Trump’s Tonight Show triumph
Donald Trump presented perhaps the most important policy presentation of his campaign yesterday to the Economic Club of New York, and yet it pales in electoral impact to his appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. No TV news operation, not even MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, could resist the video of an impish Jimmy Fallon asking and receiving permission to muss Donald Trump’s hair.
Whoever thought this up (and my money is on Kellyanne Conway) identified exactly the best leverage point to redefine Trump-the-candidate as not at all scary and mean, but rather a guy who is game. Watch the mugging for the camera that Trump does. He is having fun and is in on the game, making fun of his own peculiarities.
The contrast with Hillary Clinton could not be more striking. The nation saw her go stiff as a board and then collapse as she tried to get into her Scooby Van. And look at her just three weeks ago on the same set as the now famous hair-mussing.
I regret to my core that so many Americans make up their mind about presidential voting based on which candidate seems nicer. In my utopia, everyone would have the I.Q. and inclination to examine closely all the position papers and make a decision based on the merits. And geese would lay golden eggs, too.
But in the real world of contemporary American politics, superficialities, as mediated by what the TV camera loves and what it hates, determine vast swaths of the presidential electorate’s vote. And if you come across as stiff, arrogant, and snobby, well, that is what defeated Mitt Romney.
But this election cycle, Hillary Clinton is playing the role of the off-putting, arrogant, stiff candidate.
There have been some scary things said about Donald Trump. But now, in a clip every sentient American will see, he is revealed to be a teddy bear with a great sense of humor, a roll-with-the-punches kind of guy. The kind of guy you’d have a beer with, if he drank beer.
This could well be what elects him.