So I've changed my mind: Donald Trump is pursuing a rational, intelligent strategy

I had just finished reading why Donald Trump is like Frank Sinatra, which came after getting the scoop on why Donald Trump is a lot like JFK, and was halfway through learning why Donald Trump is like Liberace when I suddenly had an epiphany.

Donald Trump is a lot like Teddy Roosevelt.

Both are from New York. Both worked an impressive variety of jobs before going into politics. Both were married multiple times. And both eventually became President of the United States. But that’s not really what I had in mind.

During the Spanish-American War, Teddy Roosevelt lead his unit, the Rough Riders, in a famous charge up San Juan Hill. Despite their name, the Rough Riders were on foot. Only Teddy was on horseback. When he lead the charge, every defender on that hill was going to be aiming their shots at the one guy on horseback. This allowed most of the foot soldiers to reach the top of the hill alive.

I now believe that Donald Trump employs a similar tactic in the media environment. His primary weapon throughout the campaign was Twitter, and whenever he tweeted something outrageous or nasty, everybody focused on that. They still do. Now that he’s President, he can expand slightly and also use press conferences and interviews and such to grab attention as well, but clearly Twitter is still his main thing.

We may first note that there’s an imbalance of time here. It takes Trump a few seconds to post a Tweet. When he does so, it sends the media into a huge tizzy, with almost every news outlet reporting it, commenting on it, and obsessing over it. This goes through TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and then filters down to blogs and Facebook and everywhere else. So Trump spends a few seconds of his time, and it consumes probably millions of hours of time from other people, mostly those who hate and oppose him.

Meanwhile serious things are afoot in Washington. Confirmation votes for his cabinet are underway, and he has already started issuing executive orders. The Republicans have plans for major legislation to be pushed through as soon as possible. It’s a massive agenda, much of which they are hoping to rush through in a very short time. And a lot of the most important things are getting very little attention in the liberal media, because the liberals are too busy expressing their outrage and indignation about what Trump just tweeted about a Broadway star or a Ms. Universe contestant or whatever the topic du jour is. The analogy should be clear. Trump’s Twitter is like Teddy Roosevelt on the horse, getting all the return fire from the enemy. Cabinet appointees, Congressional Republicans, and their staffs, think tanks, lobbyists and others working behind the scenes are like the Rough Riders, accomplishing things and winning the battle because no one thought to aim at them.

It’s worth noting that one of Trump’s most successful tactics is lying. Right now, the liberal media are busy debunking his claims that illegal immigrants voted in millions and that his inauguration crowd was the largest ever. A month ago he was lying about other things, and a month from now he’ll by lying about something else, and the liberal media will be proudly showing off their intellectual superiority by debunking his lies. By doing so, they play right into his hands, being distracted and distracting their audience from the substantial policies debates that will determine the future of American government.


Trump isn’t diverting attention away from some secret agenda. Calling attention to himself is his agenda.

Trump is throwing away two important assets: personal credibility and presidential mystique. And he’s throwing them away on trivia during his first week on the job. He’s going to need those assets some day and he won’t have them.

Trump is self-destructing faster than I thought he would.

“Never, ever, ever underestimate Trump!”

~Harry Reid

“You can’t win! He will always find a way to outsmart you!”

~Former wife Ivana Trump

I have no idea whether I’m going to wind up happy or pissed off about the things that guy does. But I have no doubt whatsoever that he’s going to be very effective at it.

You’ve posted a very interesting hypothesis that fits pretty well with what other posters are deriding as my saying that he’s playing 4th or 6th or 10th dimensional chess. I’ve said many times before that Donald Trump is rarely doing what he appears to be doing on the surface, and if your theory is correct this would be a perfect example of that.

I think you’re way over thinking it. Similar claims were made about Bush the Younger having a lot going beneath his folksy moron persona, but at the end of the day, there was not much evidence of that.

Regarding, Teddy Roosevelt, he was married twice. His first wife died after two years of marriage, at 22 years old. That’s hardly comparable to Trump’s situation. Also, not to knock on TR’s courage, which was considerable, but if everyone had been aiming at him at San Juan Hill, he would have been killed.

Yeah this Trump is crazy like a fox meme has got to stop. Trump was always going to push through his radical agenda. As President Obama said, “elections have consequences.” Trump is president and resistance to him means limiting the damage he does, but he’s going to be able to do a lot of damage because he’s president and the GOP controls both houses of Congress.

We’re not going to beat Trump on facts, if facts matter he never would have become president. We are going to beat Trump by doing what we are doing: defining his presidency as a failure, painting him accurately as mentally unbalanced and illegitimate and standing on his neck so he doesn’t catch his breath. We need to make sure he stays historically unpopular so that other politicians abandon him and his agenda.

Not much of a meme, really. So far as I know I’m the only one who’s been promoting it. :smiley:

Actually this kind of behavior from the left is a large part of why he got elected. Painting him as a failure and calling him mentally unbalanced, etc., didn’t work before the election so I’m at a loss to understand why you think it’ll work now.

Actually, this is working. Trump has a 45% approval rating, the lowest approval rating for a newly elected president in history. An AP story reports that Trump is complaining that all the negative press is making it impossible for him to “enjoy” the Whitehouse and that he thought the negative press would stop once he took office.

This is a mentally unstable man, keeping pressure up on him makes it likely he will continue with his bizarre behavior, alienate more people and lash out in bizarre ways. At this point we’re not trying to influence him, but local, state and national politicians who will start to abandon him and his agenda to save their own jobs.

ETA: Report: Trump Complains Negative Press Means He Can’t ‘Enjoy’ White House - TPM – Talking Points Memo

Well, time will tell. One thing’s for sure though. It’ll be interesting to see how things play out.

If by interesting, you mean terrifying, I agree. We have a mentally unstable president spinning out of control in his first week in office. I think the GOP is our best hope for the country because I’m hoping that there are a few who still love their country enough to stand up for it and use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Graham and McCain are the best bets to lead the movement, but Trump’s approval ratings have to get low enough that other Republicans feel comfortable enough joining the effort.

That sort of thing is not new, and there’s still no evidence it’s true. It seemed like wishful thinking before, and only seems more like it now.

I get it. It’s just so staggeringly hard to believe he’s as bad as he seems. Even someone who is some Machiavellian mastermind seems more comforting than what is staring us in the face. At least then we could trust him not to royally fuck up everything.

I agree BigT, it’s comforting to think that Trump is playing some kind of game with the public to push through his agenda and distract from his corruption because it implies that there is a rationality behind it and rational people don’t blow up the planet. I am of the opinion that Trump behaves like a thin-skinned madman because that’s what he is.

Author Alexandra Erin said this yesterday on Twitter which is getting a lot of attention:

This is a very interesting observation. It shows Trump’s lack of intellect, or possibly ongoing dementia, and that he’s just a puppet of a crazed GOP, mad with its new power.

I am stunned anyone believes he listens to his advisers, to be honest.

And she said it in 140 character chunks!

Yeah, that is what I’m thinking, as well – keep up the pressure! I have no idea how he would react, but just maybe he will lose some important allies.

You are parroting, using the same phrases, what Scott Adams has been saying for quite some time, and what a lot of his followers have been saying. Your wording’s so close I honestly wonder if you got it from him.

The OP has put forth a theory that has a great deal of logic behind it and makes perfect sense - and it would be genius ***if ***Trump were employing such a strategy - but I don’t think Trump is that nuanced or complex or strategic.
This reminds me of a Mark Twain story, “Luck.” The main character, Scoresby, makes a series of foolish decisions, but somehow through improbable luck, all of his foolish errors have spectacularly successful results, and because of that, people hail him as a genius, when in fact it was nothing but luck. In battle, Scoresby mistakes his right hand for his left, and so orders a suicidally ill-advised attack on the enemy, but because the enemy just so happens to be caught off guard, it actually is a successful military move.

Nope, never heard of him actually. Why is it you guys never give us righties credit for coming up with anything on our own? To hear you tell it our opinions only come from Fox (who I don’t watch) or Rush Limbaugh (who I don’t listen to), etc., etc., etc. The reality is that certain truths are self-evident if one isn’t biased against them to begin with.

Well, Scott Adams came up with it on his own, and I give him full credit. I am simply making the straightforward observation that you are not the only person saying these things; it’s a common claim, actually. Adams is hardly the only one who’s said it.

Sorry, I momentarily forgot the SDMB propensity for pedantry. I would have thought it obvious I was talking about being the only one on the board promoting that view, and not that I was the only person in the world doing so. Your correction, FWIW, is duly noted.