Friday, March 04, 2016


David Brooks thinks that Donald Trump's fans will be motivated to abandon him once they hear enough stories about his scams, particularly Trump University:
He seduces people with his confidence and his promises. People invest time, love and money in him. But in the end he cares only about himself. He betrays those who trust him and leaves them high and dry.

... this is a message that can sway potential Trump supporters, many of whom have only the barest information on what Trump’s life and career have actually been like.

This is a message that can work in a sour and cynical time among voters who already feel betrayed. This is a message that can work because it’s a personality type everyone understands. This is a time when it is not in fact too late, when it may still be possible to prevent his nomination.

The campaign against Trump has to be specific and relentless: a series of clear examples, rolled out day upon day with the same message. Donald Trump betrays.

It can start with Trump University, where Trump betrayed schoolteachers and others who dreamed of building a better life for themselves.
I think it will be hard to persuade his admirers to care, the same way it's hard to convict star athletes of domestic violence or sexual assault. Like those athletes, Trump is a hero to his voter base. Under those circumstances, the just world theory kicks in:
The need to see victims as the recipients of their just deserts can be explained by what psychologists call the Just World Hypothesis. According to the hypothesis, people have a strong desire or need to believe that the world is an orderly, predictable, and just place, where people get what they deserve.
Voters who didn't like Mitt Romney believed he screwed workers when he was at Bain Capital, but his own voters never did -- even the ones who didn't like him very much cheered him on as an upright capitalist and job creator, someone who might have presided over job losses, but only because you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs. Similarly, I assume Trump's backers are going to rationalize the problems at Trump University by concluding that there's something wrong with the students who are suing -- either they failed to take in the extremely useful information they were taught or they're just a bunch of malcontents and whiners who are looking for a free lunch.

No, that's not rational, but I can't imagine another reaction from Trump's base. He's leading a cult, and it's extremely difficult for cult members to believe bad things about their leader. The negative stories about Trump that are being spread now will limit the growth of his base, I suspect, but they're not going to disillusion more than a tiny handful of the faithful. The faithful will continue to believe that every terrible-sounding allegation against Trump must have a rational explanation.


Jeff Ryan said...

The point isn't to strip existing supporters from Trump (though there will be a bit of that). The point is, as Josh Marshall suggests, to impose a ceiling. Right now, it seems doubtful that a majority of actual voters will vote for Trump. Emphasis on his scammy deals, his numerous business failures, and outright fraud like Trump U. may cauterize the wound and stop the bleeding. I don't give a toss if his current followers aren't dissuaded from supporting him. It takes a special kind of person to vote for this boob in the first place, the kind of person I don't want to sit next to on a plane or anywhere else, thank you. So let's stop the infection before it spreads.

Unknown said...

A. David Brooks, along with the entire conservative pundit parade, have never met any of the Angry White Guys who are Trump's hard core supporters.
B. David Brooks, along with the entire conservative pundit parade, have no reason whatsoever to be angry: they get to be both wrong and stupid consistently. And receive 6 & 7 figure salaries for it.

if A and B then C

C. It is an utter waste of time to pay attention to anything that David Brooks, and the entire conservative pundit parade, have to say on this topic, or any topic (other than, perhaps, the merits of a '78 Lafite Rothschild.)

Feud Turgidson said...

Unk, I recognize the GOP some time ago ceased "growing" Brooksies, so increasinlyg it's capped by the limits to its capacity to "grow angry white guys" (per L. Graham, who I believe we can all agree has seen his share of angry white ones). We should avoid confusing the decreasing influence of Old Fogeyism with the total lack of it. The real question is how strong in the GOP ranks is the Grim Reaper of political revolution - to wit, THE Grim Reaper:

GOP fogies are old - older than ever: OLD old. So old, they lost critical control of their own party's horse and buggy op (by 2012). So old they've had trouble falling into line in recent years: their 2014 "victory" owed most to a comically-exaggerated version of pervasive societal meh-ism. So old, its peak's beak is dipping in dead.

Death's a sneaky bastard. It only comes once to each of us, so nature endows each with the capacity to marginalize it, as a Black Swan. But it's not a possibilty: it's actually COMIN' for us, TOO strong to beat.

I'm with Jeff Ryan (& by extension Josh M., who's done his BEST EVUH work this cycle; we're in Peak Josh), so I won't belabor this: the ceiling is real, & Trump U is among the best measures of where it's at. Steve M. isn't wrong, but his rightness is mostly on the RESILIENCY of the volume below that ceiling, whereas Ryan (& Marshall, & me) are all about how "little" "tiny" short" and "small" is that volume.

So: how big is the volume of Trump U-immune pro-Trumpism anyway? And does the very fact this Question is defined well enough to yield an answer tell us anything useful about a) the GOP nom or b) the general?

Trumpism what it's been: its hard core hovers below the rate of persistent adult debilitating mental illness,10-12%,. +/- ~5%, which includes a big swath too gone beyond participation. But even at a quarter of that rate, if it shows up in a given GOP primary, it works to secure plurality. And under these Tea-infused rules, it works on the GOP like Kryptonite on Kent.

And that quarter of crazy, WITHIN the context of the GOP primary season, works more like a FLOOR than a ceiling: at a few most volatile and vulnerable spots in the GOP's primary dike system, it can even bump up above plurality, into bare majority.

IMO it's too late for the GOP establishment to save itself from Drumpf as its nom. It's actually now a SMART move for Drumpf to dump CPAC this weekend - something that heretofore has been heresy. Let the CPAC dinos mill about like furries, no longer capable of screwing anyone but each other.

But despite the wide, broad (not particularly deep) Brooksian and other disgust, will the base show up in the general, like "always"?

What's this "always" you speak of? It didn't show up in 2012, or even in 2014 (when NO one did). It's last romp was 2010; it's weaker now than at any time since the mid-1970s, at least.

Yet, is the Obama coalition strong enough to deliver the election for HRC? I mean, I STILL think she and Bill bring value to this, in First Woman POTUS and First Big Dog. But who I think will prove key here is Big O - planning on staying in DC several more years at least, spending Q time with the likes of Podesta, very possibly morphing into the next Podesta ("now with POTUS: New, Improved Organizer in Chief).

The envelope, please ... and the winner is: Citizen Obama.

retiredeng said...

I've seen numerous interviews with typical Trump supporters taken at his rallies. They are bog stupid racists. I actually wonder if they can manage a voting booth.

finefroghair said...

it's Bernie Sanders
not Colonel Sanders
you blathering buffoon
he doesn't cook chickens
he calls them out
plucks their feathers
their lies naked
to the world
it's beautiful really
a campaign symphony
roiling for change
this symphony
needs a chorus
if everyone could just
Feel the Bern!!

are you worried
possibly terrified
flutter in your gut
fear in the distance
bearing down
bereft of soul
covered in hair
beseech your heavens
pray to god in vain
decency asunder
normalcy laid to rest
democracy is messy
this is a shit storm
for your consideration
I give You, Donald Trump!

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Lucia said...

Steve hints at a big reason Trump supporters won't be swayed by true tales of his perfidy: cognitive dissonance and the need to be right. There was a book out on this late in the GW Bush administration called Mistakes Were Made (but not by me). Basically, all of us want to be smart and right and good, so we're prey to confirmation bias and to dismissing any evidence that disproves our preconceived ideas. This is how police investigating a crime, having settled on a suspect, can pursue the case even if exculpatory evidence turns up. The stronger the evidence, the harder some people will push against it.

This is also why the GOP establishment/elite doesn't seem to have a clue where Trump came from or why he's so hard to stop. They're not racist or xenophobic or bellicose; they wouldn't pander to the worst instincts of their base. Only Trump would do that. At the same time, they're not disavowing his attitudes; they only care that his stating them baldly may make him unelectable. I wonder what it would take for them to look in the mirror and see Trump.

Blackstone said...

The point is not to reach all of the short fingered vulgarian's voters - just some - preferably after he have secured he GOP nomination. I have no idea how this plays out. The last time the immediate preceding party's standard bearer trashed the party's current standard bearer was Teddy Roosevelt calling out Taft. The short fingered vulgarian is not the nominee yet, but is the likely nominee at this point. So historically this yuuuuuuge.

Thrown in the defection of the GOP national security establishment and what we are seeing is akin to animals sensing an earthquake. We mostly survive earthquakes and the GOP could as well, damage is being done. Thank you short fingered vulgarian.

trnc said...

Agree with Jeff, Blackstone, et al. Trying to convince current Trump supporters not to vote for him is a fool's errand. All we can do is point out facts and hope that anyone on the fence runs away from him.

Re: the "Trump's Game" article, Ii's easy to get idiots like Rubio and Cruz to participate in the mudfight because they don't have actual policy to argue that's any different from each others'. I expect it to be a different story if Trump faces off with Hillary. As we've seen, she knows exactly how to respond to republicans who lose their shit around her. She may not even have very good answers about her own paid speeches (although I expect something along the lines of "When do we get to see transcripts of your 1.5 million $ speeches?), but I doubt she'll start screaming out dick jokes.