, in 2008, Hillary made the mistake of thinking California was still a winner-take-all primary. That had ended in 1976.

The Art of the Donald is simple, perhaps too simple for sophisticated minds.

Like Graydon Carter's.


Replying to 
Don I love your analysis. One thing is missing. I grew up in rural PA -not far from NY. Many who live in NY are brought up to take verbal abuse and dish it right back at a higher level. Trump revels in the press trying to dish it out and can’t take the comeback. They are weak


  1. The Art of The Donald, your next book?


  2. The wife exclaimed this morning that Mr. T shouldn’t run again because he will face four more years of attacks and abuse. Personally, I said, I think he likes it. He’s not a doubter, and he even watches the very news that savages him! Self confidence born of experience. The core of Obama was a message that said this country and its citizens were a bunch of shitbags. The People didn’t want no more of that.

    1. Early on he said, "I like the back and forth. And I guess I always have." Trump knows he can hold his own with anybody.

    2. Point out to your wife that Trump is the only person, who in the Presidency, seems to grow stronger, younger looking.

      That's not a sign of someone under siege, but rather someone who is in control of the game.

  3. I don't think DJT went to Wisconsin during the campaign; he was more clever than that. He went to Minneapolis because it's practically on the border with WI (the Mississippi River) and TV coverage in Minny gets broadcasted all over western and southern WI. He almost picked up Minnesota as well.


  4. An observation about Ronaldus Magnus and DJT. These are tbe only presidents in my memory who actually were responsible for negotiations and who negotiated. RR as president of the Screen Actors Guild and DJT as a businessman. That experience tells.

    No one but RR or DJT would have walked away from Gorbachev in Rekyavijk.

    1. Second that. I've also thought that DJT was building on or finishing Reagan's work. America has been waiting for more than 30 years for border security.

    2. Most politicians and everyone in the media think that if a negotiation doesn't end in an agreement - any agreement - it is a failure. True negotiators know about BATNA and have determined theirs going in.

    3. Indeed. Modern day diplomacy pre-DJT involved speaking for the sole purpose of arranging to speak more and success is judged not ny tangible results, bug whether the adversary will continue speaking. Diplomats justify their existence by pointing to ongoing negotiations.

      RR and DJT well knew that that was, to put it mildly, fatuous. But, of coudse, more speaking means more travelling and more money for bureaucrats. No more.

  5. Dude, I think you have something there.

  6. And that is why this master of people skills will be rolling up the swamp and the Russian collusionists after Labor Day and in time for the November elections.

    1. That's one "October Surprise" I'm sure looking forward to!

  7. I was just listening to the Econtalk Podcast with Psychologist Charlan Nemeth of the University of California, Berkeley and author of In Defense of Troublemakers.

    Nemeth and host Russ Roberts discuss group think and the fact that "Devil's Advocate" doesn't really move the needle in discussion. To convince you have to offer a disfavored view and be willing to weather the abuse. Stand alone, be attacked, but later, people tend to incorporate at least some of the "unconscionable" view into their own thinking, without noticing.

    Nemeth offers "fake news" up as an example of developing group think, without realizing that Trump calling fake news is causing people to think about the news, what is presented, it's relative value, etc. Exactly how you break group think.

    And who more than Trump is demonstrated to offer an opposing view (at least opposing the zeitgeist) and weather the abuse thrown at him. But in the end, he moves the needle, forces discussion, causes people to really think. All those produce better decisions in the long run.

    I firmly believe a lot of what Trump does is to force the debate into the open instead of letting the current in-thinking prevail. Then he adapts to the new, and improved, consensus. A consensus, that to the angst of 'elites' includes the thoughts of the average citizens.

  8. Watching President Trump is like watching a chess master. He sits there and ignores the obvious move and looks for the clandestine one. Why? The obvious move is also obvious to his opponent who is spending his time planning a counter attack then, when the obvious does not happen, he is stuck looking for a solution to a problem he didn't know was coming.
    The biggest problem though for the left is President Trump is mature. They, OTOH are NOT.
    Most politicians can be bought with a few dollars. How can you buy D.J. Trump? The man has given up more in taking the presidency than any one could possible give him in return for a favor.

  9. The Dems won’t win the 2020 election because they are, and by then will be, still fighting the 2016 election.

    It’s like Rommel trying to throw the beachheads at Normandy back into the sea based on the campaign in the Western Desert.

  10. One thing I love about him is that he doesn't just have successful strategies for dealing with really bad people, he teaches the rest of us his strategies, every single day.