Why Trump is here to stay

There has been a lot of media chatter today about Donald Trump’s derogatory comments about Carly Fiorina’s looks and her response to the insult, prompting once again the age-old question of whether it is possible for American politics to get even more trivial and the sad fact is that the answer always seem to be ‘yes’. Another flap the media is drooling over is Trump and the sanctimonious Ben Carson fighting it over who has more religious faith, as if it matters at all to governing. The media loves it when candidates trash talk each other and these will dominate the news cycle for a few days.

The original comment by Trump about Fiorina appeared in a very long article by Paul Solotaroff in Rolling Stone. Solotaroff spent 10 days in Trump’s company and thus had a chance to get a good insight into the man and his article has lots of good information that seems to be lost with the focus on Trump’s throwaway comment about Fiorina which is not really news since we already knew that Trump has demeaning attitudes about women. His supporters know it and don’t seem to care in the least.

But I want to focus on some revealing insights that Soloratoff gleaned from his encounter that risks being lost in the focus on the statements about Fiorina, and looks at how Trump manages to click with his supporters. Here are some excerpts:

Over the course of 10 days and several close-in encounters, I got to peer behind the scrim of his bluster and self-mythos and get a very good look at the man. What I saw was enough to make me take him dead serious. If you’re waiting for Trump to blow himself up in a Hindenburg of gaffes or hate speech, you’re in for a long, cold fall and winter. Donald Trump is here for the duration — and gaining strength and traction by the hour.

To sit alone with Trump is to be whipsawed and head-snapped by his sentences that start and stop, his thoughts that take hard detours or suddenly become questions in midstream. But as I learn in Hampton, exactly none of this will matter once Donald Trump takes the stage. The second those klieg lights hit him, he’ll find his maestro voice, that nimble and knowing schoolyard brogue that doesn’t miss a trick or a chance to pounce. Besides, he’ll say the exact same unscripted things he said in Michigan days earlier and will say again tomorrow at the Iowa State Fair, all of it word for word from memory. You may lament Trump’s message, but you can’t move him off it. It’s like trying to stop a 757.

There, in those words, is his campaign. I am strong; politicians are weak. I speak truth and never retreat; they lie and wave the white flag to our foes. They have stripped us bare; I will build us back, make this country feared the whole world over. Everything he utters is a version of this, dressed in different raiment or reference — and he’s saying it to people, his “silent majority,” who have longed to hear these words since Richard Nixon. “He’s delivering a message of power and courage without any proof points called policy,” says Steve Schmidt, the Republican wise man and campaign warhorse who’s been watching Trump with mounting fascination. “A huge chunk of conservatives are unmoored from the issues. What moves them is his tone and attack on Republicans who they hold in complete contempt.”

The enormous audience leaps to its feet in eruptive, rocking laughter. And for 58 minutes, he goes on like this, playing the crowd like a Telecaster. Mexico’s taking your jobs. Ford and Nabisco are fleeing there. No more Oreos for Trump! What’s most striking is the ease with which Trump does it — no note cards, no teleprompter, no prep in the car. Running his first race for office at 69, an age when other men are seeking help for bladder conditions, he gives every impression of being born for this — and of having the time of his life.

Trump springs from his desk chair and summons me over to the floor-to-ceiling windows facing north. Below us, beyond the Tiffany Building and the Plaza Hotel, spreads the splendid sine qua non of Central Park, lush in its summer coat of greens and golds. “I mean, who has this location? I own this,” says Trump, marveling at his great good fortune. “I’m at the point in my life — tremendous cash flow, very little debt — where I could do anything I want. I said, ‘Now, I’m gonna take the risk of running for president. We need that kinda mind to make great deals.’ ”

As we stand there, hundreds of feet above New York, gazing on the Lilliputian tourists, it occurs to me to wonder: How on Earth, from this vantage, did Trump see into the hearts of underemployed white folk? How did he know that they stewed and simmered over free trade, immigrants and fat-cat Republicans who’d sold them down the river for decades? How did he guess that they’d conflated those things to explain the flight of factory jobs, and that all they really cared about, besides the return of those jobs, was that someone beat the hell out of the party hacks — the Jeb Bushes and Scott Walkers and Karl Roves?

But the answer to my question is ringing in the air — specifically, in the echo of Trump’s accent. He was raised around lunch-pail guys in Queens and learned to talk like them trailing his father to building sites. He shares the syntax and sympathies of meat-and-potatoes types, and has crafted his message for their ears expressly, calling out the enemies on their list. In New Hampshire, I watched that huge crowd come to a boil as he took dead aim at corporate greed. “When the head of Ford calls me up and he says, ‘Mr. President, we really want to build this plant in Mexico,’ I’ll say, ‘Congratulations . . . we’re gonna charge you a 35 percent tax on every car and truck and part that comes in!’ ‘But you can’t dooo that, Mr. President!’ Trust me, I can do it — and what happens is, they probably fold by 5 p.m.”

Never mind the pipe-dream scenario being spun, which omits that only Congress can set new taxes: The whole room shakes as if on skates. That mind-meld is what lets him flaunt his wealth and sell it as proof he’s on their side.

That assault on the bad rich, the takers and job exporters, is the second masterstroke of his campaign. He’s not just spurning their money, he’s spilling the beans on them, outing the ways in which they’ve gamed the system to enrich themselves and co-opt the Republican Party.

Whatever we think of him, whether we like it or not, Trump is here to stay and those who think that the public will get tired of his schtick and bored with his antics and in due course turn away are wrong. The only thing that will stop him is if he decides that he does not want to spend enough of his own money on the race. He talks as if money is no problem but he has always exaggerated his wealth and income. That he might actually balk at the high cost of a long-running presidential campaign is the thin reed on which the Republican establishment’s hopes are resting.


  1. raven says

    Well really, that is inspiring.

    I feel like a hearty Sieg Heil and a snappy salute is in order. (This is sarcasm.)

    Trump offers simple solutions that are mostly wrong to complex problems. That may well put him ahead of John Ellis Bush et al. who offer to to take our complex problems and make them…worse.

  2. Lesbian Catnip says

    Donald Trump: I’ve got no debt, because I leave my freshly unemployed employees holding the bag.

  3. M'thew says

    The term “pied piper” comes to mind. Trump’s song is not so sweet, but it certainly is what a lot of people want to hear.

    Too bad for the Republicans that they’ve put so much effort into grooming the electorate for empty policies and demagoguery, only to see someone less couth run away with the prize. Would it make them come to their senses and realise that they are reaping what they sowed? I won’t hold my breath.

  4. lorn says

    A whole lot of what people seem to like about Trump comes down to his apparent directness and refusal to work indirectly. There is a lot of seething resentment over passive-aggressive and double-dealing politicians who kill programs while asserting they are only seeking to improve them.

    A good example is the claim of anti abortion politicians to be adding regulations to protect woman’s health when the actual, demonstrable, intent is to shut down clinics that offer abortions. The fact that women are more at far risk from pregnancy than abortion gets no traction. Neither does the hypocrisy of forcing woman to carry to term but cutting funding for child care and food.

    Another is the concern over ‘protecting the vote’ that stops citizens with legal right to vote from voting, or getting their vote counted.

    I can see where Trump, who isn’t being anywhere near as direct or honest about his record or intentions, might seem like a different sort. At least on the surface it sounds like he says what he thinks without a thought to who he might rub the wrong way. That said, he is clearly seeking to curry favor with, and avoid alienating in anything but an endearing way, key constituencies.

    He has been getting the benefit of the doubt simply because when your group has been back-stabbed repeatedly over the years by people who say sweet things and smile in your face someone who expresses who is openly insulting and hostile to your group might seem refreshing. This is why some groups insulted were not entirely put off by Andrew Dice Clay. Openly insulting a group is at least up front. You can address an open attack. indirect attacks and passive-aggression are harder to handle.

  5. StevoR says

    Oh come on! We’ve still got a year and a half till the US election even happens.

    Trump for POTUS? Seriously?! Nah. No,. Flippin’ Way.

    Call me naive but I do have more faith in Americans intelligence than that.

  6. StevoR says

    PS. I know I know, Bush II got in twice and all. Still .. such a long way and so much still to go. I really, really cannot see Americans being quite that stupid r the Donald having quite such staying power.

    Yes, I’m surprised and shocked and mistaken in past comments about how he’s “seriously” in the race and polling so well so far. But really, Trump? FFS!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *