SYNDICATED COLUMN: Democrats Can Only Beat Trump By Out-Trumping Him

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At a water cooler or Starbucks near you, speculating about Donald Trump’s psychological state is America’s newest cultural obsession. Is the president crazy? Or crazy like a fox?

I don’t know. What I do know is that Trump’s Democratic opponents are doomed if they think they can beat him by acting reasonable. Haven’t they learned anything from Hillary’s disastrous “when they go low, we go high” shtick?

Point of order: what follows are musings about political strategy, not an impassioned “Trump is evil and here’s how to get rid of him” advisory column. If this makes you want to read no further, here’s the big reveal: Democrats are congenital wimps.

Still here? Awesome.

This Week In Trump (TWIT): the president accused ex-president/drone killer/kitesurfer/eight-figure author Barack Obama of having his phones tapped during last year’s election. Is he right?

I don’t know. What I do know is that corporate media is ridiculing Trump for “offering no evidence.” That phrase was in the New York Times’ headline. Nice qualifier; a similar expression of uncertainty would have saved hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives during the Bush-Judy Miller days. “Citing no evidence,” said the Los Angeles Times about Trump’s claim. Since when does that corrupt paper care about evidence? If you can see past its crazy tone and placement on Twitter, the substance of Trump’s charge is hardly outlandish.

True or false, Trump’s accusation is a blockbuster. Whether by design or coincidence, the resulting tsunami of coverage wiped the question of whether attorney general Jeff Sessions lied under oath about meeting with the Russian ambassador and whether he made any untoward promises during those rendezvous.

Political observers have noticed a pattern in Trump’s behavior. Whenever he’s under fire, Trump does something bigger and more outrageous.

Magically, Trump’s troubles go: poof!

“Grab them by the pussy,” Trump was caught saying on video just before his key second debate against Hillary Clinton. “You can do anything.” Seasoned politicos, including your humble narrator, thought his campaign was all over. So Trump invited three women who’d accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct to attend the debate. It was a gangster move. A WWE move. And no one could stop talking about it.

Goodbye PussyGate, hello White House!

Again, I’m not weighing in on Trump or his policies here. This is about politics and human psychology and how Trump understands them better than the Democrats.

It has been suggested to me by frustrated Democrats and progressives that Americans should be reminded that the Real Issue is Jeff Sessions’ lying about Russia. They say that the media ought to ignore Trump’s accusation against Obama.

Sorry, guys. That won’t work.

Asking the media to throw shade on PhoneTapGate is insane. Interest in our wild and crazy president is Making the Media Great Again! Newspaper circulation is up for the first time in decades! So are broadcast ratings — because TV cable news covers stuff like this.

There’s only one way to beat crazy: with more crazy.

As one of the few lefties to publicly humiliate the hectoring bully Sean Hannity, and one of the few lefties Ann Coulter is scared to debate, I’m beginning to think I’m the only person in American politics who understands what it would take to take on a loudmouth like President Trump.



More over the top.

Love does not Trump hate. It certainly doesn’t Trump Trump.

Trump trumps Trump.

If I were running the DNC, I’d replace the party’s milquetoast rhetoric of watered-down feints with full-bore Trump-style attacks.

Bad: “I am going to be sending [Jeff Sessions] a letter to have him explain himself.” (Al Franken)

Lame: “This is a very real & serious threat to the national security of the United States.” (Elizabeth Warren)

Better But Not Good Enough: “He has proved that he is unqualified and unfit to serve in that position of trust.” (Nancy Pelosi)

To beat Trump, you have to out-Trump Trump with talking points the media can’t ignore and people can’t stop talking about. Here are some lines that might make Sessions the story again by washing away Trump’s TWIT distractions (the alleged Obama tap and Trump’s Muslim Ban 2.0).

Good: “Jeff Sessions is a traitor. He should be locked up in prison, now.”

Better: “Let’s say Sessions is telling the truth. Let’s assume Jeff Sessions can’t remember meeting with the Russians. Then he’s a goddamn idiot and too stupid to be attorney general. Why is Trump appointing morons to the cabinet?”

Best: “Of course Obama tapped Trump. Snowden told us. Obama tapped everyone! Which is how we know Sessions is a traitor!”

These sample talking points would be scurrilous. They would be unfair. They’d play fast and loose with the facts.

But they’re the only approach that would work.

(Ted Rall is author of “Trump: A Graphic Biography,” an examination of the life of the Republican presidential nominee in comics form. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)


  • Thank you, Komrade Trumpski: You’ve got Ted writing & drawing like I haven’t seen since the Bush admin. Sic’im Ted!

    > Trump trumps Trump.
    If someone’s stumping for Trump, are they a strumpet? Trump Pet?

  • So, all them wimpy Dems need to upgrade to a larger caliber asshole without noise-suppression. It’s a lot like WWE, while we know the wrestling is fake, the athleticism certainly is real and takes years of practice to be any good at it. By the time you’ve Trumptized the most valuable part of your base, they will then become converts and the Dem brand will throttled.


    • … be throttled.


    • @Dan – I like the analogy. It did take Duh Donald years of practice to get where he is today. And like professional wrestling, there are a lot people who don’t realize it’s all a show.

      But unlike professional wresting, the spectators’ gullibility has real-life consequences.

      • CH,

        It’s not just a show, it’s a dance. Almost as (or perhaps even more?) complex than Kabuki theater. Democrap, Repug, Independs, they’re all working the greater population together. Meanwhile, we (me, you, everybody who’re not part of the “club”) are supposed to chose a side, and like the Stuporbowl, keep cheering until all the money runs out … for us that is. It’s a competition where everybody loses, especially the “winners.”

        Mixing it up, and blowing it out. At least T-rump is doing what he said.


  • alex_the_tired
    March 6, 2017 6:56 PM

    The reality of politics is that Ted is right. Had the Democrats been consistently returning results, they could have “gone high road.” But they have not. All the metrics that matter to the middle class are down. There are fewer jobs (by “jobs” I mean JOBS. Not working part-time at McDonald’s or finally crossing into the 35-hour week at the Walmart. I mean a job with benefits, raises to keep up — at least — with inflation). People cannot buy homes (home ownership is lower than ever). College tuition is exorbitant (and going up).

    And, even worse, when you tell a Democrat the above, they practically have kittens. “Unemployment’s very low. 300,000 jobs were added to the economy last month.” Unemployment is low due to statistical trickery, and I don’t mean tinfoil hat stuff. If, tomorrow, 10 million people lost their jobs, the unemployment would go up by, I guesstimate, 7 percentage points. We’d have about 12% unemployment. Everyone would collect benefits for six months. And six months and one day later, the rate would drop by 7 percentage points, and we’d be back to 5% unemployment. Did they all get hired? Nope. They’re all still sitting on their couches. But they are no longer counted.

    Those 300,000 new jobs? Let’s say 300,000 of those 10 million people (who were making about $50,000 a year) get hired at retail/fast food places. They’re now making $10 an hour each, for a yearly income of about $20,000. You do the math on that. I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell would not be able to survive a 60% pay cut.

    That’s why the Democrats hate the Democrats. They aren’t just liars, they’re really crappy at it.

  • transcendentape
    March 6, 2017 11:28 PM

    I do not disagree with your point that the only way for Democrats to beat Hair Trump is to out-trump Trump. However, I am left wondering why liberals should bother fighting that game? Call me an idealist, but I’d prefer to vote for a party that ensured that blowhards couldn’t hi-jack our political institutions. I don’t see any evidence that either party is willing to accept that role in spite of the historical evidence that neither of them can maintain power long-term.

  • Ted, you missed one aspect of “the Obumma legacy.”

    Sure, he is a drone killer/kitesurfer/eight-figure author but he is truly unique, both as a US president and in modern history, itself, for being the ONLY Nobel Peace Prize winner to have bombed another Nobel Peace Prize winner. Re-fucking-markable!

    Hardly an achievement that will be equaled, much less surpassed, for quite some time.

    (See and note 2009 and 1999 laureates.)

  • Democrats lead their followers in the subtle art of following while appearing to lead.

    Democratic “leaders” excel in running to the head of any parade or movement when sensing a changing direction in public sentiment, but they fear taking a new direction on their own initiative, being without the confidence that as leaders they will soon have followers that follow them, among both the elected and the electorate. Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump demonstrated with some success the leadership that the Democratic Party as a whole lacks.

    Elected Democrats are congenital wimps, and in being so they will comfort, in their losses, their followers, those being the most well adapted to, and compliant in political and corporate life, and so Democratic voters find the congenital wimpery of elected Democrats to be most easy to identify with, as they most easily lead those learning to bow and scrape by their example before Republicans. No Republican president would have allowed their constitutional right to appoint a Supreme Court justice be stripped from them even if they had only a week left before leaving office.

    People who vote Democratic Party identify most closely with those who seem to be trapped in the same conformity as their Democratic Party leaders, with respect to the Republicans who reach unbound by law and propriety to act above the law and who act with disregard to the interests of the majority of the electorate.

    • And the Democrats are still blaming the Russians (without evidence) for interfering with their own interference in the campaign of Sanders.

      Democrats stole the candidacy of Hillary from Sanders fair and square, the American Way.

      Now they are accusing Trump of blaming (without evidence) the Democrats for trying to interfere with his candidacy.

      Maybe the Democrats did have access to Trump’s communications and they find it easier to blame the Russians before the evidence is in. Because the fake news media never changes its story once they publish a lie.

      Each party of the duopoly presents its own fake news to their most compliant stenographers to power.

      The primary objective of each party is to keep evidence of their mutual cooperation from voters. Their objective is not to change the system, but to conserve the state of the system with the singular exception of which party’s oligarchy is to reap the greatest benefit.

  • Boy, would I love to see a debate between you and Ann Coulter. (Should it happen, try not to outshout each other as happened with you and Hannity. That’s hard to follow.)

    • It seems Hannity had ends of his alimentary canal switched at birth.

      What other reason could there be for him to be talking out of his ass?

      • I hear it all the time, and I have to wonder how people can buy into the idea that “our freedoms” are being defended in Afghanistan or Iraq.

        It’s true that men and women in uniform are “serving their country”; but “defending” it? Bullshit!

        I served in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1969 (during the Vietnam War) — it had nothing to do with “defending” the United States or the U.S. Constitution.

        Why would anybody accept this propaganda as valid? Brainwash?

        (I’d still like to see a debate between Coulter and Rall!)

      • “How people can buy into the idea that “our freedoms” are being defended in Afghanistan or Iraq.”

        By Hannity’s logic, if Ted is being shut up by the “LA Fake News” it’s because there haven’t been enough people killed half a world away, and if only there were more dead there then Hannity would have listened to what Ted had to say.

        Hannity seems to have a hard time differentiating between making a sacrifice and being sacrificed.

        I bet that puke never spent one day of his worthless life killing people to justify (by his own standard) his public voice.

  • If Ms Warren really believes that Mr Session’s conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States constitute «a very real & serious threat to the national security of the United States», then the so-called «progressive wing» of the Democratic party might just as well roll over and die, that is, if its protagonists inability to detect McCarthyism and willingness to participate in witch hunts don’t conclusively demonstrate that it already has done so….


    • You’re confusing me. I can think only in straight lines. 🙁

      • Straight lines for thinking in seem to be in short supply in both wings of the US Democratic Party these days, mein verehrter Lerher….


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