Cool Hand Trump
There is a well known scene in the movie Cool Hand Luke where Luke (Paul Newman) is fighting Dragline (George Kennedy). Dragline is a heavier and more experienced fighter, and it doesn't take too long to knock Luke off of his feet. Luke gets up. Then, in even shorter order, Dragline knocks him down again. Once again, Luke gets up, and again Dragline levels him. And on it goes, down, up, down, up, down, up until the end, when Luke, barely standing, causes the resigned, defeated Dragline to walk away.
Sound familiar? We just saw this play out in the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. Hit again and again, counted out again and again, Trump kept getting back on his feet. While the Clinton campaign didn't just walk away, eventually, like Cool Hand Luke, Trump won the fight. Dumb luck? I think not.
We live in a world of victimization, where the cry of a victim provides a leverage for a complaint far out of proportion to any actual offense. Trump, to a great extent, seemed to know this, and – in part by design, in part by luck, and in part by a Cool Hand Luke persistence – he made this pay off.
Trump called attention to himself by being outrageous and by encouraging "them" to actually victimize him. Just as Luke stood up, ready to take yet another punch, the media and much of the public saw Trump as shooting himself in the foot, and they couldn't believe he kept coming back for more. Yet, with each new outrageous statement and each new concomitant media overreaction, he sapped the media's credibility, blow by blow, one punch at a time. Each media outrage over insignificant and even not insignificant complaints gave credibility to Trump's claim that the system was rigged. The more obvious the media pounding, the more of a victim Trump became. This was Cool Hand Luke's fistfight and Muhammad Ali's "rope a dope" combined in an exquisite way – the media personae did not see it coming and, even if they did, they could not help themselves, because each new opportunity to attack and demean Trump meant new headlines.
I believe that this was intended from the start. Just as Paul Ryan noted that Trump heard a voice in America that no one else heard, Trump correctly realized that Hillary Clinton was invulnerable only because the mainstream media (MSM) were both her line of defense and her most formidable weapon. I believe that Trump set out from the beginning to campaign against those media and to rob them of their credibility. Once that credibility was damaged, once that shield was lost, only then could Hillary become vulnerable.
Trump himself gave an insight into this strategy when, on August 11, 2016, he spoke with Hugh Hewitt. With Trump calling out Obama and Hillary Clinton as founders of ISIS, Hewitt noted that he would have said it differently from how Trump said it. Trump responded by noting that it was what he said that the media was actually talking about.
Clearly, Trump had serendipitous help. The WikiLeaks e-mails revealed some actual collusion between the Democrats and the MSM; the rigged system was real after all! The FBI investigation? Regardless of its outcome, the investigation itself legitimized Trump's claim of "Crooked Hillary." With Trump returning again and again to the fray, the media mask was ripped away. Now there was no longer even an attempt by the MSM to appear objective. As with passing the "Obamacare" boondoggle, the public be damned, the goal was now to drag Hillary Clinton over the threshold of the Oval Office by any means necessary.
Leftists like Bill Maher came to realize that they had overplayed their hand. In Cool Hand Luke, Dragline's strength, which had always won in the past, no longer mattered in the fight with Luke. Likewise, the left's Alinsky-inspired cries of "racist," "sexist," "misogynist," which were also usually effective, had been rendered almost mute. Like Luke, at the end of the beatings, Trump was still standing.