Way back in the fall I wrote about Dilbert comic creator Scott Adams’ perspective on the just-beginning presidential race. Way back then Adams was telling anyone who would listen that Donald Trump was not the buffoon that the media was making him out to be; in fact, Adams argued that Trump was actually a rhetorical ninja and brilliant politician. Here’s part of what Adams had to say:
I see a flamethrower, the flamethrower guy wins in a stick fight…
The idea of the Master Wizard Hypothesis says there are some people in the world, living people, masters of persuasion, they’ve got a linguistic gift for influencing people. And they are using actual techniques.
What I [see] in Trump is someone who was highly trained. A lot of the things that the media were reporting as sort of random insults and bluster and just Trump being Trump, looked to me like a lot of deep technique that I recognized from the fields of hypnosis and persuasion.
This past week HBO’s Bill Maher had Adams on as a guest to talk about the next stage of the presidential campaign. And Adams was once again singing Trump’s praises, rhetorically speaking. Adams still maintains that Donald Trump knows exactly what he is doing, even when the media believes he is making a mistake, Trump is actually a couple of steps ahead of everyone else.
Here’s what Adams had to say: (Be forewarned – Maher’s speech can be offensive.)
I’ve been studying persuasion for decades and when I saw Trump last summer displaying the tools of persuasion I thought, ‘Oh my God, he’s not a crazy clown. Everything he’s doing, including his complete ignoring of the facts, is persuasion perfection. I called him to be the landslide winner in the general election last year.
Essentially he’s basically bringing a flamethrower to a stick fight. There’s nobody using the same tools that he’s using. So his complete ignoring of facts are actually part of the persuasion because he doesn’t give you targets. He doesn’t give you details of his policies, usually. So he’s reducing the number of targets while making you feel good and focusing on the things he wants. So it’s not about facts, it’s about focus and attention.
So, what do you think? Is Adams right? Is Donald Trump an undercover genius?