I cringe every time I hear someone lament Trump’s rhetoric, for one cannot understand Trump and his goals without understanding his rhetoric and how it works. Ultimately, Trump left his life of luxury to save the country, and yes, you can believe him when he says that America will never be a socialist nation. The presidency was a mere means to that end. The Wall Street Journal wants Republicans to win the next battle; Trump wants to win the war.
The key to understanding the tour de force that is Trump’s rhetoric, including his most inflammatory statements, lies in understanding that what he says is all calculated. Trump’s a quick decision-maker, but not an impulsive one. No one as impulsive as his tweets and public comments make him appear can win the Presidency, let alone stay in a presidential race for more than a single speech. Has he made mistakes? Sure, everyone does. He quickly retracted his 2016 statement that women should be punished for having abortions, obviously realizing he would need the votes of pro-choicers to win the presidency, for example. That said, his most inflammatory comments appear to have all been calculated, which is why he survived them politically. Since the early days when we wondered how Trump was defying political gravity, he has been operating at a level of political sophistication we’ve never seen before from a politician. Enjoy it now, because we will never see its likes again.
Take, for example, his very first soundbite. In his 2015 campaign announcement he notably said of Illegal aliens coming to the U.S.: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” The only way the media will transmit Trump’s message is if they believe they are damaging him by transmitting it. This genius line tricks the press into doing just that by calling these illegal aliens “rapists,” which obviously some of them are. In addition, he is showing as opposed to telling voters that he will stand up to political correctness. This hidden message reaches the voters, completely bypassing the woke mainstream media. Lastly, the final words keep the press from characterizing this line as an angry, unbalanced rant. A few weeks later, out came the polls showing Trump in the lead.
Other memorable soundbites include his remarks about Megyn Kelly, Carly Fiorina, and Heidi Cruz on the 2016 campaign trail, which effectively nullified Hillary Clinton’s attacks on Trump as a misogynist, and likely enabled his candidacy to survive the Access Hollywood October surprise. By the time of these attacks, Trump had already formed the concept in peoples’ minds of “Donald Trump the misogynist” so that later more damaging information, such as his remark about Miss Universe Alicia Machado’s weight or the Access Hollywood tape, were written off as old news.
He said of Megyn Kelly “She had blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her -- wherever” after she publicly confronted him about his past misogynistic remarks about women. Of Carly Fiorina he said in an interview printed on the Rolling Stone magazine website “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?” Of Heidi Cruz he tweeted a picture of Melania Trump’s face next to an unflattering one of Heidi Cruz’s and captioned the picture “The images are worth a thousand words.”
A closer look at these inflammatory soundbites reveal them all to have implied messages, which leaves enough deliberate ambiguity about what Trump “actually meant” to serve as a cushion that enabled him to skate through them. In the case of the Carly Fiorina comment, for example, he was able to publicly deny any negative implications of his words. There is no footage of him saying any of them, footage that could otherwise be shopped into attack ads. Notice also how he checks off almost all the boxes of major insults a misogynist would throw at a woman: she’s hormonal, she’s ugly; and of course, objectification. He notably never calls any of these women, all of whom were his adversaries in some fashion, fat. Considering that all his wives and daughters have been models, he is likely aware that to call someone fat is significantly more damaging than to call someone ugly. Why? Because of eating disorders. Plus, you can change your weight but not your face, which makes it a sorer spot for the many people who are insecure about their weight. Those who remain offended by these simple remarks should remember that these words helped keep predator Hillary Clinton far from the oval office.
I will acknowledge some truth to the notion that Trump is “divisive.” I suspect some of his language early on in his presidency sought to push the Left further Left and bring out the absurdity of woke progressivism for the public to see. We now see transgender individuals competing in women’s sports, raging, unabashed anti-Semitism, and a myriad of other atrocities and absurdities brought about by an enraged Left. This has predictably turned off a lot of voters, especially in the middle. We’ve seen the rise of the #WalkAway movement, which encourages liberals to walk away from the Democratic party. They’re not going back. Trump’s ulterior goal, unlike Barack Obama’s, is not to divide the country. Rather, he wants to unite it against the threat of left-wing progressivism. Disclosing the reality of the Left for the country to see is a necessary step to achieving this goal.
As we head into the 2024 presidential election cycle, don’t be afraid to think outside the box, like Trump, when it comes to his rhetoric. Just because his strategy may not be obvious doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Behind his public words are an extraordinary individual who seeks to wake the country up before the Democrats can obtain a monopoly on power in the United States. Like Lincoln, Trump will likely die having never gotten the credit he deserves for all that he has done for us. Instead, people will lament his rhetoric and complain about his “character” for years. But then again, Lincoln was thought by some to be an “idiot” in his day too.
Image: Gage Skidmore