It is, among other things, funny, to see two elderly rich guys like Trump and Bloomberg duking it out on Twitter. That was Maureen Dowd’s insight. It seemed like a good idea for a column, but she really didn’t have much to say on the subject. That did not, however, dissuade her from writing the column anyway.
Here’s my two cents’ worth.
An effective politician has a whole variety of skills. One of the most important is to know how to communicate—in particular, to know how to communicate in a whole variety of ways, as the the situation demands and as the audience changes.
Trump is a one-trick pony. He knows how to bully and insult. He knows how to inspire fear and loathing. But he lacks the capacity to persuade by rational argument.
Trump insulted his way into the Republican nomination. But before you ascribe magic power to his insult comic routine, think about the context. What was his message about folks like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz? The message was that they were a bunch of empty suits whose own constituents didn’t like them much, and probably hated their guts.
And what made those insults effective, with the audience to whom they were addressed? What made them effective was that the audience knew the conventional candidates were a bunch of empty suits, and they largely hated their guts already.
Hardy haar haar! That sort of thing makes for a really good belly laugh.
Some people you can terrify, at least some of the time. Some people you can insult, at least some of the time. And some people you can bully, at least some of the time.
And some you can’t. Trump loves to insult people for being poorer than him. But that line of insult isn’t going to work on a rival who’s the twelfth richest person in the world and who could buy you out a hundred times over. And, by the way, having told your own cult followers to worship you because you’re allegedly wealthy, how can you turn around and say that wealth doesn’t matter.
So, Mike, just twit away. That’s what I say.
But, if you can, you need to show me that you have the right policies and the right attitude. And you have to address all the bad stuff about your “baggage” that keeps coming out. You can’t ignore it, and you know you can’t ignore it.
In short, Mike, you got some splainin’ to do.