Don't Make Donald Mad
MAD (Mutally Assured Destruction) is a U.S. doctrine of reciprocal deterrence. That means the U.S. and Soviet Union can blow each other off the map, a prodigious deterrent for both. It’s also how Donald Trump campaigns.
In the “pre-Trumped” era, the group I’ll refer to as “the cabal” (GOP establishment [GOPe], media, and Democrats) lobbed nukes at conservatives at will with no fear of retaliation. This cabal routinely embarks on scorched-earth campaigns against conservatives to destroy any opposition. There’s never any fear of significant damage to their own troops, because they are bullies who prey on the weak, unarmed, and poorly matched.
But then Donald Trump came on the scene – a guy who dropped the knife and brought a gun to a gunfight. It’s hilarious to watch the cabal go down time after time, to see them hesitate to attack the Donald because they risk getting their own aristocratic butts kicked. Sure, they’re still talking about Trump, how crass and unpolished the man is, but they’ve gone from trying to shout him down to using their indoor voices, from all-out attacks in broad daylight to midnight raids.
From the start, Trump has called out failed politicians, exposed their inept business practices, and shined a light on the disaster that is this administration and Congress. He declared war on the cabal, exposed them for open borders, a failed economy, and castrated military. At Trump’s press conference to announce his candidacy, he fired the opening volley, the shot heard around the world, when he stated unequivocally that drug dealers, criminals, and rapists are pouring over our border. And it was on.
Governor Rick Perry was an early casualty. Trump criticized Perry for his handling of the Texas border – not a headline, just a criticism. Perry shot back, saying Trump didn’t know what he was talking about and that “Donald Trump does not represent the Republican Party.” But Perry’s responses were barely heard over Trump’s furor. Trump called Perry a dummy, said he should take an IQ test. He repeated again and again his charge that the former Texas governor did a “terrible” job securing the state’s border with Mexico. The cabal was shocked at Trump’s rhetoric. Who says these things in a presidential campaign? Trump, that’s who. Next?
Senator John McCain figured he was experienced enough to lob a few missiles over Donald’s camp. He did his tsk-tsk shtick on the major state channels about Trump’s border remarks. Trump immediately retaliated, broadcasting the fact that John McCain, this regal senator and statesman, graduated in the bottom of his class at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Ouch, that struck a nerve. McCain, thinking his senatorial armor made him impervious to attacks, stepped up his game. In an interview, McCain said that Trump had “fired up the crazies” when he held a rally in Phoenix, Arizona.
So Trump went into Terminator mode. At a conservative summit, Trump questioned the term “war hero” to describe McCain, a term used about every five seconds whenever McCain’s name pops up. The cabal went nuts – this is it, this is where they take Trump down. The papers hit the streets, the evening news obsessed over “Trump’s Waterloo.” Other candidates smugly chastised Trump and suggested he drop out of the race. And the cabal danced on.
But Trump didn’t fold. In fact, he doubled down. Oh, he did explain his remarks, but no one wanted to hear it. The cabal’s machine was in spin mode, and as anyone with a washing machine knows, spin mode gets faster and faster until it’s wrung out every last drop.
Still, Trump didn’t back down. The assault went on for days, but Trump held his ground.
Then a funny thing happened. After days of every politico on the planet demanding Trump apologize, McCain came out with multiple statements saying he didn’t want an apology. He stipulated that Trump owed the vets an apology, not him. For those not familiar with political warfare, this is a classic case of deflection. The dirty little secret is that the longer McCain stays in the news, the more his dark side is exposed: the Keating Five scandal, the “Gang of Eight,” and other tidbits from his past he’d rather not discuss. After all, he’s up for re-election in 2016, and even with all his cash, he can’t afford to have his sins publicized daily. So the McCain flap is fading. Next?
Ah, yes, Senator Lindsey Graham. Just re-elected in 2014, he’s safe for another six years, so he takes the lead. Again, thinking the title of “senator” makes him indestructible, Graham shot off his mouth and called Trump a jackass. Now, that wasn’t even a bomb – more like a hand grenade – yet Trump fired back with an ICBM. He started his diatribe by calling Graham a “lightweight” and an “idiot.” Trump reminded his audience that Graham’s registering only between 0% and 1% in the polls. Then Trump gave the crowd Lindsey’s personal phone number. The senator’s mailbox filled within minutes, and not with love notes.
As the smoke clears, we begin to see a change in the political class – more reticent, its members reluctant to be the next casualty. Of course, the cabal still has its media, and they’re not letting up. Maybe they think they’re too small to get Trump’s attention, that their columns or on-air comments aren’t enough to trigger a Trump response. But they should rethink their hit pieces. If there are any skeletons in these journalists’ closets, backroom deals with the government for access, anything that might drain the ink from their mighty pens, it could spell trouble. And make no mistake about it: Donald Trump can and will out those skeletons if pushed.
So for the political bomb-throwers out there, for their media pit bulls who publish propaganda, not news, you should think twice before launching your next attack. Trust me: you don’t want to make Donald mad.