To understand Trump and Trumpism we must focus not on the why, or the what, but on the tactical how. For just as the invented persona of 80s icon Mr. T would take no guff so does the GOP’s 2015 Extreme! Mr. T out-alpha and out-anger anyone that takes his bait or challenges him.
Witness the obliteration of South Carolina’s plantation belle Lindsey Graham, who dared call Mr. T “jackass”. In response, Mr. T recited Lindsey’s personal phone number. To retaliate, Lindsey cut a commercial wherein he goofily breaks his own cellphone again and again. The ad was funny, but stupid because Lindsey responded to a punch in the face from the sandbox bully by doing a jester dance. It doesn’t get more beta than that.
The whole episode was infantile, but it was obvious who the strong one was: Mr. T! And thus the Graham Cracker crumbled.
Not all of Mr. T’s opponents are cowed as easily as Dim Lindsey. Sometimes, Mr. T wins ugly. Fox fox Megyn Kelly got treated to a Mr. T Twitter Troll roll of sexist blather for daring to point out Mr. T’s past sexist blather. Ultimately, Kelly didn’t respond to Mr. T’s assertion of Male Privilege (“… she had blood coming out of her wherever.”), but did skip town for ten days; I suspect, because the row caused her potentially serious threats. Similarly, difficult as it is to feel sympathy for a nimrod like Lindsey Graham, reciting his personal phone number was possibly dangerous for Lil’ Lindsey. When Kelly returned Mr. T re-opened fire (“The bimbo back in town…”). Memo to the chummy, self-obsessed press class: ask Mr. T tough questions and get harried and threatened.
Mr. T turned to White Guy Privilege to take down Jorge Ramos. Evicting Jorge from the press conference (“Go back to
Mexico Univision!), letting him back in, and deflecting Ramos’ sensical point that many immigrants actual enter the USA by train thereby undermining the efficacy of Mr. T’s ballyhooed border wall. Was Mr. T’s orchestration of Ramos’ mini-‘Deportation and Re-Entry’ (Mr. T’s immigration plan writ small) a suicidal dick move for the general election? Sure! But Mr. T wins again!
Mr. T plays offense by exerting Rich Guy Privilege, usually by saying that he knows someone (a celebrity, a finance big wig, border guards, lawyers) that has special knowledge about something. YOU do not know these Masters of the Universe, but Mr. T does. YOU do not participate in multi-million dollar law suits or mega-real estate deals or mega-bankruptcies, but Mr. T does. So there!
I’m not underestimating Mr. T. Not at all. He is quicker on his feet, funnier, and more interesting than his fellow cavalcade of conservatron clowns. Many of his disses are soooo true. Jeb!utante Bush is low-watt silver spoon mediocrity, Rick Peary is a dunce wearing “smart” glasses, and the economy of dummScott Walker’s Wisconsin sucks. Mr. T’s support appears to be broad across the various groups of bitter, Epsom salt-oriented white people that make up the GOP base. I hazard that this is because those that feel that they are having what is Mine taken by Them favor a man that berates and beats down all of the Thems that They throw at Him because that proves that He will not back down to all of those Other Thems that are taking what is theirs.
In boxing parlance, Mr. T is a brawler fighting in a small ring. No one will outbrawl him; but the tactics for a boxer-puncher to beat him are already apparent. Pick your spots, be prepared to get hit in exchanges, but punch more effectively by sticking to reality (Ramos almost did this on immigration, but Ramos was way too shaky — and to Mr. T’s credit Mr. T parried well) and forcing Mr. T to respond to substance with substance. Step back as Mr. T gets furious and flails, then wallop him again with more verbal onslaughts that require a cleverer comeback than, “you’re a bimbo!” In other words, the rest of the conservatron Royal Rumble bukakke needs to fight Mr. T with robust, substantive and precise oration face-to-face to win. Good luck with that! They are all too insipid and too hamstrung by goofball reactionary politics that are not much different than Mr. T’s hammy jingoism. Able reporters could corner Mr. T in a similar manner… and risk personal danger like Megyn Kelly or shaming like Jorge Ramos. (Ah, that little extra-oomph of intimidation!)
Mr. T cannot be knocked out until the GOP field is winnowed enough for an opponent to truly engage him. Oh irony of ironies, that may not happen for many moons because Citizens United bequeathed the ability for a single ultra-rich asshole to keep any one of these flailing buffoons around crowding the stage long after he (or she) has flat lined, thereby maintaining Mr. T as the biggest bull trout in a shallow, heavily polluted river.
For now, I pity the fool who thinks that Mr. T is not the favorite to win the GOP nomination!