Friday, August 07, 2015


Peter Beinart completely misses the point of Donald Trump's performance at last night's debate:
... last night Trump didn’t even do obnoxious well. The reason, I suspect, is that to debate effectively, even if you’re a goon, you must talk about something other than yourself.

Again and again, the Fox News anchors asked Trump about appalling things he’s said and done. The obvious response would have been to pivot away from those subjects, perhaps by attacking the media for focusing on trivial things, and then slam Mexicans, President Obama and the other candidates -- all the things Republicans love to hear Trump do. But Trump couldn’t do it because he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk about himself.
Really, Peter? You think it's a problem for Trump that he spent an inordinate amount of time talking about himself? Have you ever watched pro wrestling? Or listened to early rap music? Or watched an "I got rich and you can too" infomercial? Or heard a preacher of the prosperity gospel tell you about his material wealth?

In every case, boastfulness isn't some impediment to the audience's appreciation of the boaster. It's a central aspect of the performance.

Beinart goes on to write:
A certain portion of the Republican base loves Trump’s “authenticity.” They like the fact that he says “politically incorrect” (i.e., borderline racist and sexist) things and when challenged by the “liberal” media (which evidently includes Fox News), doesn’t back down. They don’t mind that Trump’s a narcissist so long as his narcissism fuels his outrage at the people they resent.

But too often last night, Trump’s narcissism got in the way of that outrage. If you live by the ego, you can die by it too.
No, no, no, Peter. It's wrong to say that Trump fans "don’t mind that Trump’s a narcissist" -- they savor his narcissism. They don't think it gets in the way of his political outrage -- to them, it's all part of the same package.

When Trump brags about himself, he's telling his fan base that he has clout. When he gets into personal beefs with people -- as he did with Megyn Kelly last night, to Beinart's dismay -- he's telling his fans that he has enough fuck-you money not to have to worry about what someone like Kelly thinks of him. Even when he boasts about using political contributions and the bankruptcy laws to get his way, he's saying that he's a macher who knows how to work a corrupt system to his advantage.

Remember, the subtext of everything he says is: I'm stinking rich. That means I'm smart and I know how to get things done. And I didn't get this way by being shy and retiring, or by running every word I say past a focus group.

Now, you and I know that Trump's career hasn't been as successful as he (incessantly) claims it's been. But the fans think he's had an unbroken string of successes. The reason they think he can fix everything is that he constantly reminds them how rich and successful he is. And it's thrilling to think that a rich, successful guy hates what they hate. It's as if they're joining with him in hate and experiencing the Trump wealth every time he thumps his chest.


mccamj said...

I've been reading for years stories saying that the Donald is not nearly as rich as he says.

I can't wait for it to come out that he really isn't worth 8 billion.

On the other hand, I'm wrong about lots of shit so maybe he is. I just think so much of his appeal is that he is uber rich.

Steve M. said...

Bloomberg says he's worth only $2.9 billion.

Curt Purcell said...

Holy cow, Trump made a menstrual joke about Kelly on CNN, so Erickson angrily disinvited him from RedState, now Erickson's own commenters are calling him (Erickson) pathetic. I think we're really near the point where these people start to eat each other.

When news like this drops, what does Reince Preibus reach for first, Maalox or Maker's Mark?

mlbxxxxxx said...

Trump may have jumped the shark with the apparent reference to Kelly menstruating. It was fun while it lasted and I'm betting he hangs in for a while but I'm guessing we've seen peak Trump. Here's hoping he's got an independent run in him.

Victor said...

His comments about Kelly will only further endear him to the misogynists in his base.

Curt Purcell said...

OMG, the comment thread on the post about this at HotAir is epic--1000+ and counting! You've got Trumpbots attacking Erickson and Ed Morrissey (who came out strongly for Erickson's decision), men attacking women commenters, and even those against Donald can't bring themselves to base that on his misogyny—they're pivoting to the "he praised Canada's single payer" excuse.

mlbxxxxxx said...

@Victor: problem is, he may be running out of dyed-in-the-wool misogynists. It seems like all republicans are mouth breathers but it really is only a vocal minority -- a large minority, but a minority none-the-less. Trump looked like he could break out and go GOP-mainstream. Maybe it's not too late. Fingers crossed.

aimai said...

Beinart's piece is just wishful thinking. Trump will exit the stage when he has had enough of it, and not a moment before.

mlbxxxxxx said...

One thing I really don't understand -- why did Donald's buddies (as I understand it they were his people) leak the Clinton phone call? I see no upside. Maybe somebody else was going to leak it and Donald wanted to preempt and try to control? But I don't see any attempt to control it. Also it had much less of an impact than I would have expected. Except for Carly's jab about it, nobody else even mentioned it, that I remember. Seems odd to me as it seems like it'd be perfect to use to accuse Donald of being phony.

I just think they don't know what to do with Trump. They are scared to death of the Trumpettes and a third party run. They must be thanking Jesus for this latest Trumptastrophe.