Love him or loathe him the one thing everyone agrees on is that The Donald is different.
Many make the mistake of thinking he is a new kind of politician. We are told he is a media politician, the politician as celebrity, a politician for the internet age, etc. He is all these things, but more fundamentally he is a throwback. Alone amongst modern politicians he fights back. He is at one with politicians of earlier more robust eras.
Previous American presidents have been noted for plain speech. John Quincy Adams described Thomas Jefferson as: “A slur upon the moral government of the world.” Assistant Secretary of the Navy Teddy Roosevelt described President William McKinley as having, “No more backbone than a chocolate éclair.”
British politicians have a laudable record of saying it like it is. Disraeli said of his principal opponent,”If Gladstone fell into the Thames, that would be a misfortune. If anybody pulled him out, that, I suppose, would be a calamity”. Even in more recent times punches were not always pulled. One-time MP Jonathan Aitken said of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: “She probably thinks Sinai is the plural of sinus”.
Perhaps the neatest insult of all comes from Israel. Golda Meir crushed former Defense Minister Moshe Dayan with, “Don’t be so humble, you’re not that great.”
Sadly, we live in a day when politicians, especially on the Right, are afraid to say what they think. Following any remotely controversial statement there are immediate howls of outrage and demands for an apology, and today’s politicians rush to abase themselves and grovel.
The historical apology plumbs the depths. A politician with no responsibility for a long past incident apologises to those who have never borne the consequences. This fools no one. The oleaginous Tony Blair apologising for the Irish potato famine was as convincing as an email from a Nigerian prince.
With Trump what you see is what you get, especially in his dealings with the media. The media dishes it out in grotesque fashion. Trump is a fascist, Islamophobic, racist, liar, thug, deranged man-child; he is “literally Hitler”, and these are just some of the printable insults.
Trump’s wife has been called a “whore” by leftists waving signs saying “Rape Melania”. Trump’s bloody and severed head has been displayed as a “joke” on television. His 10-year-old son has been called a rapist and autistic and a homeschool shooter. Nevertheless the Left continues claiming the moral high ground while complaining about Trump’s use of language.
Trump takes the advice of his predecessor. Barack Obama famously said , “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun”. Which is just what Trump does. He calls them out for fake news, he Tweets videos slamming CNN, he goes out of his way to annoy them.
What did they expect? Trump is a New York bruiser who made and lost and made again his various fortunes in the cut-throat world of American real estate development. He didn’t do this by studying books on etiquette. Trump has always been a bare knuckle, boorish kind of guy. Did they really expect him to change and play by garden party rules? Actually that is just what they did expect, and what Trump refuses to do.
People say Trump does not play by the rules. This is only partly true. Trump does not play by the Right’s rules of civility and even tempered, reasoned response. He does, however, play by the Left’s rules.
Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, the tactics manual of the radical Left outlines 13 rules to disrupt the opposition. They are employed by everyone on the Left from BLM to Barrack Obama. Now Trump is employing some of them.
Rule 3 “Wherever possible go outside the experience of the enemy. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat”. The progressive establishment are just not used to being called out and disparaged. They expect everyone to take them as seriously as they take themselves and they can’t handle it when someone disrupts their narrative. As Cpl Jones tells us ‘They don’t like it up ‘em’.
Rule 6 “A good tactic is one that your people enjoy”.Trump may not have built the Wall but he keeps his constituency onside by making them laugh.
Rule 8 “Keep the pressure on”. He just doesn’t stop, Trump is the Energiser Bunny of political invective. When he has CNN on the ropes he doesn’t go to a neutral corner, he piles in again with a body slam.
Rule 13 “Pick the target, freeze it, personalise it, and polarise it”. He has picked the fake media as his target and personalised it in his confrontation with CNN. They have become so obsessed with Trump re-tweeting a silly meme that they are unable to realise that everyone else is laughing at them. They have now become the butt of a hundred further memes and it is difficult to take CNN seriously any more.
Progressives are unable to apply Alinky’s Rule 4 “Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules”.Trump ignores the accepted rules of the establishment and fights back relentlessly. They throw everything they can at him, expend their energies, use their time, and have no impact. Trump sits back and uses their own media tools against them. He sends a few tweets, progressives are enraged, and the rest of us are amused.
We may not be used to seeing the leader of the free world behave like this, but it’s effective.
(Image: Gage Skidmore)