May 7, 2016

"My best guess is that the public is primed for Trump to act presidential because it fits the 'bad boy turns good' movie we all have in our heads."

"Everyone likes Han Solo, the tough talker with the heart of gold. Trump is making that movie-like transition now, but don’t expect him to go easy on Clinton. The Clinton attacks will be vicious, but Trump’s overall vibe will still trend (spottily) toward presidential.... It serves Trump well to have it both ways at the same time."

Says Scott Adams, who also says Trump opponents who are calling him “dangerous” are making a mistake because "You know who likes dangerous men? Answer: Everyone."

This reminds me of something I heard Rush Limbaugh say on yesterday's show. He was saying that the new media shape their coverage in a manner that is like movie-making. They look for a main character with a quest and antagonists:
So, going forward, which story will the media find more interesting, Trump's or Hillary's?  Does Hillary even have a story?  Does anyone even care?... [The media] know what Trump wants.  They are fascinated with the idea, "Can Trump really get this?"  Because Trump, there's nothing professional about him.  He doesn't have a speechwriter, doesn't have a teleprompter. He doesn't have a pollster, he doesn't have a consultant, he doesn't have campaign staff. He hasn't been fundraising. He hasn't done anything you're supposed to do. Look what he's doing!  They are fascinated....

That's it.  The Republicans have never had, in their story -- conservatives, either, have never had... I'm talking this in a media context, now. They've never had an agenda or a story that the media would like them to have.  The Republicans are never anything but villains.  Whatever the Democrats want, yeah, they should get it.  We're for it! (interruption)  No, no.  I'm just saying, there may be ways unlocking this deadlock here in the way the media covers people, Republicans and Democrats, and there may be a way for Republican to change it around.  Trump may be showing how it's done, but I run great risks in saying that. 

42 comments:

harrogate said...

Wow. Adams really, really likes Trump, doesn't he?

Paco Wové said...

"He was saying that the new media shape their coverage in a manner that is like movie-making."

Sounds like he was copying from someone else, either Ace of Spades or Jonah Goldberg (who quoted Ace) or Instapundit (who linked Goldberg):

“Watching [MSNBC’s] Chris Matthews interview Obama,” Ace wrote, “I was struck by just how uninterested in policy questions Matthews (and his panel) were, and how almost every question seemed to be, at heart, about Obama’s emotional response to difficulties — not about policy itself, but about Obama’s Hero’s Journey in navigating the plot of President Barack Obama: The Movie.”

Paco Wové said...

"Copying" is too harsh. But the basic idea seems too close to be coincidental.

Michael K said...

I think Trump is inside the heads of every media person setting up permanent residence. They don't understand how this happened and it is probably outside their frame of reference so far that they will never get it.

The professional politicians like Ryan are probably in worse shape. "How did he do this?"

Cheney and Gingrich are realists and had it figured out for some time.

They've been out in the real world where they expect results.

shiloh said...

"Wow. Adams really, really likes Trump, doesn't he?"

And since Adams really, really likes Trump, Althouse really, really likes Adams. A+B=C.

Adams is totally fascinated with Trump and Althouse is totally fascinated with Adams. Indeed, it's totally fascinating er totally predictable.

damikesc said...

Yeah, the story MacGuffin isn't something Rush discovered

traditionalguy said...

Rush is still afraid of the mind controlled CruzBots. He is still tiptoeing up to the edge and stopping his monologue right before he says that Trump is the only real conservative pro American seen since Ronald Reagan left and the Connecticut Bush Family took over pretending to be Reagan disciples. There has been a gaggle of Reagan impersonators in GOP politics like Elvis impersonators in Vegas, with Cruz being the latest and greatest. But Trump is the real deal.

Derek Kite said...

I share Adam's fascination with how seemingly easy it is for Trump to walk away with this.

The second theory of holes is that something will fill it. The holes are the exquisitely and expensively educated minds of the middle and upper classes in the US. The best they could come up with are Jeb! and Hillary.

David Begley said...

This narrative might work if Trump had the discipline to turn into a good boy, After seeing him pile on Jeb Bush and Lindsay Graham yesterday in Omaha, I doubt it.

Terry said...

Dangerous? Compared to Hillary? Compared to Obama? Ironically, Trump is controversial because he says he wants to keep us safe from dangerous immigrants. Trump ain't talking about turning the Guantanamo inamtes loose or bringing them to the US for trial.
"Keeping Americans safe" is way, way down on the Democrat priority list. Somewhere below 'battery powered cars.'

shiloh said...

btw, is Althouse paying Adams a residual fee? It only seems fair.

EDH said...

Althouse said...
This reminds me of something I heard Rush Limbaugh say on yesterday's show. He was saying that the new media shape their coverage in a manner that is like movie-making. They look for a main character with a quest and antagonists: So, going forward, which story will the media find more interesting, Trump's or Hillary's?

Jonah Goldberg pointed to Trump's MacGuffin:

How would Trump win? The same way he won the primaries: by selling a more entertaining story.

About three years ago, the eponymous “Ace” from the legendary Ace of Spades HQ blog wrote a brilliant little essay on “The MacGuffinization of American politics.”

“In a movie or book, ‘The MacGuffin’ is the thing the hero wants,” Ace writes. “Usually the villain wants it too, and their conflict over who will end up with The MacGuffin forms the basic spine of the story.” The Maltese Falcon in The Maltese Falcon, the Ark in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the daughter in Taken: These are all classic MacGuffins.

Alfred Hitchcock apparently argued that it doesn’t really matter what the MacGuffin is, so long as the hero wants or needs it and it sounds important enough to justify the hero’s efforts. In Mission: Impossible III, we don’t even find out what the MacGuffin is, beyond being something very dangerous called “the Rabbit’s Foot.”

Ace’s insight was that the mainstream media covers Barack Obama as if he were the hero in a movie (with Republicans as the villains, of course). Whatever Obama wants — Obamacare, unconstitutional immigrant amnesty, the stimulus, a deal with Iran — isn’t important to a worshipful press corps. Whether policies are good or bad, lawful or unlawful, is kind of irrelevant. What matters is that the hero wants something.

“Watching [MSNBC’s] Chris Matthews interview Obama,” Ace wrote, “I was struck by just how uninterested in policy questions Matthews (and his panel) were, and how almost every question seemed to be, at heart, about Obama’s emotional response to difficulties — not about policy itself, but about Obama’s Hero’s Journey in navigating the plot of President Barack Obama: The Movie.” I think something similar has been at the root of Trump’s success. I can’t bring myself to call him a hero, but many people see him that way. Even his critics concede that he’s entertaining. I see him as being a bit like Rodney Dangerfield, constantly complaining he doesn’t get enough respect.


Read more at:
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/435034/donald-trump-hillary-clinton-trump-wins-entertainment-factor

Hagar said...

So, how will they play the story if Clinton. Inc. moves back into the White House?

Sebastian said...

"which story will the media find more interesting" Whatever story serves Prog power. Sure, Ace had it right, sure, the movie-style narrative is spreading, and yes, Trump is taking advantage of the new media. But story, or any story content, is strictly a tool. Progs are always on a quest for power, the meta-MacGuffin.

Limited blogger said...

The MacGuffin is something Ace has sussed out many times.

Paul said...

If one understands the concept of the OODA loop none of this is baffling. Rather it all fits together nicely and is quite predictable. And the obvious prediction is Trump will crush Hillary. That is if they both are on the ballot November 8th.

Terry said...

Gee, this looks kind of dangerous:
"Saudi prince: Getting nukes an option if Iran breaks deal"
http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/06/politics/saudi-israel-officials-talk-nuclear-u-s-/index.html
Another foreign policy fuck-up by team Obama/Clinton (with an important role played by Valerie Jarrett).

n.n said...

It's a simple formula: policies and leadership. Even when people approve of a candidates' policies, a disconcerting lack of leadership will render them nonviable. The historical evidence created an inertia for all of the established candidates and generally removed them from consideration. Then there are the known special and peculiar interests that further increase the drag of established candidates.

People are looking to conserve or restore a positive state, not unqualified progress based on selective and often chaotic principles. Material bribes, emotional coercion, and economic blackmail will only secure loyalty, force tolerance, and command obeisance so far.

M Jordan said...

The media is solidly liberal, but they are even more solidly believers in narrative over fact-based reportage. Trump offers a good story: rich guy with trophy wife on quest for ultimate social trophy: the presidency. Rush's point which was based on Ace's point is that liberal media couldn't care less about the details of a hero's Macguffin (the thing he wants). They care about how he goes about achieving it. And this is Scott Adams' longstanding belief that humans are not driven by reason but by emotion and that we live by movies which play in our heads.

What's really interesting to me here is that Rush is saying, let's go with it. Trump does narrative. Trump is the hero ... in this case a bad-boy anti-hero, but a hero nonetheless. Hillary is the hero you don't like. She's the hero of the book you don't finish. Rush thinks Trump's act is catnip to the media and that conservatives may, for the first time in a long, long time, have a narrative-obsessed media on our side do let's Go With Trump.

Paul said...

'which story will the media find more interesting" Whatever story serves Prog power."

Perhaps under normal circumstances. But what we have going on now is anything but. Trump is inside everyone's OODA loop and has them off balance and reacting to him. For once the media is not controlling the narrative.

You folks who think Althouse loves Trump are mistaken. She appears to be fascinated by the phenomenon but if you recall she voted for Cruz, who she detests, in order to help defeat Trump.

M Jordan said...

Sebastian: Progs are always on a quest for power, the meta-MacGuffin."

Nicely put.

Phil 3:14 said...

Yeah, but just like he did with Marla he'll cheat on us too. Sure now he says how much he loves us, how beautiful we are, how he'll buy some really fabulous gifts for us but it will so all be forgotten.

There's always a younger, prettier girl and let's face it, we all are sagging a bit.

James Graham said...

A truly successful Presidential aspirant would win his party's nomination without creating, unnecessarily, enemies within that party.

By that standard Trump is a failure. Any contestant in a zero-sum contest has to hurt his competitors but if he/she has an ounce of sense that is done without delivering gratuitous insults which "Mister" Trump continues to do.

Even professional athletes learn how to be gracious winners or at least to act graciously. Trump hasn't yet managed even to pretend and his inability to do so is not only worrisome it has surely cost him.

As an example this is what dreaming Trumpsters think: Ridiculing on television the eating habits of John Kasich will not have any cost, that John and his family and all his friends and all Republican Ohioans who voted for him will, in the privacy of the voting booth, nonetheless pull the lever for Trump.

Yeah, right.

Phil 3:14 said...

My Donald went to the White House and all I got was this stupid hat!

Paul said...

Dangerous in this case means threatening the order of the stablishment.

shiloh said...

"You folks who think Althouse loves Trump are mistaken. She appears to be fascinated by the phenomenon but if you recall she voted for Cruz, who she detests, in order to help defeat Trump."

She's fascinated with any theme/story that her 95/5 conservative blog will also find fascinating. And since her con flock currently finds Trump totally fascinating she goes with the flow as she must kowtow to her audience much like the media has kowtow'd to Trump.

And she'll go out of her way to try to make Trump more fascinating than he really is. But I will agree that Trump, a reality TV star/birther, winning the Rep nomination over a very weak/flawed field is still somewhat fascinating.

>

Indeed, her initial heartthrob in the field, Rubio, fell by the wayside quite early so Althouse had to change course and regroup on the fly. She's quite flexible!

Michael K said...

"And since her con flock currently finds Trump totally fascinating she goes with the flow as she must kowtow to her audience much like the media has kowtow'd to Trump."

The cluelessness of the ideological left is always interesting.

I should think you would be studying Venezuela and explaining it to us.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that (probably) Ace's idea of a "MacGuffin" is interesting here. Who has the more interesting quest - Hillary or Trump? I think Trump. And, he almost seems to go out of his way to make it more interesting. What is he going to say next? What is going to do next? Always exciting. What about Hillary? We know what she is going to do next - lie. So, the biggest questions about her is probably how blatant are her lies going to be, and who is stupid enough to believe them? She is almost an evil non-entity right now, not that much more interesting than Trump's Republican opponents were. Trump's quest is going to be hard, with so many predictions of a runaway victory by Clinton, which makes it that much more interesting to the public. Would she have posed for a picture of her with a taco bowl (and a picture of a previous spouse), using that as a prop to tell how she loves Hispanics? Wouldn't have crossed her mind. What is Trump going to do next? This is going to be the national discourse for the next five months - what is he going to do next on his quest for the Presidency?

The left loves narrative over facts. But, the narrative over that next five months is going to be Trump on his quest for the Presidency, his MacGuffin. Anything that they throw at him, will likely be seen as something that he has to overcome in that quest, and we will all secretly be rooting for him to do so. He has, essentially, taken over the national narrative. Should be interesting.

Bruce Hayden said...

I almost have to assume that this was intentional on Ann's part - with her next post this morning being: Did Donald Trump intentionally expose a photo of Marla Maples in a bikini within the cluttered frame of his taco-bowl Cinco-de-Mayo photograph? What will he do next?

mikee said...

I remember President Bill Clinton wagging his finger and pouting that he never had sexual relations with that woman, on live television to the entire world. And Hillary explaining that the accusations of sexual harrassment, rape, malfeasance, abuse of office, lying under oath, etc., etc., were all based on a VRWC.

I expect Trump to exceed my expectations of presidential behavior; all he need do is not repeat the Bill & Hillary "slime everyone to avoid blame" behavior of the past.

damikesc said...

Rush is still afraid of the mind controlled CruzBots.

Hope Trump does well without our votes. I doubt he will, but you never know.

Another foreign policy fuck-up by team Obama/Clinton (with an important role played by Valerie Jarrett).

You left out Ben Rhodes. Stunning that the press isn't curious who Rhodes "force multipliers" were, isn't it?

As for MacGuffins, tranny bathrooms is the current one. Just to give stragglers a heads up.


As an example this is what dreaming Trumpsters think: Ridiculing on television the eating habits of John Kasich will not have any cost, that John and his family and all his friends and all Republican Ohioans who voted for him will, in the privacy of the voting booth, nonetheless pull the lever for Trump.


I don't buy it.

Notice how Kasich dropped out so soon after Cruz?

It's because Kasich was never after Trump. He was there to stop Cruz. Nothing more. A shitstain on American politics is Kasich and his existence makes one question God's existence.

Ann Althouse said...

@EDH All the material you quoted is also in the Rush monologue (and at the link I put up). I think all that material is good, but didn't want to copy it all.

Ann Althouse said...

"I think that (probably) Ace's idea of a "MacGuffin" is interesting here. Who has the more interesting quest - Hillary or Trump? I think Trump."

The "MacGuffin" stuff is in the Limbaugh monologue, crediting Ace.

In a movie, a MacGuffin, as defined originally by Alfred Hitchcock, is something the audience DOESN'T care about, but that the protagonist cares about, and the audience cares about the protagonist — could be some document or sculpture of a bird or whatever.

The thing about the presidency is that we do very much care about it and should. So "MacGuffin" is a bit off here.

Fernandinande said...

'bad boy turns good' movie we all have in our heads."
"Everyone likes Han Solo,

An article beginning with two false statements probably isn't worth reading.

narciso said...

well who doesn't han solo, he was the rick blaine character carried into space, and his successors are mal reynolds and peter quill,

BrianE said...

As bad as his crude demeanor (if you want to characterize it as "bad boy behavior") is, it's his ridiculous policy statements that are more troubling.
His latest gaffe concerns defaulting on the US debt-- suggesting that the US government could just negotiate to reduce their value. Sure that could be done. It's called bankruptcy-- or in his case, threats of bankruptcy, a strategic business decision in his mind. Sleazy business model in my mind.

On the other hand, threats like this might give the Fed pause to continue propping up the US government's binge spending.

Bruce Hayden said...

The thing about the presidency is that we do very much care about it and should. So "MacGuffin" is a bit off here.

Except that the idea of a MacGuffin is that the plot to so many movies, books, etc. revolves around the hero seeking something, maybe an object, maybe a romance, etc., and that something is the MacGuffin. Involved in the plot is overcoming obstacles. Rush's (and Ace's) point, I think, was that so much of the coverage of the Republican race so far revolves around Trump seeking the nomination, what obstacles are put in his path, and surmounted. So much of it was from the point of view of how anything in the race affected his chances, and how he overcame it. And, it doesn't look like it is changing for the general election - their focus still seems to be on how he surmounts obstacles in his impossible climb to the Presidency. It doesn't hurt that he has been from the start, and continues to be, considered the underdog - that just makes the story even better. The media wants the story to be about Hillary, but it isn't any more. She isn't the one facing impossible odds, which, through pluck and determination, she is overcoming, but rather is looking more and more like just another object put in the way of Trump's quest for the White House. I think that this is a good part of what Scott Adams sees, and why he is so optimistic about Trump winning - by the end, a large number of Americans will likely be rooting for Trump to achieve his lofty goal.

Yes, the Presidency is something that most of those here care greatly about, and this shouldn't be affecting our views. But, the reality, I think, is that we are in a media world, where much of our nation's shared experiences involve the media. One of their points is that a good part of why Obama won was that his MacGuffin was being the first Black President, and by the end, many people, who logically should have known better (you?) were sucked into his quest, and didn't objectively view his strengths (few) and weaknesses (many). I care greatly about this, as do you. And, would vote for almost anyone to keep the Clintons from returning to the White House. I know how venal and corrupt Hillary is, and that she would threaten our Bill of Rights through her Supreme Court picks. But, most of America is far less engaged than most of those who comment here, and for many of them, the narrative of the quest is more entertaining, and, thus engaging, than the actual reality of the candidates.

Bruce Hayden said...

In regards to Obama, I think that it was Rush who talked about the interview of Obama by Chris "tingles" Mathews about the passage of ObamaCare. It apparently completely revolved around the obstacles that he was having to overcome, how he felt, etc., and didn't, apparently, even touch on the actual specifics of the legislation. And, if you think back, much of the press coverage of his Administration has been just that - how Obama is overcoming obstacles in reaching his goals. Little about the specifics of those goals, or, even whether or not they would be good for the country. Rather, they (with the exception of Fox News) have concentrated on the McGuffin side of the story.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Everyone likes Han Solo, the tough talker with the heart of gold. Trump is making that movie-like transition now, but don’t expect him to go easy on Clinton.

Remember: Han shot first.

cubanbob said...

Paul said...
If one understands the concept of the OODA loop none of this is baffling. Rather it all fits together nicely and is quite predictable. And the obvious prediction is Trump will crush Hillary. That is if they both are on the ballot November 8th.

5/7/16, 8:48 AM

Give the voters a choice between an old-school moderate Democrat and a corrupt Champaign Elitist Socialist and they will go for the old-school Democrat. It's really not that difficult to understand. This year there isn't a Republican in the general election.

Lydia said...

And the obvious prediction is Trump will crush Hillary. That is if they both are on the ballot November 8th.

Calling Biden. He's got a good story, too. As well as a mouth on him that can be very Trump-like.

Zach said...

He was saying that the new media shape their coverage in a manner that is like movie-making. They look for a main character with a quest and antagonists:

This is a riff on a great essay by Ace of Spades:
The McGuffinization of American Politics
http://ace.mu.nu/archives/345514.php

A MacGuffin only has one requirement: That it be important-sounding, so that the audience understands he hero isn't engaged in some trivial matter, but that the Stakes Are High. (Woody Allen inverted this rule in his parody espionage film What's Up Tiger Lily?, where the MacGuffin was a top-secret recipe for chicken salad.)

But an important sounding MacGuffin is just another way to increase the audience's emotional attachment to the Hero, not to the idea of possessing the MacGuffin.

And that, of course, explains all you need to know about the abnormal political situation we find ourselves in, and the Cult of Barack Obama.