James Taranto–yes, that James Taranto–interviewed Scott Adams for The Wall Street Journal. Yes, the once-esteemed (by somebody, somewhere, I imagine) paper is now conducting interviews with has-been internet MRA weirdos and passing it off as journalism. How the righty have fallen!
Spoiler Alert: Adams still thinks Trump can win!
“The moment I realized there was something special was during the first debate,” he tells me over coffee in the kitchen of his spacious suburban home. “It was the Rosie O’Donnell moment.” Moderator Megyn Kelly had confronted Mr. Trump with the key premise of what Mr. Adams calls “a gotcha question of the highest order”: “You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals.’ ”
Photo: Ken Fallin
“I asked myself: How would anybody else have answered?” Mr. Adams recalls. “If you denied it, it would look weak. If you embraced it—you really couldn’t. There was nothing you could say. He was completely painted into a corner by his past comments. No one could get out of that. And then he did what no one could do—he got out of it. He said: ‘Only Rosie O’Donnell.’ ”
If you watched the debate, you probably remember that it worked. Mr. Adams can explain why. Mr. Trump invoked a visual image, “your most powerful persuasion sense.” The image was well-known, “and it was a person, which is the best visual of all, because the brain is just attuned to faces and people. And he just drew all the energy out of the room, sucked all of it up, balled it all together, and just moved it over to this Rosie O’Donnell joke, and it just deflated the entire topic.”
Underneath it all, Trump is a super-sekrit genius because he makes nasty impromptu jokes about how ugly Rose O’Donnell is.
Was it mere luck? Mr. Adams considered the possibility but concluded after further observation that it was a matter of sophisticated technique. On his Dilbert.com blog, he started analyzing Mr. Trump’s tactics through what he calls the “Master Persuader filter.”
Yes, using “Master Persuader Filter” certainly is a sophisticated technique. It’s also Tenacious D’s worst song.
What seemed like madness to others, Mr. Adams recognized as method. Those cruel but seemingly random nicknames Mr. Trump gives his rivals? Mr. Adams calls them “linguistic kill shots” and says their purpose is not just to display dominance but to change the way voters think.
Now all I can think about is a bunch of kindergarteners running around using “linguistic kill shots” and suddenly elementary school seems like a much scarier place.