Go after the weak spot in his psychic armourby Tom Streithorst / September 22, 2016 / Leave a comment
Sometimes our self-image does not correspond to reality. In those moments, we are forced to delude ourselves. And defending our perception of our own self-worth often makes us look ridiculous. Donald Trump has built his brand on the basis that he is a very rich, very successful real estate developer. His fans tell pollsters they support him because we need a businessman in the White House. He tells us he is the best negotiator, he knows the art of the deal, he can use his talents to benefit the rest of us. Being a very rich and successful businessman is the heart of any reason to vote for him.
But the truth is somewhat different. Trump inherited a property fortune from his father Fred Trump, who really was a successful businessman. The Zeckendorfs, the Tishmans, the Spitzers are the truly significant property developers in New York City. Trump plays the businessman on reality TV. We know that he is a skilled marketing man highly adept at building his own brand. But whether he is as successful as he says is cannot be confirmed until he releases his full tax returns, which at present he has not done.
Back in 2011, Trump participated in a “celebrity roast” on Comedy Central, the network television station. As is normal with this format, foul jokes were made at his expense. Comedians mocked his red face, his comb-over—they made jokes about his penis, about the idea of him having an incestuous relationship with his daughter, and Trump chuckled. All these topics were fair game. The only thing he insisted on before the show was that no comedian question whether he is as wealthy as he claims.
And so we see the Donald’s Achilles heel.
In 1980, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan were neck and neck until the first debate. Back in that more innocent age, many Americans wondered if a second rate Hollywood hack had the gravitas to be President. But in the debate, standing next to Carter, Reagan’s excellent posture, dignified demeanour, and witty banter made him look Presidential. That was all it took to turn the polls around. A week later, Reagan won in a landslide.
Trump has so successfully lowered expectations that if he merely reads off a teleprompter and avoids saying something racist, misogynistic, or categorically untrue, he seems Presidential. Nonetheless, many Americans, including some of his potential supporters, fear his volatile temperament. They wonder if a man so thin-skinned should have his fingers on the nuclear trigger.
Hillary’s goal in the debates should be to make Trump lose his cool. She cannot allow him to seem calm and presidential. And the best way to get Trump to lose it is to go after the weak spot in his psychic armour. She should say: “Donald Trump is not a successful businessman, he just plays one on TV.” And “How does it make you feel knowing if you had merely invested the money you inherited from your dad in a passive index fund, you would be considerably richer than you are today?” And, “Is the reason you won’t release your taxes that you don’t want people to know you aren’t nearly as rich as say you are?” And “You’ve been bankrupt four times, you’ve failed at everything other than being a reality TV star. How does that make you qualified to lead America?”
If she does that, Trump will explode. He won’t look presidential, he will look like a nutter. Swing voters will recognise the pleasure of a protest vote against Clinton is not worth the risk of Armageddon and the Trump campaign will go down in flames. Let us pray.