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Thursday, April 21, 2016

How to Beat Donald Trump

 photo Trumpbio_zpse5x4bloj.jpgI was interviewed about Donald Trump a few years ago - actually, about ten years ago, time flies when you're having a good time - and then quoted in and asked to blurb this 2007 biography of Trump, No Such Thing as Over-Exposure: Inside the Life and Celebrity of Donald Trump, by Robert Slater.

I admit that I admired something of Trump back then, or at least his success, which is why I was happy to blurb the book.   Slater thought I understood a bit of what made Trump tick.   I thought so, too, and think so today, when what makes Trump tick is vastly more crucial to our nation and indeed the world than it was a decade ago.

I told Slater, and he agreed, that Trump was motivated, to the point of being addicted, to two things. One has become obvious and all too well-known.  Trump is addicted to publicity.  He's the very embodiment of the principle that there's no such thing as bad publicity, aka the worst publicity is no publicity, and everything he's said and done since announcing his candidacy for President last summer proves this.   That was the sense of the title of Slater's biography of Trump.   No Such Thing as Over-Exposure.

But there's a second part to Trump's compulsion: he's addicted to winning. We saw the first major expression of this after his big loss in Wisconsin. He declined to appear on the Sunday talk shows, for the first time since November, the weekend after Wisconsin.

No candidate likes to lose.   But look at what Hillary did after her losses to Bernie - she immediately redoubled her efforts and media appearances.   Indeed, having lost a very difficult primary to Obama in 2008, she came back in 2016.   We've yet to see what Bernie will do in the future if, as now seems likely, he doesn't get the Democratic nomination, but so far he seems unbowed by the victories Hillary has mounted,   On the Republican side, Cruz and Kasich seem largely unfazed by their considerable defeats.

This analysis of Trump is of course now muddied by his big win in New York last night. But I think it will  prove out in the months ahead.  If Trump does not get the Republican nomination, I predict he'll kick and scream but do nothing more (though his supporters may riot), including not launching a third party effort. If he does get the nomination, and loses the general election, I predict we'll never see him run for office again. Trump's addicted to winning, and therefore hates losing with every ounce of his being.  That's why he traded so many of his companies off to bankruptcy - he'd rather leave the field than risk losing even more.

The way to beat Trump is, therefore, to beat him.  And although that might sound like tautological gibberish, I believe it has a deep grain of truth.  Trump has a glass jaw when it comes to losing.   It's why he sulked after losing Wisconsin.   He's probably won too many primaries to leave the political field any time before the GOP Convention.   But if he doesn't get the nomination, or does but loses the general election, we'll likely never see him on the ballot again.   That may be scant comfort, but it's something.

It may not be easy to stop Trump, but once that happens, I bet he won't be coming back soon, or ever again.

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