That goes to an article at Vox by David Roberts that I have yet to read and that I'll take at its word. Maybe Roberts is lying and just trying to earn clicks for his site, but I'll assume it's really the reasons he scrapes together as he seeks to assure himself that it just cannot happen, Trump cannot become President.
It turns out to be a long article, broken up into parts, the first heading of which is: "Trump has one mode: dominance." To me, that's on its face wrong, because I've seen Trump in a mellow mode, like when he says that he's an educated, nice man who could be politically correct but it would be boring. It wouldn't work at this talk-to-the-base phase of campaigning, especially where a big strategy is to generate social media. I expect Trump's tone to evolve, just as all candidates pivot to the center after they get the nomination. Trump has spent his life working with people, mostly in a private communicative mode. It's absurd to think he doesn't know how to do more subtle things than what we've seen from the podium, aimed at crowds. The amazing thing is that as a novice politician he's done so well at campaign orations. I wouldn't conclude that's the only thing he can do. I'd infer he's good at whatever form of communication is called for under the circumstances.
But let's read what Roberts says:
One of the best things I've read this year about Trump's appeal is by Josh Marshall. It hearkens back to his (legendary in some circles) 2004 post about "bitch-slap politics."I must inject a side issue: "hearkens back" (or "harkens back") is wrong (though common): “An old sense of the verb hark (which mainly means to listen) was used in hunting with hounds, where the phrase hark back denoted the act of returning along the course taken to recover a lost scent." We're not talking about listening back. Sound, unlike smell, doesn't remain on the trail and can't be traced. So please say hark back or just use normal English like it reminds me of.
Back to Roberts:
Marshall has wisely abandoned that term...Roberts doesn't go down the rathole of why it was wise, and I'm not going to do his links for him. I'll just guess "bitch-slap" has been deemed offensive to bitches. The dogs are on the loose in this post.
... but the concept behind it has never been more relevant. It's about dominance displays, about showing, rather than arguing, that one's opponent is weak.That's overstatement, but even if it were true, it wouldn't mean Trump is permanently stuck in that mode. It would mean that he has correctly discerned what works at this stage. If more policy particularity is what will work at a different stage, I would expect him to figure that out and get some policies. Do you think it's hard to elaborate policies at whatever level of particularity is needed? He's in a better position to do that if he hasn't nailed himself down.
It's done not through critique but through attack — personal attack — demonstrating that the target will not or can not defend him or herself. The attack doesn't make the point, it is the point....
Though it makes pundits somewhat uncomfortable to admit it, most voters.... don't know much about "issues" and don't have well-defined political philosophies.... They are reading the subtext, attuned to who's aggressive and who's defensive, who's strong and who's weak, who seems like a leader and who doesn't.
Trump instinctively gets this. His innovation, if you can call it that, is to abandon the text altogether, bringing the subtext to the surface. "Toughness" is no longer a side dish, it's the main dish, the only dish. Trump will win because Trump wins. It's a post-truth, post-substance campaign, affect from top to bottom.
Speaking of particularity, I'm going to be writing this post all day if I continue at this level of particularity. And the Sunday shows are on now. Let me just tell you the rest of the headings: "Trump's shtick is a wild success ... among a certain subset of voters," "But the road to an election is too long to have only one gear," and "Trump's approach is not an act that he can turn on and off at will." I haven't read the details, but I feel that I've already essentially already responded to them in discussing "Trump has one mode." It seems our Vox writer has one mode, saying Trump has one mode.
What if Roberts's project had been to soothe readers who wanted to believe that Hillary Clinton will never be President? That could be done too. And yet somebody's going to have to be President. Roberts has a footnote at the end of his article. I have to go searching for the text with the asterisk. It's in the second paragraph: "Absent extreme and unlikely circumstances*, Trump will never be president." The footnote is:
* I can think of two scenarios that would fit the bill. One, Trump faces Clinton and, late in the race, something happens to render Clinton unelectable. Two, Trump faces Sanders and Bloomberg jumps in, splitting the left vote and throwing the election to Trump.And if that's reassuring enough to the readers who are sweetly clinging to their belief that Donald Trump can never ever ever be President, then, here, you need a lullaby:
Both seem highly unlikely to me, the first because Clinton is already the most intensely vetted figure in US politics, the second because Sanders is unlikely to win the primary.