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Don’t Kick Donald Trump In The Nuts; Laugh At How Small They Are

January 22, 2016

AlinskyRidiculeI don’t know why “everybody still treat(s) Donald Trump with kid gloves“, as the headline to this Kevin Drum post asserts.  And, to the (minimal) extent I’ve paid attention to the Republican presidential race, I agree with Drum’s assessment that “no one has ever really tried” to attack Trump.

With one exception.

There’s one national political figure who’s not only taken on Donald Trump but also taken him down, and that’s President Barack Obama.

He did it at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner and in doing so offered a model for any of Trump’s current or future opponents.  (He also so thoroughly embarrassed and enraged Trump that this little episode may well have been a crucial factor in Trump’s decision to run for president this year…but that’s a topic for another day.)

Before looking at how President Obama did it, it’s worth noting what he didn’t do: he didn’t follow the course of action Drum recommends for Trump’s fellow Republicans:

I’m thinking of full-bore, kick ’em in the nuts, Willie Horton style ads. Ones where you get to frame the attack in as vicious and unfair a way as you want. Ads that will really hurt him.

To his credit (Drum is an impressively modest and self-reflective commentator) he quickly adds, “Would it work? Beats me.

Five years ago, President Obama took a different approach.  Instead of attacking Trump, he ridiculed him.

Trump—who had spent months traveling the country mocking Obama and questioning his citizenship—had to endure the president releasing an “official birth video” (the state of Hawaii had released Obama’s “long-form” birth certificate earlier that week), mockingly referring to Trump as “The Donald“, and suggesting Trump could now get back to “focusing on the issues that matter, like: Did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And, where are Biggie and Tupac?“.

Obama then piled on by getting the crowd to laugh at Trump’s “credentials and experience“.  He recounted Trump’s decision on an episode of The Celebrity Apprentice to fire Gary Busey rather than Lil’ Jon or Meatloaf, adding, “These are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night.

The crowd then burst out into uproarious, sustained applause…and that’s without them all knowing that President Obama, before leaving the White House that evening, had just authorized the secret raid into Pakistan to capture and kill Osama bin Laden.

Saul Alinsky’s fifth rule in Rules For Radicals* is: “Ridicule is man’s (sic) most potent weapon.”  Alinsky adds, “It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule.  Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.”  And it’s an especially effective tactic when used against a pompous, self-absorbed and self-inflating opponent.

My free advice (take it for what it’s worth) to Republican presidential candidates: Don’t kick Donald Trump in the nuts.  Laugh at how small they are.

*Why yes, Barack Obama was a community organizer as a young man.  Yes, he would have read Rules For Radicals. Yes, he learned from Alinsky-trained organizers.  Presumably this still infuriates Glenn Beck (even though he and Obama now agree Trump should not be president).


From → Politics

  1. Patrick Dober permalink

    Dear Mass Commons: Your Alinsky/Obama/Trump post: Hilarious, ingenious. One of your best ever. Keep ’em coming.

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