According to the press, Donald Trump had a bad week. If the game we are playing is two-dimensional politics, they are 100% right.
But what if the game is three-dimensional politics? The third dimension is emotion and persuasion, not reason. Let’s see how Trump did in the third dimension.
Here I pause to remind new readers that I am reporting on Trump’s skills as a Master Persuader. I am not endorsing him, or anyone else. I am not smart enough to know who would be the best president. All the candidates look qualified to me, albeit in different ways.
Trump’s notable “mistakes” this week – in the 2D realm of politics – are as follows:
1. Trump claims he saw “thousands” of Islamic celebrants in New Jersey on 9/11. The press has labelled that untrue. They are less unanimous on why he is making the claim. Is it a political lie with racial motives, a simple mistaken memory combined with his strategy of never apologizing, or something more along the lines of crazy?
2. Trump mocked an enemy reporter who has a physical disability. In the video, Trump does a sarcastic physical impression of the man that is hilarious to anyone with a sick sense of humor but appalling to anyone who has the least bit of respect for humankind. Personally, I’m in that second group, and I advise you to pretend you’re in it too.
In the world of two-dimensional chess, either one of these recent “mistakes” would end a candidate’s chances. But as we have learned, Trump keeps using some sort of secret sauce to escape that fate, time and time again. Can he do it this time?
Here’s my analysis and prediction, using the Master Persuader filter that says all that matters is how our subconscious receives messages. Reason and logic are illusions in our decision-making. In the third dimension, where emotion is the music, Donald Trump is the orchestra conductor. Or he has been so far.
On Trump’s claims of “thousands” of Islamic celebrants in New Jersey on 9/11, your rational 2D political mind is shouting “Iiar!” But you probably also believe – based on the size of the population of the United States – that there were indeed thousands of Islamic observers spread out across the country who were a little bit happy to see America get kicked in the teeth. The details of Trump’s claim are unlikely to be exactly true – just like most of what you hear on the campaign trail – but in some statistical sense it sounds like it is probably true-ish. Realistically, thousands of people probably celebrate the wrong things every day. If you put 300 million people on the same landmass, you get thousands of examples of just about any offensive behavior you can think of.
So Trump’s lie has the curious quality of registering as true, according to your general statistical sense of things. And you tell yourself this guy is probably going to be the strongest defense against that specific threat.
In summary, ISIS and the press have created an Islamic monster under the bed in the minds of the American public. Thanks to Trump’s enemies in the press, the public is spring-loaded to look for the strongest leader to oppose the strongest (perceived) threat which is ISIS. Advantage: Trump.
On Trump’s mocking of the reporter with a disability, that probably crossed the line of appropriate presidential behavior according to nearly every observer. But in one week you’ll remember that Trump is similarly unkind about the physicality of all the other candidates as well. He called Rubio sweaty, Rand Paul unattractive, and Fiorina stern-faced. And you will also remember that Trump is the recipient of more physical insults than any human in the history of the universe.
Don’t believe me? I’m fairly sure his bad hairstyle is a side-effect of some balding and a combover. We can say we’re mocking his choice of hairstyle, but on some level we’re all making fun of his hair loss. I have been part of that mocking.
And we know that people with hair have more social and economic advantages than people with baldness. We don’t call unattractiveness a disability, but only because it would make things worse for that group, including me.
So here’s the interesting thing. Can you criticize Trump for mocking the reporter’s physical imperfection while simultaneously mocking Trump for hair loss? The press is telling us we should hate Trump for being so cruel. But your subconscious just told you that he is a lot like you – sort of an asshole. (Your mileage may vary. I’m speaking about the public in general.)
I don’t think Trump planned any of the problems of this week, by the way. None of this was a master strategy sort of thing. But my prediction is that he shakes it off because his "mistakes” live in the 2D world of politics and we only pretend to care about that dimension. Trump would not be dominating the Republican field if we did. And on the third dimension, Trump continued to dominate.
I predict that Trump’s poll numbers will stay strong, give or take some temporary dips.
I remind you that the Master Persuader filter is not intended replace whatever truth you have picked as your reality. I present it for entertainment and to see how well it predicts events compared to the 2D reporting everywhere else.
As a matter of record, the style of mocking Trump used on the reporter (including the hand gestures) has a long history in the mocker’s toolbox. I’ve been on the receiving end more than I should admit. It inspired this comic strip and at least one other with the “fuh fuh fuh” theme.
True story: Dilbert comics have been used in court cases to establish the date something was “common knowledge,” as in “The accused should have known by then that the Year 2000 bug was coming because it was even mentioned in a Dilbert comic…”