September 18, 2015


What Italy Can Teach America About Donald Trump (Beppe Severgnini, 9/18/15, NY Times)

[A]s an Italian citizen who has experienced a demagogue in chief and survived, I feel I should help the American people come to grips with Candidate Trump, in order to prevent him from becoming President Trump.

First, for the skeptical, don't underestimate the man. Why is a regular guy attracted to a billionaire candidate? It's simple. Because he can "play to people's fantasies," as Mr. Trump puts it. The man knows his television, loves money, hates rules, tells jokes, uses bad language and is convivial to a fault. He may not be like us, but he makes sure there's something about him that different people can relate to, personally.

As both Mr. Trump and Mr. Berlusconi know, once you have the people on the hook, you can sell them anything, and they'll forgive you for everything. His appalling remarks about women and foreign countries? A sign of authenticity, say his admirers.

To dismiss Mr. Trump as a joke, as many Italians did with Mr. Berlusconi early on, and many Americans continue to do with Mr. Trump, would be a mistake. To take him seriously is also wrong. So use your sense of humor. Don't take umbrage at his every offensive comment; his supporters don't care, and the added chatter only helps him.

Next, don't obsess over him. The American news and social media seem hypnotized by Mr. Trump. That's not surprising. He is unusual, and heaven knows Western countries need some spice in the democratic process.

But to obsess over him is exactly what the man wants. "You see?" he can say. "They all gang up on me, those establishment types!" Ross Perot took advantage of the media's love for the odd and novel in 1992; today, thanks to the Internet, it's easier to spread the word.

Soon Mr. Trump's act will become repetitive, so just speed up the process. Make him boring. Force him to be specific. 

Imagine what a laughingstock Reagan would have made of him?   Rather than trying to be tough to respond to him, just make him a joke. 

Posted by at September 18, 2015 8:20 AM

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