By Jerry Mooney
You don’t have to search too hard to see there is a media infatuation with The Donald. Yes, he’s running for President and yes, he’s a high profile media figure, but why does he garner so much attention? Is it his clear and thoughtful policies? Is it his hairline? Is it his sophisticated understanding of complicated issues? The fact that he could buy Jabba the Hutt’s Palace with the change in his Limo’s ashtray? Nope.
Donald Trump is titillating the low-brow populace for one main reason: he’s a bully. He is publicly and unapologetically abusive in in three out of four of the classic types of bullying.
Verbally Direct: Trump gained popularity on his now-canceled show, The Apprentice, with his iconic catchphrase: You’re fired! Watching Trump abuse the show’s contestants was the TV equivalent of rubber-necking a traffic accident. There is a part of us that knows better than to watch, but that sensible part is over-ridden by our inner schadenfreude.
Verbally Indirect: (shaming) The Donald seemed to revel in his public abuse of Rosie O’Donnell. During his long-running feud, he insulted her constantly, including,
“Rosie's a loser. A real loser. I look forward to taking lots of money from my nice fat little Rosie.”
What is incredible is that you can’t even list all of the people Trump has offended. It’s not merely a one off with Rosie O’Donnell or a slip-up with Megyn Kelly. It’s immigrants, women, gays, Chinese, Mexicans, African Americans, Jews, Muslims...It’s almost impossible to list all of the targets of his abuse. And we continue to put a microphone in his face.
The crazy part of the Donald Trump phenomenon is that it violates common sense. When a public figure “gaffs” and says offensive comments, it is usually costly. But according to standard metrics of public relations effectiveness, Trump’s gaffs increase his popularity. Instead of being seen as an insensitive blow-hard, his abusive rhetoric is seen by his sycophants as “straight talk” and ‘brutally honest.”
Now, this isn’t everyone, but there is a loud and large faction of Americans who pine for the days of W and Cheney, when our foreign policy was reducible to two words: yeeeee haaaawwww! Meanwhile, those same folk consider Obama’s attempts at diplomacy weak, embarrassing, and ineffective (regardless of effect).
As I watch this reality show called a Presidential candidacy, I can’t help but see vestiges of WWE. The loud, obnoxious, and flamboyant participants attract their constituents by metaphorically hitting their opponent over the head with a folding chair or flying from a turnbuckle.
My hope is that Donald Trump is merely the newest Herman Cain: an entertaining buffoon feeding the slack-jawed yokels their political version wrastlin’. Either that or Trump taps Hulk Hogan for VP. That’d be too entertaining to resist.
Jerry Mooney is co-founder and managing editor of Zenruption and the author of History Yoghurt and the Moon. He studied at the University of Munich and Lewis and Clark College where he received his BA in International Affairs and West European Studies. He has recently taught Language and Communications at a small, private college and owned various businesses, including an investment company that made him a millionaire before the age of 40. Jerry is committed to zenrupting the forces that block social, political and economic justice. He can also be found on Twitter@JerryMooney