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Election Notes (Trump and Stuff)

    In no particular order.

    Trump the Incumbent

    When Trump hosted Saturday Night Live, his opening skit involved a future fantasy with Trump as president doing great things. As regular readers of this blog noted that night, he made you think past the sale. I assume Trump was involved in approving or suggesting that theme. Brilliant persuasion technique. Probably his best move so far.

    In the minds of many, Trump is already running as an incumbent president. He simply seems as if he already has the job. Trump has made you think of him as both the sitting president … and an outsider… at the same time. Hypnotists use this method so the subject will embrace the interpretation with the greatest personal appeal. Do you like Trump for being an outsider, or do you like him as the incumbent president of your imagination? Pick one. 

    Not So Unelectable Trump

    Among the pundit class, Trump’s odds have risen from “impossible” to “maybe.” I still say almost certainly. His odds look better than ever at the moment.

    Carson the Competitor

    What is the best situation for Donald Trump at this stage of the election cycle? I would think his best situation is running neck-and-neck against Ben Carson. That keeps the insiders (Rubio, Cruz, etc.) at bay while giving Trump the most beatable rival when it comes to the final weeks of the nomination run. 

    According to The Daily Beast, Carson claims he cured his prostate cancer with a diet supplement, yet he went ahead and had prostate surgery anyway to serve as a role model. And… the supplement company was paying him to talk about their product.

    You can assume Trump is saving that little beauty for when he needs it. Keep in mind that the biggest criticism of Trump is that he is a snake oil salesman. But he might be running against a doctor who literally sold overhyped supplements for a living. You can’t get a better Trump matchup than that. But Trump will wait to deliver the Carson kill shot until Carson’s strength drives out the stronger competitors. 

    I’m not convinced that the reports about Carson’s claims of prostate “cure” are accurate, given the false reports against him recently. But I haven’t heard this one debunked yet.

    Winner of the Debate

    I picked Cruz as the winner of the debate. He had the best line of the night when he said things would be different if immigration were suppressing the wages of the media instead of blue collar workers. But Cruz’s lawyerly debate excellence is largely lost on the public. I’m not sure anyone cares who has the most coherent arguments. 

    Who I Want to Win

    If Trump wins, I will get some bragging rights for calling it early. But I don’t see it changing my net worth. And people will quickly forget that a blind squirrel found one nut. In the short run, it has been good for web traffic and book sales, but not in a life-changing way.

    If Carson wins, and he gets his 10% tithing tax plan, I would get a major windfall at the expense of the middle class. That might not sound fair to you, but if Carson says God is okay with it, who am I to argue?

    If Cruz wins, I will be directing people to my sequel to God’s Debris, titled The Religion War. The latter book, written in 2004, is set in the future, not far from today, when a Caliphate rises in the Middle East and a hardline conservative leader in the West named Cruz takes control of the fight against them. (Different first name.) In the book, the Caliphate starts sponsoring hobby-sized drone attacks against the United States using sleeper cells. If that happens during a Cruz presidency, it would be good for my book sales. But very bad for the world. That doesn’t seem like a good deal for me.

    Rubio

    I think 2024 will be his time. He is smart to set himself up for it now. That’s all I see happening.

    Who Would Keep Us Safest?

    Carson seems the biggest pacifist of the poll leaders (by personality not policy), and that feels dangerous to me. Would other leaders fear him? The man can’t even win a knife fight against a belt buckle.

    Trump has a history of wanting the United States to stay out of unproductive fights. And he also wants the strongest military. That seems like the safest situation. Trump also owns large buildings that can’t be defended. I don’t see him starting any unnecessary wars. And his famous exaggerations about our military could reduce the risk of other countries getting adventurous.

    The Kinder, Nicer Trump

    A few weeks ago Trump signaled that he planned to improve his likability. He softened his tone and moved to a more presidential demeanor. His SNL appearance helped. And you all saw him wade into a crowd and address the problems of a wounded warrior. The media is noticing. Expect Trump’s “niceness campaign” to work. His poll numbers on that dimension should improve by the end of the month. And folks will stop worrying about him having the nuclear codes. In a month Trump will seem like the only rational player in a field of crazies. (Opposite of what you thought in July.)

    Fiorina’s Decline

    After the second debate, pundits declared Fiorina the winner, and her poll numbers surged. I declared her a loser (using the Master Persuader filter) because she paired her image with that of a dead baby. To me, that was the worst political move of all time. Ever. After the surge, Fiorina’s poll numbers have drifted down, as I predicted.

    Bernie Sanders Surges

    Bernie Sanders looks terrific in national polls against both Trump and Carson. But I suspect some of that strength has to do with Sanders not being Hillary Clinton. Democrats might be sensing desperation by now. They know that Trump would beat Clinton like a rented drum. The matchup is terrible for Clinton; she would do better against a traditional candidate who will argue the issues and not brand her as the Evil Lying Witch of the West.

    I think Sanders would beat Carson in a general election. But so would any other Democrat because of Carson’s prostate “cure” claim. However, if the Democrats run a socialist against the most famous capitalist of all time – and one who wants to tax the hedge funds and corporations more – that looks like a Trump landslide to me.

    New Prediction

    Trump has criticized the Iran deal because we didn’t get our prisoners back. I think candidate Trump will try to get it done before election. 

    Impossible you say?

    All Trump needs to do is take some version of this message to the Iranian leadership via private channels: If you release the hostages now, I’ll go easy on you when I’m president. If not, I will unleash economic Hell on day one and never let up. Now tell me how important those four people are to the Iranian future.

    He wouldn’t be bluffing.

    I don’t predict Trump will try to get back the hostages. But I give him 60% odds of success if he tries. And that is how landslides get made.

    I wrote this book too.

Is it Healthier to be Republican?

    I am not a joiner. But if someone were to ask me which political party they should join, that answer is easy. You should be a Republican, for the health benefits.

    As soon as you join a political group you give up any claim to credibility or independent thinking. Your impulse to agree with your side will be too strong for anyone else to imagine your opinions are well-considered. So your reputation and credibility will be terrible according to everyone on the opposite side plus the independents. No matter which side you join, about 60% of the public will think you are mentally defective. Let’s call that a tie for Republicans versus Democrats.

    You probably want to join the party that is most often “right.” But you need not worry about that because once you join, it will seem as if everything your side does, or ever did, was right. That’s how humans are wired. So we can take “being right” out of the decision. And realistically, your one vote won’t change any policies anyway. You just want to feel good about your participation, and joining any party gives you that.

    So on most dimensions, it does not matter if an individual joins the Republican or Democrat party. But there is one way that it makes a big difference: Stress.

    If you become a Democrat, you have to worry about climate change annihilating humanity on your watch. If you are a Republican, climate change isn’t even a problem. Personally, I rest easier when I am not worried about a super-typhoon killing me during REM sleep.

    Consider economics. If you are a Democrat, you have to balance all sorts of complicated economic theories in your head. That stuff is hard to understand and almost always wrong anyway. But if you are a Republican, all you need to know is that cutting taxes will make us all rich. Both approaches are ridiculous, but only one is easy. So take the easy, stress-free path. Then let the economy heal itself while the government is in gridlock, like always.

    When it comes to bombing strangers in other countries, Democrats have to weigh all sorts of concerns about morality, national defense, relations with allies, economics, and likelihood of success. Republican have it easier here too. Regarding the Middle East, for example, all they have to do is ask themselves two questions:

    1. What does Israel want us to do?

    2. Do we have any bombs left?

    I think you might say Democrats do the same thing. Fair enough. But if you are a Democrat you probably feel stressed about the decision because you must weigh so many factors. Republicans are barbecuing and thinking about football.

    Democrats are always worried about issues of fairness and equal opportunity. For example, workplace gender issues are a huge deal for Democrats. But if you are Republican there is no problem there to fix, except for all the whining. And you can learn to ignore that too.

    On other social issues, things are even easier for Republicans. All they need to do is wait to hear a Democrat propose an idea, then take the opposite side. This works every time because the Democratic Party likes to be proactive on social issues whereas conservative Republicans are more about small government and not changing what works so well (for white males). The fast-disagreer job is way easier than crafting legislation to reverse 300-thousand years of gender discrimination. So take the stress-free route.

    When reading this, you might be tempted to think I identify with Democrats. I don’t. I am just amused at how easy the choice of parties is if you don’t like stress. Science tells us that stress is deadly. Some say stress is already an epidemic because it causes so many other health problems. So if you can reduce your stress, you come out way ahead.

    Your irrational decision-making and your one vote won’t help the country no matter which party you join. But dying from stress is clearly bad. So if you want to be happy and healthy, join the Republican Party. 

    I doubt you can take the politics out of this discussion and focus on the question of health benefits. But please surprise me.

    And no need to tell me that if “everyone took my advice” it would be a catastrophe. I don’t think we have to worry about people taking my advice.

    Scott

    You might also enjoy reading about a 3D printed “brick” that can cool your house. How awesome is that???

    And this company is aiming to reduce poverty with an app that matches digital jobs with people who can work at home. Quite ambitious. I like it!

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