…at about this time last year there was exactly one pundit, anywhere in the US or elsewhere, that predicted Donald Trump would win the GOP nomination; heck, I know of only one who predicted Trump would make it past Christmas.
He also happens to be one of America’s painfully-few business writers who are worth reading; Scott Adams, cartoonist and creator of Dilbert.
He was also pretty much alone, last spring, in predicting Trump would win the presidency. And like all predictions, that one is still very much a long shot.
And as little as I’ve personally ever cared for Trump’s public persona, Adams explains something about The Donald that I do get, and that most of our media and chattering classes are too myopic to understand:
5. Pacing and Leading: Trump always takes the extreme position on matters of safety and security for the country, even if those positions are unconstitutional, impractical, evil, or something that the military would refuse to do. Normal people see this as a dangerous situation. Trained persuaders like me see this as something called pacing and leading. Trump “paces” the public – meaning he matches them in their emotional state, and then some. He does that with his extreme responses on immigration, fighting ISIS, stop-and-frisk, etc. Once Trump has established himself as the biggest bad-ass on the topic, he is free to “lead,” which we see him do by softening his deportation stand, limiting his stop-and-frisk comment to Chicago, reversing his first answer on penalties for abortion, and so on. If you are not trained in persuasion, Trump look scary. If you understand pacing and leading, you might see him as the safest candidate who has ever gotten this close to the presidency. That’s how I see him.
So when Clinton supporters ask me how I could support a “fascist,” the answer is that he isn’t one. Clinton’s team, with the help of Godzilla, have effectively persuaded the public to see Trump as scary. The persuasion works because Trump’s “pacing” system is not obvious to the public. They see his “first offers” as evidence of evil. They are not. They are technique.
Most pundits have never had to negotiate anything beyond their salary – and that rarely works out well, these days, either. In any case, too many of our chattering class believe that what Obama, Clinton and Kerry did in Iran, North Korea and Ukraine was “negotation”. It was – in the same sense that Rodney King’s interaction with the police was.
I’m still not a fan of Trump’s public persona. I still think his election is a long shot.
But then, like all of the A-through-Y-list pundits above me, I’ve been wrong about everything else, this cycle.