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Strategic Ambiguity (Master Persuasion Series) - Scott Adams' Blog

Strategic Ambiguity (Master Persuasion Series)

If you have been watching the news lately you know that Donald Trump disavowed the endorsement of racist David Duke. Unless you are watching CNN, in which case, their version of the news is that he didn’t do enough disavowing that one time.

If you’re a racist, you have a reason to like Trump because of CNN’s intentional misreporting and the fact that Trump didn’t do enough disavowing that one time. If you’re not a racist, you can like Trump because he disavowed racists several times, in writing and on video. 

That’s strategic ambiguity.

If you hate socialized healthcare, you might like Trump, because he hates socialized medicine too. Except that he also says he won’t let people with no money “die on the streets.” So if you like socialized medicine, you might like giving free healthcare to those people, like Trump.

That’s strategic ambiguity.

If you hate illegal immigrants, you might like Trump because he says he will deport every one of them. But if you feel compassion for illegal immigrants who are otherwise good residents of the country, you know Trump always makes a big first offer and will later negotiate to something humane and reasonable.

That’s strategic ambiguity.

If you oppose war, you might like Trump because he opposed the Iraq war and has a history of being reluctant to commit U.S. forces overseas. But if you think the U.S. should keep bombing other countries, Trump might be your candidate because he wants to bomb the shit out of ISIS and maybe kill some of their families too.

That’s strategic ambiguity.

If you want a religious president, Trump can give you that. He has belonged to a church since youth and says the Bible is a great book. But if you don’t like mixing religion and politics, Trump might be your candidate because he hasn’t made a big deal about religion.

That’s strategic ambiguity.

I could go on like this for another hour or so, but I think you get the picture. And when you see the pattern, you realize none of it is by accident. Trump intentionally gives opposing sides reasons to like him, or at least not disqualify him. And as ridiculous as it seems for a strategy, it works like a charm because of confirmation bias. People see whatever they want to see. 

You might be aware that I have been saying good things about Donald Trump’s persuasion skills for months. This has led many people to believe I endorse Trump for president.

But earlier this week I disavowed Trump for his strategic ambiguity on racism. So if you hate Trump, you can be okay with me because I disavowed him. And if you love Trump you can be okay with me because I say good things about his talent on a regular basis. 

That’s strategic ambiguity.

Now you know why I disavowed Trump for not disavowing racism hard enough that one time even though he clearly disavowed it before and after the time he did not disavow it so clearly.

The facts were never important to me. I ignored the facts publicly and shamelessly because doing so provided me the best possible outcome: strategic ambiguity.

If Trump wins big today for Super Tuesday, as polls predict, I will be one of the few pundits who saw it coming last year. And if Trump stumbles, today or soon, I already removed myself from the splatter zone by disavowing him. 

Joe Scarborough made the same play that I did, presumably for the same reason. Scarborough had been labelled as too supportive of Trump because – like me – he recognized Trump’s persuasion talent before most of the herd. So Scarborough fixed his problem the same way I did, with some strategic ambiguity. Now you’re not so sure which side he is on, if any.

It is noteworthy that two people who saw Trump’s persuasion skills early (Scarborough and me) both took the same strategy and opportunity to generate strategic ambiguity for ourselves.

I haven’t watched Scarborough enough to know if he has Master Persuader skills, but I’ve got my eye on him now.

Today will be fun. I might be on Periscope later tonight watching the primary results if you want to say hi.