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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Trumpie the clown

by digby

This is a very nice piece of Trump analysis by Lance Mannion.  An excerpt:

Trump is a clown by design and with purpose. He clowns to show he’s in on the joke and to make a joke of the whole process. He clowns to bait his opponents into making fools of themselves in response. He clowns to distract the media from what he’s really up to, knowing they’ll report on the success of the act and not what he’s actually saying. He clowns to show he’s not taking himself or the election or politics seriously, which is, of course, just what the media want to hear because it’s what they believe, that it’s not a serious business, that nothing important’s at stake, that all politicians who aren’t knaves are fools and most of them are both so there’s no need to waste time on the work necessary to understand policy, they can sit back and enjoy writing about how they’re enjoying the show.  He clowns to let his fans know that none of it matters, that it’s all fun and games, that he’s letting them in on the joke, that they’re right to be cynical and distrusting of the supposedly smart and successful people who run the show and make them feel like fools and suckers in the process, that’s he’s making those supposedly smart and successful people look like the real fools and suckers.

He clowns because he’s good at it and it works.

The history of American politics is rife with examples of successful politicians who clowned their way into and through office. Huey Long being a prime example. Prohibition-era Chicago mayor Big Bill Thompson being another. Thompson, about as corrupt as a corrupt pol can be, once staged a “debate” with a pair of caged rats he named after two of his political rivals. Even some good guys have been clowns or had a touch of the clown about them. Fiorello LaGuardia, for example. For that matter, FDR wasn’t above a bit of clowning when the mischief got in him and he felt the situation called for it. Bill Clinton could do it too. Politics is a performance art. Good leaders have to entertain and amuse as well as engage and inspire. Trump entertains and amuses as a means of engaging and inspiring by clowning. Of course, what he inspires is anger, resentment, envy, and hate. But that doesn’t change the fact that his clowning has been a key to his success.

His weakness isn’t that he’s a clown.

His weakness is he’s a self-infatuated clown.

He loves his own act. He can’t get enough of himself.  And he loves that other people love the act too. He loves the laughter and applause because they confirm him in his own high self-regard. So he can’t resist playing to his audience, repeating the same jokes and patter over and over in order to elicit the same laughter and applause. The only way he can bring himself to vary the act is by trying to top himself. He has to take things further and farther, piling up the laughs, getting the crowd roaring, bringing down the house.  But in the end all he’s doing is repeating the same tried and true shtick to an audience who’s already proved they can’t get enough of the same old same old.. And he’s happy with that. He’s glad to stop there. He doesn’t take the risks necessary to winning over new fans. All he dares do is try to make his current fans laugh longer and clap louder.

This means he’s limiting his appeal to people who are already committed to voting for him and to other Republicans who are coming around because, after all, that’s all he is in political reality---just another Republican.

Many people getting a kick out of how Elizabeth Warren’s been needling him on Twitter think she’s doing a good job of getting under his skin. I’m not so sure. And I’m not sure getting under his skin is the object. From what I’ve seen of their exchanges, I think what she’s been doing is goading him into repeating himself. He thinks he’s getting the better of her. His fans agree. They’re laughing and clapping and cheering and crying for more. And he’s giving it to them. He can’t help himself.

This means he can’t make the presidential pivot.

I agree about Warren. She's drawing fire. And other Democrats are starting to do the same thing.  It's risky but it just might work.

And I also agree that Trump cannot make the presidential pivot.The question is whether it really matters. Lance makes some excellent points about how the media prism affects this and I think he's right.

And he notes that voters, being human beings, will retreat to their partisan corners and the Republicans will learn to love the clown. They already are, as I noted in my piece below. If that's true it means he can win. And even if he doesn't it means that the Republican Party will never be the same. Trump is them and they are Trump --- clowns, lacking in all integrity, not to be take seriously on any ideological basis. And whether he wins or not we know for sure that they are willing to endorse open bigotry, torture, summary execution, mass deportation, banning religion, surveillance of minorities, greater police power and an unleashing of the military with no restraint whenever the nation is "disrespected."

This is good to know.

Be sure to read Lance's whole piece.  Excellent as usual.