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

You have disparaged one of my favorite presidents :stuck_out_tongue:

Places where the simple comparison breaks down:

One of Teddy’s popular quotes starts “Talk softly.” Trump missed that memo.

Teddy wrote books. Trump doesn’t read them.

Teddy’s variety of jobs before becoming President included experience as a Governor, legislator, military officer and senior executive branch positions. Teddy was also active in politics during law school and was already in the state legislature at the age of 24. Trump is an an on the job trainee almost 5 decades later in life.

Teddy - "“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” Trump has twitter tantrums about people saying anything critical.

Trump is no Teddy Roosevelt. He wishes.

It’s too damn bad people did underestimate Trump when he was running office !
A lot of people didn’t think he could win and fuck it did ! I kept saying he was going to win and people told me not to worry ! Now those people are really worried !

Why not?

I mean really, I think people need to give up on the notion that Trump is an idiot or mentally unstable. I realize that’s the first conclusion many people may have jumped to when Trump entered the race a year and a half ago. I jumped to that conclusion, so I understand why others think so. But as I said, I’ve changed my mind. Trump is intelligent, self-controlled, and good at planning ahead.

The proof is in the pudding: he won the Presidency. Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush and other candidates had legions of advisers with Ivy league education, highly-paid consultants and firms running every detail of their campaign, high-tech analyses telling them exactly where to go and what to do. Trump beat them all. Moreover, in the primary at least he did it with barely any staff and any spending. That has to count for something.

It’s said that at the start of every war, both sides are preparing to fight the last war, i.e. they are assuming that tactics, strategy, and technology will be basically the same as it was in the past. Those few who can chuck out the old wisdom and adapt rapidly to changes tend to win. We are in a new media environment, where anyone on Twitter can communicate with millions of people without spending a dime. Where people watch more videos on YouTube than ads on TV. Where things like Breitbart are displacing the traditional media. Trump understands the new media environment and adapts to it. The other candidates are stuck in the past, raising huge piles of money and spending it on flooding TV channels with ads. It simply cannot be the case that Trump is a clueless idiot, blundering around without any understanding of what he’s doing.

Here’s an article in Bloomberg making the same argument as my OP, with numbers to show that it’s working:

According to data collected by, the most widely shared CNN news story about Donald Trump since January 21 was one about Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer attacking the media for their reporting on inauguration attendance. It was shared 169,700 times on Facebook. A story on Trump’s executive order to start rolling back Obamacare clocked just 71,100 shares. On The New York Times’ website, the most widely shared story debunkedSpicer’s “alternative facts.” It showed up on Facebook 170,900 times. The New York Times piece about Trump’s executive order abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership got 44,600 shares.

Trump’s and his team’s communications look awkward, inept, gallingly primitive. It’s time to wise up: These people know what they’re doing. They want their political opponents to be confused, to flail at windmills, to expend emotions on meaningless scandals to distract them from any targeted, coordinated action against specific threats. There are going to be many of these: Trump appears intent on keeping his promises. Calm concentration is needed to counteract dangerous policies.

I see it as the complete opposite. Trump’s already falling apart. The problem is his supporters don’t understand what’s going on. So Trump is able to tell them that he’s succeeding and they believe him because they don’t know any better.

The only people who Trump is outsmarting are the people who are dumb enough to be outsmarted by Donald Trump.

I don’t agree with ITR champion on most anything, but yeah, Trump is far from stupid and its that thinking by his opponents which have got him to the White House.

For some reason the above brought this to mind:

A while back there was a thread comparing the prospect of a Trump presidency to the period immediately following 9-11. After only a few days, the feeling I’m getting is the last year or so of the Nixon presidency, when it seemed that despite any appearances to the contrary, nobody was really in charge. Actually, it might be even worse: Nixon at least had something to focus on (Watergate), while Trump’s actions seem to be be governed by a) who’s said something unflattering about him, b) settling real or imagined old scores, or c) sticking it to people he doesn’t consider worthwhile (which includes damn near everybody).

Granted, this could be a fiendishly clever game of misdirection and subterfuge; but I find it at least as likely that there’s a seriously unstable mind at work.

But CNN has never been about substantive news reporting, certainly not in this century, anyway. It’s not like Trump getting elected added 20 IQ points to Don Lemon and Wolf Blitzer.

Facts don’t matter, if they did Trump wouldn’t have been elected in the first place. What mattered was Benghazi! and Emails! Do you honestly believe that a Trump voter would have been swayed by thoughtful analysis? They would have turned the channel faster than you can say Honey Boo Boo 2024!

I’m going to move this to GD, because I feel it fits a little better there than in this forum.

So there are two possible explanations:

  1. Trump is crazy like a fox and is manipulating the media. The media is doing exactly what he wants, and his lies are designed to distract from his nefarious agenda.
  2. Trump is crazy like a shithouse rat and is breaking down. The media, given the choice between reporting on expected policy moves and on entertaining lies, are going where they always go: where the drama is. It drives Trump up the goddamned wall, but he can’t help himself.

ITR, how would you suggest we choose between these strategies? What prediction does your #1 make that #2 doesn’t? What facts in the past support #1 but not #2?

How does this explain:

  • His piss-poor performance at the debates
  • His tirade against the Khan family
  • His tirade against Alicia Machado

What was the long game there? For someone who is intelligent, self-controlled, and good at planning ahead, he fell right into blatantly obvious traps in ways that clearly hurt him. He failed to do any preparation whatsoever for a major televised debate. What was the endgame there, exactly? Or this new bullshit about the crowd size - you can say this distracts from more substantial issues, but the fact is that the man has spent a week harping on an issue that anyone with eyes can see is fake. He is demolishing his own credibility among anyone but his true believers. Even if this covered up his actual agenda (which it didn’t), this is incredibly poor long-term planning.

Trump was able and willing to lie bigger and play a much more obscene propaganda game than any other candidate. This was a winning strategy. However, pretending that this was some stroke of genius, rather than a confluence of luck and outside factors… I don’t buy it.

I am too tired to explain to you why TR and DJT are wildly different, but OP has hit on something that can be explained more simply:

  1. President Trump is a lightning rod. He draws fire, and makes other conservative politicians and his own cabinet look sane by comparison.
  2. Trump is totally inexperienced in statecraft, and indifferent enough to the actual well-being of the country that he will go along with every single addle-brained idea on the “GOP” wishlist (which, oops, is actually the Koch family’s program). An actual politician would balk at some of it, delay some of it, soft-pedal some of it. Trump is on a high, and the extreme wing of the party is exploiting that psychology to ram through a bunch of swingeing cuts as quickly as possible.
  3. There’s some hope on the GOP part that with this much being thrown at the civil service, the global economy, and the domestic populace at once, at least some of the damage done to the USA’s institutions will stick or take too long to rebuild.
  4. Trump really is a giant neurotic attention-demander. He is obsessed with being onstage, respected, adored, to an extreme degree. (Are we sure he’s part Scottish?) His extracurricular noise-making reflects that.

That said, the USA just lost the senior staff of the Foreign Service. I would have thought that was a huge error even by Reagan Republican standards. Perhaps not.

[quote=“madmonk28, post:7, topic:778119”]

Actually, this is working. Trump has a 45% approval rating, the lowest approval rating for a newly elected president in history.

I see 36% now. He is the scum of the scum of the scum of the earth, only slightly worse than the fools who voted for him to ‘shake things up’. God help us.

I gotta agree with foolsguinea’s summarization of the Trump/HardRight symbiosis. He gets to be center of attention, *they *get to do things they were dreaming of for 30 years but no actual GOP president was crass or reckless enough to go along with (eliminate the cultural-subsidy entities, purge the senior staff).

Trump winning doesn’t mean people underestimated Trump. It means they overestimated America.

The point you’re missing is that the person he outsmarted is you. He got you to believe his lies and give him your vote.

And, as always, the person who benefits will be Donald J Trump personally while he lets the business he’s running - in this case, the entire country - fall apart behind him.

At this point those who support him have two choices: Either recognize his screw-ups for what they are(Mexico, anybody?), or keep on insisting that the Emperor’s new clothes are très magnifique!

I totally agree with IRT Champion.

Also, magic especially happens when a strategy (as outlined by the OP) meshes perfectly with the given personal characteristics of Trump himself.

So that is about the “how”, the misdirection, the disinformation, the keeping your opposition running and flailing at windmills.

As to the “why”, the long game, well, the Guardian had an excellent thinkpiece on that. Money, and money interests. Frightened by Donald Trump? You don’t know the half of it | George Monbiot | The Guardian

As for my predictions, on this crazy-like-a-fox-scenario, as proposed by Left Hand of Dorkness:

The crazyness will continue as it has for about one or two more weeks. By then the the Cabinet picks are safe, and most controversial executive orders will have been pushed through. One or two weeks from now, Trump will become easier and seemingly more grown-up, and people might relax for a while. Also, by then a lot of people will have been turned off from politics and news alltogether, which is just as Trump and Murdoch want.
The crazyness will flare up again when a supreme court member is picked.
And for the record, I also predicted Trumps win. In September.

Not because of my deep insights, but simply because I had seen with my own eyes that in my own country and in my neighboring European countries, Trump-like demagogues consistently get about 30 % of the vote. And in an American election with a low turnout, that might just be enough.

Well it is an strategy that works to win elections, but like Berlusconi showed, not a smart one or rational for everyone else.

This is a tired refrain, not a novel observation. Every Trump supporter ever says he’s “crazy like a fox”, because they all recognize that he consistently says and does really ignorant, pointless, rambling and counterproductive things and they don’t want to admit that they just voted for the guy with the “R” by his name (most Republicans) or the guy who is most clearly racist and xenophobic (the hardcore koolaid drinking Trumpsters).