Trump triumphs over terrorists in battle of brands
When President Trump responded to the Manchester terrorists by calling them "evil losers," he predictably set off a wave of mockery on the left. That's a given. But on the respectable left, Uri Friedman of The Atlantic executed a ritual belittling of the branding as a "schoolyard put-down" before conceding that it was a "compelling strategy" and, in the last sentence of a 572-word article, stated that Trump is probably "right" to use the term.
When you've got the snobs conceding that Trump is winning, you know he's winning.
Scott Adams, the best analyst of Trump's rhetoric, explained why the branding is such a masterstroke:
If you think that's no big deal, you're wrong. It's a big deal. This is – literally – weapons-grade persuasion from the most powerful Master Persuader of our time.
As I have taught you in this blog, President Trump's clever nicknames for people are not random. They are deeply engineered for visual impact and future confirmation bias.
Scott Adams explains what he means by visual impact and confirmation bias. That alone is worth reading the whole thing, but there is a lot more.
Quickly, name one other way you could label/insult the Losers that would be as powerful as the word Loser. You can't do it with any other name or insult that is also repeatable in polite company.
What kinds of people join the Losers? Mostly young males. And you know what brand young males do not want on them? Right: Losers.
If you call them monsters, they like it. If you call them ISIS or ISIL they put it on a flag and wave it around. If you call them non-Muslim, it just rolls off their backs because they have Korans and stuff. Almost any other "brand" you can imagine is either inert or beneficial to Loser recruitment.
Loser is different. No one joins the Loser movement.
Here, note that another respectable left critique of Trump's loser label comes from the Washington Post: "Trump called terrorists 'losers' – the same insult he has thrown at CNN, Ted Cruz and many others." This is correct and shows that Trump knows what branding weapons work best. There aren't that many terms that resonate deeply with just about everyone. So Trump uses the good ones a lot.
Almost completely ignored in the battle of the brands was a stunning label bestowed on Trump by al-Qaeda: "The hateful Crusader master of the White House." The May 21 edition of al-Qaeda's official journal, the Al Nafir Bulletin, as captured (image below) and explained by Thomas Joscelyn in the Long War Journal, contains the branding epic fail of AQ (hat tip: Bridget Johnson of PJ Media).
[O]n May 21, al Qaeda published the 15th issue of its Al Nafir Bulletin (seen below). The one-page newsletter is devoted to Trump's visit. "The Al Saud rulers and all apostate rulers appear before us today in wasteful ceremonies to offer loyalty and renew their allegiance to the hateful Crusader master of the White House, Trump," the newsletter reads.
It seems to me that "Crusader master" is right up there with "Mad Dog" as one of those nicknames you get to reject and deny while secretly relishing the implied admiration. It is supposed to make Muslims reject Trump, but it is rendered powerless by Trump's rhetoric backed by the commitment to crush ISIS and AQ. Even if Muslims accept AQ's label, and think of Trump that way, if he wins, they have to accommodate.
Make no mistake: the commitments Trump got in Saudi Arabia have radically altered the support systems for violent fundamentalists. The momentum is working against them in ways it never has before.