The Art of the Deal

One of the left wing blogs I used to read 10 years back:

“You gotta hand it to the guy,” a friend said of Donald Trump last night. “He knows how to keep all the attention focused on him.”

Maybe the best analysis of the Trump phenomenon comes from Rush Limbaugh:

Right in The Art of the Deal Trump says, if you’re serious in a negotiation about wanting something — and, by the way, being serious is the only time to enter into it — and if there’s something dead certain you’ve gotta have, you have got to start out with the most outrageous position. The opener has got to be so outrageous that the compromise is exactly what you want.

I think I see. If you’re Donald Trump and you want to build a 20-storey hotel somewhere, you start out asking for a 100-storey job with a heliport on the top, and a casino and swimming pool bulging out of the 50th floor.

Trump is bringing The Art of the Deal to politics. He calls for something outrageous, and everyone says You Can’t Do That, and that’s just what he wants. When he climbs down, he gets the 20-storey hotel he wanted from the outset.

And also he grabs all the headlines every time he calls for something outrageous.

The point is that all of this bombast and all of this outrageousness is owning the media. It is shaping the media day. The media day is being determined by what Trump is saying, where Trump is, what people’s reactions to Trump are. He owns it.

As you just heard, more coverage than the entire Democrat presidential campaign, all those candidates combined. He has over twice the amount of news coverage that the media’s own candidate, Hillary Clinton, is getting.

And it puts him out on his own.

As far as he’s concerned, the more outrageous, the better. It calls attention to the point that he’s making, and he ends up being the only person occupying his position. He’s got no competition. Everybody else — everybody — is saying the exact the same thing, but none of them are saying what Trump is saying… I have never seen anybody own the media like this.

JFK did not own the media like this.

Bill Clinton did not own the media like this.

Nobody has ever owned the media like Trump.

Rush Limbaugh again:

Donald Trump is condemning ISIS. Donald Trump is condemning illegal immigration. Donald Trump is condemning a weak, stupid United States leadership. Over here, everybody else is not. They are condemning Donald Trump. In a political sense, Donald Trump, leading the presidential campaign, is the sole occupier of his position. He has no competition for it. Just in a political sense, that’s pretty brilliant positioning to me. He owns the media. They can’t stop talking about him.

And what’s it costing him?


He’s not spending a dime.

And his supporters love him because he’s so darn Politically Incorrect. He says all the things that they daren’t say. They can’t wait for the next bombshell he’s going to drop.

This latest Donald Trump episode is a glittering, glaring example of how he is playing the media like a Stradivarius. And I tell you, folks, for all of you people who have complained and whined and moaned about the media over the years, and how unfair they are to Republicans and how unfair that makes the whole process and, “What are we gonna do?” You need to be studying Donald Trump. I don’t care whether you think what he says is outrageous or wrong or whatever. That’s the wrong way to look at this right now.

This latest quote/unquote “outrage” from Trump is a perfect example of how he plays the media, how he knows exactly what to do and how to do it to own their attention and airtime. He says things that he knows will drive them crazy. He says things over and over that he knows will drive them insane, and then when they go insane, he doubles down on it and drives them even crazier. He also knows that his audience is in on what he is doing.

He knows that a lot of Americans agree, to a certain extent, with things that he says. He also knows he’s the only one reaching those people. And then he sits back and watches (no doubt with a huge smile) the media cover what he says over and over and over and over again. Then they analyze it over and over and over, and they talk about it over and over and over again. He’s confident that a lot of his voters are gonna be able to strip away the bombast and be able to get to the nuts and bolts of what he’s saying, the kernel of truth of what he’s saying.

If Rush is right, then in order to close the deal after making all these initial outrageous demands, he’ll start to climb down on them, one by one. He’ll row back on re-introducing waterboarding. He’ll step back from killing entire jihadi families. And so on. He’ll start sounding and looking more and more reasonable. And that will pull in the voters who simply couldn’t accept the most outrageous things he’s said. And instead of a 100-storey hotel, he’ll get the 20-storey one he wanted from the outset. And that’ll be twice as high as was previously permitted.

I only hope that, before he’s through being thoroughly and outrageously Politically Incorrect, he’ll manage to light a big cigar on stage somewhere, and say that he doesn’t believe a word of what’s said against tobacco, just like he doesn’t believe a word of the global warming junk science.

Or is that too much to ask?


About Frank Davis

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19 Responses to The Art of the Deal

  1. Tony says:

    No. I think it’s too little. How about:
    1. Demanding that smoking be made compulsory, particularly in classrooms.
    2. Subsidising tobacco and then taxing epidemiologists and healthists at 800%.

    On second thoughts, I think that’s rather too reasonable. This needs more thought.

    • Smudger says:

      I LOVE your second suggestion. Oh for the day when the antis get to experience what they have inflicted on so many.

  2. Tony says:

    I saw the start of the Ted Cruz Senate hearing earlier and thought Will Happer seemed flustered. Here’s why. This is what happened moments earlier. At 00:33 seconds I think he says he’s popping out for a minute. Or rather, why he’s doing so.
    Just to be clear, I am very much on his side. I hope Greenpeace get the book thrown at them.

  3. waltc says:

    Well, glad you’re listening to Rush. But. Yes, Trump commands the media. So could any of the others if they mooned the camera, farted into the mike or threw a custard pie. The flaw in Rush’s theory is that Trump , as a mere candidate, isn’t in negotiations or in a position to negotiate. With anybody. A president can negotiate with congress but he’s not a president. Senators and congressmen (which he isn’t either) can negotiate with each other (I’ll fund your pork if you’ll vote for my bill, or let’s go halves on this proposition) but there’s no deal in the making here and no one to deal with. There’s only a rabble to rouse, a party (the republicans) to divide and disqualify, and a party (the Clintons) to benefit.

    Beats hell out of me what the advantage is in taking what might be a reasonable tho still un-PC un-left position ( a moratorium; or no entry to anyone who can’t be thoroughly vetted; or no entry from Europe w/o a visa or…whatever) and inflating it to something outrageous and bizarre not to mention pragmatically impossible. Same with immigration. Why propose deporting all 12 million mostly hispanic illegals with no exceptions when that smacks of pogrom and is again, aside from shocking, impractical?

    • Roobeedoo2 says:

      Is he not negotiating directly with the electorate, though Walt? The media are giving him a platform and in their attempts to caricature him, for want of a better word, they are coming off like raving loonies desperate to hold on to the status quo. He’s just saying what the general public, in this PC World…

      Not that PC World, Clicky… but, yeah, animation sells

      …that which we are not allowed to express for fear of losing a job or being shunned by society. Now, that’s not so scary for us angry, exiled-to-the-outsider smokers, but for the majority, they’ll see and hear Trump saying what they cannot say and thus admiration blooms.

      Plus everybody roots for an underdog. Only in the US can an underdog be a fucking billionaire ;)

    • Frank Davis says:

      The flaw in Rush’s theory is that Trump , as a mere candidate, isn’t in negotiations

      He’s in negotiations with the American people. He’s making them an offer. And clearly lots of Americans like what he’s offering. That leaves the remainder who can’t stand him. And that’s where the compromise comes. If Trump is still in the race by next July, he’ll be moderating his position to win over some of that remainder. He’ll start coming over as a statesman.

      If it comes down to Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton, it’ll be an upstart against a political insider, a man against a woman, and all sorts of other opposites. I suspect that he’d just bulldoze her out of the way. Quite exactly how, I don’t know.

  4. Ed says:

    “…and if there’s something dead certain you’ve gotta have, you have got to start out with the most outrageous position. The opener has got to be so outrageous that the compromise is exactly what you want.”

    That’s nothing new. It’s known as shifting the Overton window.

    A quick example;

  5. Ed says:

    Similar methods are the door-in-the-face and foot-in-the-door-techniques;

  6. Frank Davis says:
    For a pro wrestler, energy is everything. A wrestling fan is less interested in what is happening — or the coherence of how one event leads to the next — than the fact that something is happening.

    On that score, Trump delivers. He is omnipresent on TV. When he can’t make it in front of the camera, he’ll simply call in. When he’s not on TV, he’s tweeting boasts, insults, and non-sequiturs.

    When he runs out of things to tweet, he retweets random comments from his supporters.
    Along those lines, Trump’s favorite insult — which he has employed repeatedly against Jeb Bush and, more recently, Ben Carson — is that his opponents are “low energy.”

    Donald Trump is going to be president, and he will cruise to victory in the biggest, hugest landslide the American electorate has ever handed any candidate.

    That’s what cartoonist and Dilbert creator Scott Adams is predicting—with a whopping 98 percent certainty.

    Over the past few weeks, Adams has been devoting a chunk of his blogspace to his unified theory on why Trump can not only succeed at locking up the Republican nomination, but win the White House in a mega-landslide. He acknowledges his argument puts him in a diametrically opposing position to Nate Silver and other data-driven election-cycle prognosticators.
    As the summer of Donald Trump came to its end — and the prospect of a springtime for Trump no longer seemed like a gag — the quest to explain the billionaire’s runaway clown car went into overdrive. How could a crass, bigoted bully with a narcissistic-personality disorder and policy views bordering on gibberish “defy political gravity,” dominate the national stage, make monkeys out of pundits and pollsters, and pose an existential threat to one of America’s two major parties?

    Of course, it was the news media’s fault: The Washington Post charted the correlation between Trump’s national polling numbers and his disproportionate press coverage. Or maybe the public was to blame: Op-ed writers dusted off their sermons about Americans’ childish infatuation with celebrities and reality television. Or perhaps Trump was just the GOP’s answer to the “outsider” Bernie Sanders — even though Sanders, unlike Trump, has a coherent ideology and has spent nearly a quarter-century of his so-called outsider’s career in Congress. Still others riffled through historical precedents, from the third-party run of the cranky billionaire Ross Perot back to Huey Long and Father Charles Coughlin, the radio-savvy populist demagogues of the Great Depression. Or might Trump be the reincarnation of Joseph McCarthy (per the Times’ Thomas Friedman), Hugo Chávez (the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens), or that avatar of white-racist resentment, George Wallace (George Will)? The historian Richard Hofstadter’s Goldwater-era essay on “the paranoid style” in American politics was once again in vogue.

  7. slugbop007 says:

    What is Trump’s position on SHS and smoking bans?

    • Frank Davis says:

      He doesn’t smoke or drink (not even coffee). But he had a casino in Atlantic City, and he opposed a smoking ban for it. So the current guess is that he’s not an antismoker.

      The moment I learn that he is, my opinion of him (currently quite high) will plummet.

  8. slugbop007 says:

    ‘I only hope that, before he’s through being thoroughly and outrageously Politically Incorrect, he’ll manage to light a big cigar on stage somewhere, and say that he doesn’t believe a word of what’s said against tobacco, just like he doesn’t believe a word of the global warming junk science.
    Or is that too much to ask?’

    Most likely, but dreaming is free. If we all dream the same dream it might come true. Maybe some subliminal hypnosis.

  9. waltc says:

    If he’s negotiating w the public in the way you say then he’s pulling a bait-and-switch and would likely disillusion his ardent fans. Unfortunately I agree w the NY Mag’s description of a half-cocked bully with a personality disorder and a demagogue’s following. I’m all in favor of anti-PC talk and action, but to my ear Trump, by being so extreme, makes a stereotypic mockery of both and, in doing so, nullifies the power both they and the country deserve. I won’t put money on the outcome of the Republican primary, or even the general, but I’d point out that we’re pretty much a fifty-fifty country If Trump has and stays at a quarter of a half of that, and another half or even quarter of the R half stsy home with upthrown hands as many say they will, we get Hillary and another hundred miles on the Road to Serfdom and PC ourselves to literal death at the hands of an insidious infiltrated enemy whose name we won’t even pronounce.

    • Frank Davis says:

      If Trump has and stays at a quarter of a half of that, and another half or even quarter of the R half stsy home with upthrown hands as many say they will, we get Hillary and another hundred miles on the Road to Serfdom

      If Rs stay home, they’ll be the ones letting in Hillary. They’ll have nobody but themselves to blame.

      But Scott Adams, Dilbert cartoonist wrote last week:

      Business Insider reports that Trump’s favorability rating among Republican voters was 23% before he announced his candidacy.

      In July it had climbed to 59%.

      Today it is 69%. That means it tripled this year.

      Seems like Rs are getting to like Trump.

  10. garyk30 says:

    Perhaps, Trump is not as wild as some might believe.

    Barring people from a terrorist country is not against “our values” after all. It may even be “who we are”.
    Either that or Carter was a racist monster just like Trump.

    During the Iranian hostage crisis, Carter issued a number of orders to put pressure on Iran. Among these, Iranians were banned from entering the United States unless they oppose the Shiite Islamist regime or had a medical emergency.

    Interestingly enough, Carter did this by invoking the Nationality Act of 1952. A law originally opposed by Democrats for its attempt to restrict Communist immigration to the United States.

    “If this oasis of the world should be overrun, perverted, contaminated, or destroyed, then the last flickering light of humanity will be extinguished,” Senator McCarran said of the law. He was a Democrat.

    Now unlike Muslims, Iranians were not necessarily supportive of Islamic terrorism. Many were and are opponents of it. Khomeini didn’t represent Iran as a country, but his Islamist allies.

    So Trump’s proposal is far more legitimate than Carter’s action. Carter targeted people by nationality. Trump’s proposal does so by ideology.

  11. Joe L. says:

    So, Donald Trump calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., and outraged U.K. citizens respond by creating a petition to ban Donald Trump from entering the U.K. This may be the most hypocritical thing I’ve ever heard of:

    Petition to ban Trump from UK passes 250K, could be debated in Parliament

  12. Ed says:

    I would imagine he would wear it like a badge of honour, What American would want the approval of the red coats! lol

  13. slugbop007 says:

    Mr. Trump is very concerned with the bottom line, i.e. profits. So, maybe, just maybe, he just might loosen the antismoking laws around the country. And give a big kick up the backside of Public Health, the FDA, Robert Wood Johnson and all the other parasites living off this charade.

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