Friday, July 10, 2015

Trump vs. Perry: Show vs. Substance

Donald Trump is having his moment. And quite a moment it has become. His flamboyant bombastic style seems to be just what America was looking for. If it sounds like the unalloyed truth, that merely shows what has been passing for political debate in today's America. 

In truth, it is not going to last, because there’s nothing behind it. Trump is speaking for those whose voices have been silenced, but he lacks experience in government and does not understand enough about policy to present himself as a viable presidential candidate.

Last night on Sean Hannity he was repeating his talking points, points that are getting stale from overuse. His major qualification, that he has negotiated business deals with China is an empty boast. He can negotiate a business deal because he knows his business. He has extensive experience and he knows the details. You cannot, by definition, have a masterful command of business and trade while at the same time having a masterful command of the intricacies of government-to-government negotiation.

It’s not as though Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have never dealt with empty blowhards before.

By now, Republicans are holding their breath. Trump has the potential to seriously damage the Republican Party and make Hillary Clinton the president, especially if he chooses to run as an independent. For now he is refusing to rule out the possibility, and that is alarming, to say the least.

For now his message is resonating. Peggy Noonan asked some non-Republican friends for their reaction. She explains:

… two independent voters and one Democrat (they are all working-class or think of themselves that way) volunteered to me this week how much they like him, and why. This is purely anecdotal, but here’s what they said:

They think he’s real, that he’s under nobody’s thumb, that maybe he’s a big-mouth but he’s a truth-teller. He’s afraid of no one, he’s not politically correct. He’s rich and can’t be bought by some billionaire, because he is the billionaire. He’s talking about what people are thinking and don’t feel free to say. He can turn the economy around because he made a lot of money, so he probably knows how to make jobs.

Trump has gained traction because, as I said in a previous post, he feels like the antidote to Obama, the antidote to the bullying, hectoring atmosphere that has infested the media and the academy during the Obama years. He is standing up to the politically correct juggernaut and is being punished for as much. Compared to most, he can afford it, but the assault on Trump by the radical left has certainly burnished his brand.

Trump is resonating in a world whose political culture has been defined by Barack Obama. Like it or not, Barack Obama, no less than Donald Trump, is not a serious man.

In Noonan’s words:

Mr. Trump is not a serious man, which is part of his appeal in a country that has grown increasingly unserious.

He’s a showman in a country that likes to watch shows—a country that believes all politics is showbiz now, and all politicians are entertainers of varying degrees of competence. At least Mr. Trump is honest about it.

He capitalizes on the fact that no one in America trusts politicians anymore.

I have no idea why Noonan does not give President Obama “credit” for the deplorable state of public discourse in America, but, it is not mine to judge.

As the Trump candidacy gains traction, the Wall Street Journal has now editorialized on the man who looks like the Democratic caricature of Republicans.

To begin with, the Journal explains that Trump is not a conservative:

But in any case he’s a political fad who will fade as voters learn that he’s no conservative. He donates money to Democrats because he says “you’re gonna need things from everybody,” which is not the best tea party appeal. He loves corporate welfare, especially government seizure of property so he can build his properties. He gives no evidence of knowing anything about public policy, other than he’d stand up to China and the menace of Mexico—though he concedes that “some” Mexicans “are good people.”

If Jeb Bush, with his squishy and sentimental attitude toward illegal immigration has been hurt the most by the Trump candidacy, Governor Rick Perry has seized the opportunity to present himself as a serious candidate.

Perry is the only candidate who has responded effectively and substantively to the challenge Trump represents. After all, Perry has what Trump does not have: government experience. The question has been: how to highlight the difference.

After giving a widely praised speech about the Republican Party and race, Perry has now offered a precise and detailed plan for closing the border and stemming the tide of illegal immigrants.

At the Commentary Contentions blog, Noah Rothman writes:

In a video released by Perry’s campaign on Wednesday, the former Texas governor took the opportunity to highlight his own considerable record addressing border security and immigration-related affairs in his three terms as governor of one of the Union’s largest states. Perry took the time to detail the steps he has taken, and those that will be necessary, to effectively stem the tide of illegal immigration. It was, as attorney and RedState contributor Dan McLaughlin submitted, a Republican Sister Souljah moment.

Rothman compares Perry to Trump and he is clearly comparing show with substance:

While the reality television star sells disenchanted Republican primary voters on the notion of a great wall of the Rio, constructed at no taxpayer cost, which would alone succeed at keeping border-crossers out where other barriers have failed, Perry identified the effective, human elements necessary to halt the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S. He also projected a sincerity Trump lacked when accurately noting that citizens of Mexican descent are an integral part of the American social fabric. Such comments may sound trite, but these are the wages demanded of a party that elevates a figure like Trump to frontrunner status – however fleeting that condition might be….

Since entering the race for the White House, Perry has been turning in a string of stellar performances. The rest of the Republican field would do well to take a page from his playbook.


Ares Olympus said...

On the "show vs substance" debate, I wonder what is substance? Is it what comes out a politician's mouth when they speak from the hip, or when they have a speech writer's word-craft to carefully say something that sounds profound, but really just side-stepping saying anything at all.

I read this book review this morning from an unhappy speech writer, and wow.
“For a long time the job of the speechwriter had sounded romantic to me,” writes Swaim, who came to the position from the academic world. “The speechwriter, I felt, was a person whose job it was to put words in the mouths of the powerful, who understood the import and varieties of political language and guided his master through its perils. . . . A speechwriter has all the gratification of being a writer but had political power too.”
The nature of politics is to subtract meaning from language, Swaim understands, but he develops a relatively benign philosophy about political speech: “Using vague, slippery or just meaningless language is not the same as lying: it’s not intended to deceive so much as to preserve options, buy time, distance oneself from others, or just to sound like you’re saying something instead of nothing.” And politicians resort to such devices not out of deviousness but simply because every day they must weigh in “on things of which they have little or no reliable knowledge or about which they just don’t care.”

So perhaps this is why Trump's "show" beats other politicians' "substance". At least you know what you have when you have Trump - a child who has billion of reasons why he can continue acting like a child.

priss rules said...

What is this Path to Citizenship?

If it is so important that illegals be turned into citizens, I have a much better solution.

A easier and cheaper PATH TO CITIZENSHIP.

Send all Illegals back to the countries where they are already citizens.

Problem solved.

Kaiser Derden (aka TDL) said...

"You cannot, by definition, have a masterful command of business and trade while at the same time having a masterful command of the intricacies of government-to-government negotiation."

Stuart ... how would you know if that is true ? what if they are identical ? what if alot of Trump negotiations involve governments either international or local ?

You simply are "hoping" that they are different so you can disqualify Trump ...

if being substantial only requires publishing policy papers then maybe your definition needs to be fixed ...

I get that you like Perry ... that's great ... but you realized that Trump has stolen the march on Perry vis a vi immigration and you are trying to kneecap him to allow Perry to catch up ...

weak tea ... promote Perry ... and not by having him stand on someone else s shoulders ... today its Trump but tomorrow you'll have to do the same thing Walker or Cruz or Rubio ...

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I think that Perry, among the (too many) Republican candidates has offered the most substantive remarks and proposals about immigration and race. Trump has never worked in government... at all. Even Obama had more experience with the government. I do not see how someone who has never worked in government can really know how government works and can direct it as he wishes. Since he has not had the time to inform himself about the complexity of the issues that a president deals with I am not optimistic that he will be able to function as president. Keep in mind Trump runs his own organization, a place where he can impose his will on others. When he finds out that he cannot run the government in the same way, what is he going to do about it. I do think that Perry is qualified, though probably the man with the best resume is John Kasich... even if he has taken some positions with which I would disagree. And besides, how does anyone know that Trump would govern as a conservative? Who would he be likely to appoint to the courts?

Larry Sheldon said...

The simple truth, hard fast and solid, is the Trump has the GOP side of The Party scared [word for fully prepped for a colonoscopy].

I don't see clear evidence that Trump's background is any poorer that Obama's--who as near as I can tell never earned a pay-check, much less made a payroll.

Sam L. said...

Trump can say what he will and speak the truth as he sees it, and a lot of us admire that, but we don't admire The Donald.

Dennis said...

I agree with Sam L. In fact Trump's tendency to speak the truth as he sees it, rather inartfully, can and will do a considerable damage to his ability to conduct the people's business. I get the distinct feeling that Trump is as narcissistic as Obama without the ideological blinders. If there is anyone who uses the word "I" more than Obama it has to be Trump. The words we tend to use the most tend to define who we are as a people.
The fact he will not run a third party candidacy tells me that Trump is only interested in Trump which I suggest he would rather see Hillary in office than anyone other than himself. The fact that he keeps alluding to the statement that "many people want him to run" cause me to wonder if many of those people are democrats and Hillary supporters who see a Trump third party run as the only way Hillary can win.
I like Trump's candidness but one has to understand that there are many cases where "discretion is the better part of valor." I haven't seen any indication that he knows the difference.
I like Perry because he has demonstrated the ability to get elected and govern a state like Texas that is very diverse. Perry is one of the GOP candidates that shows real promise, but like the others I will reserve judgment until I see and hear more about where he stands on issues and his ability to stand in the arena and be successful.

Dennis said...

I sometimes stop commenting because I find myself using words that demonstrate that I am getting too involved with an issue. For your edification on a subject that strains credulity:

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks for the link. IAC also put it up this morning... in the comments on an earlier article on climate change and Ivar Giaever.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Si. Some of my best AGW stuff yet.

Dennis said...

Stuart and IAC,

This does a nice job of explaining what I was making a point of in asking a couple of questions that seemed rather elementary.
The diagrams are close enough to demonstrate many of the variables involved and the math is understandable. The tilt of the earth does NOT stay stationary. Now if we could get people to visualize the many complex variables involved it would go a long way to putting the lie to AGW. We would have to have a system with a lot more consistency in order to make the rather unscientific pontifications of the Church of What's Happening Now. This includes a Church that seems to involved in rebuilding, much like Russia, a long past glory.
The universe does not provide us with these nice simple answers and in many cases leaves us wondering, but isn't this what true science recognizes and constantly seeks to understand.

Dennis said...

To expand on my prior comments. Please note some of the comments for they are very good. The Sun's orbit around the center of the Milky Way is no more consistent that the Earth's. Sorry if I get to involved in this subject. Science is far too important to be left to scientists> Seems strange to state, but in the long run true given the lack of knowledge unknown.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you, Dennis. Surely the most cogent objection to the theory of anthropogenic global warming lies not in the fact that the earth may or may not be getting warmer,but in the fact that too much of the science systematically ignores the possibility that there are other factors influencing climate... beyond Al Gore's exhaling and cow farts.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Yes, although flatulence is a powerful contributor to many phenomena, including the olfactory discomfort of others.