Dilbert’s Brain Groks Trump

I’m doing a shitty job at avoiding politics. As always, I beg forgiveness as I crash into the festering swamp. You don’t have to follow if you don’t want. I’ll be back in reality again sooner or later.

Today I want to point out a statement by none other than Scott Adams, the man behind Dilbert. Mr. Adams and I share an appreciation for good performances. Perhaps we both fish in the experience for what it says about mankind? Here’s a clip of Adam’s analysis of Trump’s salesmanship (click here for the full article):

“But how does a persuader know when to redirect attention to something specific versus being vague so the audience can fill in the blanks? Let me see if I can answer that for you.

A golden rule in sales is “Don’t sell past the close.” That means that once your customer says yes, you stop talking about the product because you might accidentally say something that stops the sale. You never add detail when the customer is already sold. The less you say, the more likely the customer (who is already sold) will continue talking himself into loving the decision because people like to think they are smart. (Google “cognitive dissonance” for more on that topic.)

Now review Trump’s empty sentence: We need to take America back.

From whom? Notice the intentional lack of detail? In this case, the lack of detail is the powerful part of the sentence.”

Well said sir! Who among us is opposed to taking America back?

I’d like to take America back too. Wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t? What are you, a stinking monster? Of course you want America back! It’s where you grew up. You have friends who live there. It’s where you keep your stuff. Your pal Trump and his hair are going to get gritty and claw America back from those (unspecified) bastards who took it! Go team!

From whom shall we seize our apparently stolen nation? Pick anything. It doesn’t matter.

Suppose I’d like to take America back from socialists, debt, whiners, and radioactive wombats? Maybe you’d like to take America back from politically correct eggheads, dumbasses, the Oakland Raiders, and Canada? Maybe my neighbor wants to take it back from war hawks, big oil, Dick Cheney’s evil influence, and con trails?

Normally we wouldn’t have a lot in common, yet Trump stepped over the media’s stunned twitching pulverized body to toss a sales pitch to all of us. Trump picked a masterful statement and is wielding it like a Samurai with a Ginsu.

It’s impressive to watch partly because it’s so foreign to my thinking. If I were running for office I’d put everyone who didn’t hate me into a coma. I’d start discussing fiat currency and even my strongest supporters would shrug, think “math is hard”, and start watching YouTube videos of cats on their smartphones. Trump could sell a brick to a drowning man and make him think it’ll float. There’s a reason why I’m an obscure blogger and Trump has his own jet.

This isn’t a new concept. When America went apeshit in 2008, Barack Obama was playing the same game. He promised “change we can believe in“. Really? Can we just vote for an amorphous thing called “change”? You’d better believe it brother! Can we simply express a preference for an unspecified verb? Yes We Can!

The electorate went for it and the faithful expected awesomeness to happen. The rest of us buckled in for the ride.

Don’t forget the heady feel of 2007. During the full phases of the moon you could watch  great steaming gobs of unspecified hope materializing out of thin air. In a room of faithful followers you’d hear a thousand things their new saviour was going to do. Some of them were attainable. Some were not. Some were beyond the purview of a President. Some were beyond the abilities of a human being. Some were mutually exclusive. Some might delight one member of the faithful but anger another member of the faithful.

Yet most people in his supporting cast spoke like their newest hope had created a package of ideas that was exactly what they wanted. Like a Buddhist chant, a single man became everything by saying (almost) nothing.

Nobody but God can be all things to everyone and even God hasn’t given me the solid gold house I was hoping for. So of course there was disappointment. Reality is boring and governance is hard. Obama blamed Bush a while, then whined that he didn’t have enough power, then (after a “shellacking”) claimed he’d work miracles with a pen and a phone, and finally he gave up and settled for running out the clock. America got some of the change that at least some of the electorate believed in but reality doesn’t comport with hope or change or belief. Now the other party is drinking the same elixir.

I felt the tide wash over me in 2008. I complained; “Obama has become a mirror in which you see yourself.” Adams sees it today but says it more clearly than I. Perhaps because people were really seeing the king’s clothes, few seemed to get my point. Few are getting Adam’s point. It was an interesting time. It remains an interesting time.

Trump is amusing but I don’t want to see him elected. My hope was that he’d encourage his competition to grow balls; a hope that may fade. (What is it with the major parties and gutless dweebs? I have an urge to get up there and start administering wedgies!) Initially I thought Trump would be eaten by a carnivorously biased press. I figured he had 8 weeks or less. I underestimated the power of promising everything to everyone.

Sanity might not get traction. Trump might pull it off. America has done worse. It’ll survive this too. Clearly Trump and Obama are more than coincidence. We’re seeing a facet of human nature writ large. People like to vote for their mirror.

About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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9 Responses to Dilbert’s Brain Groks Trump

  1. Mark Matis says:

    I would only note that Trump has actually created details on his proposed policy on immigration. Unlike any of the REST of the candidates thus far. Do you doubt that HE has a pair of balls? Do you REALLY believe that any of the REST of the GOP candidates are credibly going to grow a pair? As opposed to what their team did before last year’s elections, which were followed by their current posture?

    Of course, there are indeed SOME candidates out there with balls. The current Democrat front runner definitely has a set. But then she has ALWAYS worn the pants in that household…

    My ideal would be for Trump as President, with Andrew Napolitano as his vice, to temper him slightly. Although Sarah Palin as his vice would also be a special option.

  2. Paul Bonneau says:

    I’m hoping that Hillary is elected captain of the USS Titanic. She’d be perfect in that role.

    As to Trump, I have my doubts he controls the local organizations any more than Ron Paul did. There are lots of games that can be played at that level. Vote fraud, anyone?

  3. Titan Mk6B says:

    Trump is overflowing with confidence and I think that is appealing to a lot of people. As you mentioned it there appears to be a good reason he has a jet.

    Also, at this point in the process I don’t expect a lot of specifics from any of the candidates and really nobody seems to have any. That will come later.

    From what I can see Trump seems to be able to handle himself in just about any situation and is getting a lot of air play. I guess the rules can change and a lot of folks are surprised that even though “he is doing everything wrong” his popularity continues to grow.

    This is interesting as hell.

  4. MaxDamage says:

    Trump has an advantage with the media, as he is used to the spotlights, the medium, and the role. Similar to Reagan who brought his talents as an actor and his speeches honed with General Electric to the fore, compared to folks who have only run for office and have never had to think on their feet with the spotlights blazing and the cameras rolling. The media eat it up, he looks good compared to the deer-in-headlights look of people for whom this is new… But there is year left in the campaign. A mid-city radio talk host would eat the lunch of all of them given the format. Yet at some point in the process we start looking for a leader, and the media hype fades to irrelevance.

    • …the media hype fades to irrelevance?

      Are you shitting me? Hype never fades, it’s replaced by new hype.

      We just elected elected “hope and change” and re-elected “yes we can”. Reagan was a “shining city on a hill” and the elder Bush was “thousand points of light” and “kinder gentler nation”. Mr. Clinton was… well all that and a bag of chips. It’s media hype all the way down.

      Trump may flame out (everyone expected he would have done so by now but there’s still time). Regardless he won’t be trashed because the electorate has moved beyond media BS and carried out a detailed analysis of his foreign affairs plans or reflected deeply about his proposed economic policies.

      • MaxDamage says:

        Yeah, I’m shitting you. Sort of. The hype is shining city on a hill and kinder, gentler nation, and Republican candidates are dopes and morons even if they can fly F102’s while Democrats barely capable of riding a bicycle are the pinnacle of intellectual achievement. I think there is a great disconnect happening. The media tell us what to think, we are starting to see how that works and ignore them, they’re in turn printing lots of ink telling us how stupid we must be to not pay attention to them.
        Have you ever told somebody they were stupid and expected them to thank you for the insight? Ever tell somebody they’re racist, or homophobic, and expected them to suddenly adopt your preferred position?
        Neither have I. Yet that is the tactic being used, and they’re gobsmacked that it’s not working. I have confidence that people can handle their own affairs and see though this.

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