This morning, I spent 45 minutes with the Donald, who was speaking at a rally Worcester last night.
I surfed to CNN after watching a depressing 15 minute BBC Planet Earth piece about a polar bear, who had to swim 60 miles through the artic sea, losing 50% of his body weight, only to find a colony of walruses, where, desperate for food, he attacked a fairly large walrus who got him with his tusks and the polar bear died of his wounds. It was one of those no win, there can be no good outcome stories--either the bear (with whom I had begun to sympathesize) dies or a walrus (who, in his blubbery way is pretty cute) dies.
So, on to CNN, where an equally disturbing show was running: The Donald holding forth in that chirpy, free associating, stream of consciousness thing he does, sounding like a Jewish Grandmother, a sort of Edith Bunker meets Tony Soprano all rolled into one.
Trying to analyze exactly what it is he is doing and why he appeals to that crowd, who clearly enjoy him--you can see them laughing and nodding heads-- I'd love to hear Jill Lepore or George Packer or even a whole New Yorker symposium on Mr. Trump, deconstructing how he achieves his effect.
Here's what I've go so far:
1/ INVOKING "THEM"
He is a master of the "They" demonization technique.
"They" is the bogeyman, the thing with sulfurous smell and talons we do not like, which lives among us. He introduces a few specific anecdotes about murder/rape cases perpetrated by unnamed illegal immigrants--a 60 year old female Army veteran "murdered, raped and sodomized" by an illegal immigrant who had crossed over our border at least 5 times, who stands for all those murderous, illegal immigrants who come to our country and rape and pillage and take your jobs. Now that he has brought "them" down to a specific example, he leaps to the "they" who are simply multiples of that guy who raped the Vet. All of "them" guys.
What the Donald will do is he will send these guys back to Mexico where the Mexicans will throw them into jail. We will not jail them here, because then we would have to support these scum for 40 years in jail and incur all that cost and the Donald knows the art of the deal, so he'll make Mexico pay for these miscreants, not us. Donald will make Mexico do this.
He'll also make Mexico pay for the very tall, beautiful (as beautiful as a wall can be) wall he will build across the 1000 mile border to keep those rapists out. And once we build the wall, they will not come back or simply slip around the sides of the wall into Louisiana or California because...well, because we will be winning.
Exactly HOW the Donald will accomplish all this is left to the imagination of the crowd. Don't ask. Oy.
He will also "bomb the shit" out of ISIS.
He will scare the hell out of "the terrorists"
All of "them."
How exactly he will find ISIS and how he will scare the terrorists, he does not detail. He will simply do it. He will be sure we win this fight with the "them." There will be so much winning we will all be proud of the Donald and we will all be proud of having voted for the Donald, as opposed to being ashamed of having voted for that disaster, Obama.
With me so far?
He will make our military so fearsome "they" will not dare attack us.
Of course, our military is already pretty fearsome, so fearsome in fact terrorists typically do not come out in the open in the streets of Paris or New York in long armored columns and attempt to fight us in the open, but they seem to prefer drive by shootings, concealed suicide vest bombs or taking over airplanes by stealth and surprise and then, when we are least expecting it, attacking using the element of surprise. They also like sneaking bombs into airplanes but they will be too afraid of the Donald and all his winning to try that, once he is President.
All this will end when the Donald is President. Terrorists will not be allowed these sneak attacks, but will have to wear uniforms, announce their intention to attack with sufficient notice and wear orange blaze vests for easy identification and high visibility and we will be winning so much we are all going to get bored with winning.
2/ THE INSULT
Today the Donald alludes to a New York Times article, that scum newspaper, which reported about the trouble Ben Carson's aides have reported, trying to teach Dr. Carson about foreign policy, trying to "make him smart," but he simply has failed to learn this stuff. When I read this story, it did make me wonder if Dr. Carson had retired from surgery because of early Alzheimer's and it apparent caught the Donald's attention, because the Donald hates the media, except when it brings him glad tidings.
He then progressed through most of his rivals, being careful to add "He's a nice guy" or "I like him" or "We get along fine," then slipping in the knife. Rubio has nice hair, but not as good as the Donald's, and he's got the worst voting record in the Senate (not clear if this is worst in quality or worst in quantity or both); Jeb is a loser ("He's done" with a dismissive wave); Hillary doesn't have the energy or the endurance to be President;
Bernie Sanders blamed the Paris killings on global warming (have to Google that one!) and President Obama is simply "a disaster."
He also deals with audience members: When objections are raised, Mr. Trump allows his audience to lift the protesters off the ground and bodily eject them from the auditorium. It looked like scenes from old newsreels where the brownshirts beat and bludgeoned people in the crowd as their hero exhorted the masses from the platform above them. This happened 3 times while I was watching, and the last eruption occurred when Mr. Trump criticized Food Stamps and then, which apparently provoked someone in the audience, and watching the protester carried off he observed, "Isn't it significant that this guy objects to Food Stamps and he is, himself, seriously overweight."
Not sure, but I guess the connection was food and obesity, or something.
Given the number of seriously overweight supporters in the crowd, I thought this was risky ground on which to tread for the Donald, who, it must be admitted, has some serious overweight issues of his own, but he is fearless--that much we must admit.
The media will report Trump interrupted by protesters, the Donald says, when it was only 3 people out of 12,000 but that's the way the scum media will report it.
3/ THE BRAG
More than half his time is devoted to extolling his own success and status. I think the point is, I've done so well in business, you know I'm a superior human being who is a winner and I'll be just as good at being a President and we will win together. Or something. We were treated to tales about his financial statements for the Election Commission which showed he was worth even more than people thought, to his fabulous success on Saturday Night Live, to the worth of various buildings he owns and property from the West Coast to the Potomac to New York City, to the $240 million dollars he made from the TV show, "The Apprentice" which they all begged him to continue but he declined saying he wanted to run for President. Then he segued into a riff about how he could have made more money on TV but he sacrificed all that because he knew he had to run for President, and it just about killed all his partners from the TV show, but the Donald had to be bigger than that, bigger than money, and rescue the country.
4/ THE JEREMIAD
And Oy! The world is going to Hell in a Handbasket. We've got to do something, like elect me, for instance. Obamacare is a disaster. The premiums have gone sky high and the deductibles are so high nobody ever even gets the insurance to pay for anything and it's going to bankrupt the nation, and bankruptcy is something the Donald knows about because his companies file for bankruptcy frequently, which is just business, you know, not failure. And the Middle East: they are chopping off heads and we've never seen anything like this in the whole history of the world except maybe the Middle Ages, but never anything like this. Oh, we got trouble in River City!
Whew! It's really fun to watch. I know it may not sound that way, but he is enjoying himself so immensely, it's infectious. Very similar vibe as Rush Limbaugh.
I particularly liked his riff on the Democratic debate. "Well, they call it the Democratic debate, but it's the Democrat debate." Which reminded me of what Howard Cossell once said about Muhammad Ali, who many people persisted in calling Cassius Clay, which Ali referred to as his "slave name." Cossell, whose birth name was Cohen, said, "In America, one of the things we respect is a person's name. We call a person by the name he wants to be called by, not by another." And so the Democrats prefer "Democratic" but the Republicans insist on "Democrat debate" because it sounds somehow worse, especially when you accent the "rat" part.
There is virtually no content here, or as Dorothy Parker would say, "There is no there, there." It's all value ladened words: It's despicable. They are scum. They are not masterminds but low life. The guy says he's pathologic! I've heard they are just disasters. The worst thing that ever happened! It's awful.
One hallmark of an educated person is he generally tries to enhance the credibility of what he says by citing some numbers--which, admittedly are often bogus and lifted from studies which did not actually prove that there has been a 10 year increase in the lifespan of Americans since 1950 or that the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere has rise by 35% over the last century, but at least it's a reference point which can be fact checked. How do you fact check "disaster" or "stupid" or "Oy" ?