Professor warns pundits and intellectuals against underestimating Trump

I give a lot of credit to Hugh Hewitt for taking Donald Trump seriously and going beneath the superficialities of the journalistic-entertainment-academic consensus that he is erratic, off the cuff, lacking in nuance, and in danger of screwing up everything because he is so ignorant.  A credentialed and tenured professor (a well as talk show host), Hewitt was initially adamantly opposed to Trump but changed his mind.

Writing an op-ed in the reflexively anti-Trump Washington Post, Hewitt sees that there may be a method to his actions, one that eludes minds accustomed to dismissing him as a buffoon.

He begins with an observation that ought to be kept firmly in mind when evaluating Trump:

Is it better to be thought a lightweight and dismissed by rivals if you are in fact talented, ambitious and ready to strike? To be thought clueless when in fact you have a plan?

This brings to mind the triumph of the Trump campaign in data mining.  Was there anyone publicly proclaiming, prior to his victory, the sophistication of the Trump campaign’s knowledge of exactly which voters it needed to target?  Certainly we can agree that the Hillary campaign was lulled into complacency because Trump was such an obvious amateur.

So we have established the principle that Donald Trump does indeed cultivate a false sense of invulnerability in his counterparts when it suits his purposes.  This raises the likelihood of him having strategies and plans that are not readily obvious.

With this in mind, Hewitt speculates a plausible Trump strategy for Russia.

What if President-elect Donald Trump is playing the Russians and Vladimir Putin as effectively as he played the U.S. media throughout 2015 and 2016?

What if the incoming president has a strategic vision that views China, Iran and radical Sunni Islamists as far greater threats to U.S. national security than Russia is? Even if Russia is rightly understood, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) put it after President Obama’s imposition of sanctions, as “not our friend,” and is “guilty, guilty, guilty” of interfering in our election and harassing our diplomats, as I and most conservatives believe? (snip)

… anyone who believes retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, Trump’s nominee for defense secretary, isn’t thinking about the massive problem set willed to 45 by 44 in the context of a grand strategy aimed at the slow and patient reconstruction of American power and leadership isn’t paying attention.

The entire article is well worth reading.  Like me, Hewitt’s professional life brought him in contact with business people – a species dimly, if at all, understood by pundits and intellectuals:

To be a successful real estate developer is to commit to speed and risk, and to always be looking for the next deal. It sometimes means a dizzying change of course and often a partnership with an old competitor, even one with whom swords had been crossed. The next deal was always far more important than an old grudge. It is itself a strategy not to be bound by the battles of the past or by precedents.

So Hewitt is in effect warning Putin that Trump is not the buffoon the American media portrays him to be.  He is trying to lull Vlad into complacency.

I’d be worried about this if I didn’t believe that Putin needs no such warning.

Hewitt is really warning the staff at the Washington Post, the pundit class, celebrities, and the Trump-hating voting public that they continue to underestimate Trump at their peril.

Hold on at least to the possibility that the gloomiest pundits and reporters are as wrong about Trump’s capacity to govern effectively and constitutionally as we all were about his ability to win. It isn’t like the chattering class hasn’t been completely wrong before.

Fortunately, they will ignore him.