Trump the “master persuader”; but persuading to what?
|Scott Adams, creator of "Dilbert" cartoon and analyst of|
Here he is talking to Dave Rubin and predicting a win for Trump (by a "landslide", which it really wasn't*); here he is talking to Joe Rogan and to Sam Harris, all essentially the same story: how he, Adams, apart from having invented "Dilbert" -- which made him rich, is still going and is an amusing story of how he made it successful -- apart from that he is a qualified hypnotist and student of persuasion (persuasion being a key skill of the hypnotist). I enjoyed these talks. And I've enjoyed watching Scott ever since, on his daily Periscope talks. He's fun, amusing, witty, intelligent, often with a unique take on issues of the day.
But I remain to be convinced of his signature claim about Trump: that he's a "master persuader".
Adams says he recognised early on Trump's ability as a master persuader. And before mocking that concept, it's well worth listening to one of the videos linked above. He makes a strong case.
I don't think, by the way, that Adamis is a natural Trump supporter -- he is very liberal in many areas that Trump is not. Rather he's an "explainer" of Trump and why he won. He enjoys Trump, his sense of humour, his turning things upside down in America and the world. But a supporter? I'm not sure. He says he didn't vote for Trump, as he is, by inclination (Scott, that is) a classic liberal and a libertarian.
Anyway, I've enjoyed listening to his case for Trump the persuader.
But in the end, I don't really buy it. After all, it's one thing to persuade enough people to vote for him, by a combination of cunning and subterfuge (which is what it amounts to). It's another thing to persuade members of Congress -- the majority of whom are from your own Party! -- to pass laws that you told your adoring public you would. And if he can't do that, even with his own party members, that counts as not much of a persuader, in my books. At least not a persuader in the area that really matters.
Even allowing -- which I don't -- the concept that he is indeed a "master persuader", then one could and should make the obvious point that there have been plenty of master persuaders in world history and they haven't always persuaded people to do good things. Stalin, Mao, Pot Pot, come to mind, let alone the amusingly mustachioed Austrian, whose name we daren't mention for fear of being accused of having broken (or proven?) Godwin's Law.
So, a quick review of what Trump "persuaded" his followers were good ideas, with my severely curtailed comments in purple:
- Pull out of the TPP. Bad idea; gives China strategic advantage
- Obamacare, repeal and replace. Nothing happening. Also: bad idea, better to improve it.
- Gorsuch. Good only if you're in favour of conservative judges.
- Tax reform. Nothing happening. Failure of persuasion
- Build a Wall. Bad idea; useless
- Pull out of Paris climate accord. Probably bad idea
- Muslim ban. Bad idea and useless.
- North Korea. A curate's egg. No advance
- ISIS. Yes, some good marks on this one, for having them on the run
I'd not convinced that Trump is a persuader, let alone a master one.
Even if he is a great persuader, most of the ideas he persuaded people to vote him in for, are bad or useless...
Still! I'm not for the hysteria of many on the left about Trump. I'm more like Ann Althouse, who says she neither loves Trump nor hates him (which binary is the current Rep/Dem split, by and large).
And in the meantime, yes, he's amusing. Think of what things would be like with Hillary.
Well, yes, do think about that. More boring, for sure, but more constructive likely too.
* Trump's win was not a landslide. In the electoral college, his win margin is 46th out of 56 elections.
In the popular vote, he lost by the largest margin, by a long way, of any president who won the election. Six times more than George W!Adams says Trump won in "the only vote that matters" -- the electoral college. Sure, but.... Clearly Trump himself was upset by his popular vote loss, as he kept banging on about it after the election -- "voter fraud" and so forth...