Since he dipped his toe into the treacherous political waters in 2015, much has been written about President Trump’s modus operandi. As a neophyte politician, is he a charlatan, a fool, or one cagey SOB? Most points of view are generally dependent on the politics of the given prognosticator. Leftist Democrats believe that he has normalized bigotry and xenophobia in this country and has likely paved the way for race relations to deteriorate rather than progressing forward. Some of them believe that he is either a clueless incompetent beyond his depth or an evil genius.
Yet Trump’s opponents – in particular, those in the legacy media – continue to hang on every his every word and are constantly being trolled by his public statements and especially his daily tweets on Twitter. It is really quite amazing to watch, is it not? Given that the likes of CNN, MSNBC, the NY Times, and Washington Post have destroyed their credibility with the American people due to fake news reporting, the only thing keeping them afloat in terms of viewership/readership is their 24×7 reporting on everything Trump!
All of Trump’s naysayers are from the political establishment along with their hangers-on in media, academia, and Hollywood. They largely live in Blue states and never come into contact with Trump supporters in Red states; they inhabit the equivalent of a Leftist Cocoon into which reality and facts never seem to penetrate. Emotions motivate them, and they inherently value style over substance. How many times have we seen Democrats or media figures complain about the president’s supposed “unpresidential behavior” over the past couple of years? They are all so absolutely CERTAIN that there is only one correct way in which a sitting president must comport himself, and President Trump does not meet their expectations. That’s why they love their tin god Obama who was and is nothing but style and a light-weight with nothing of substance behind him. Fortunately, his legacy is blowing away like dust in the wind.
How best to explain President Trump, especially to those afflicted with seemingly incurable mass psychosis that is called Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS)? Opinions vary, even among those of us on the Right. What follows are my personal opinions. First of all, unlike the views of those afflicted with TDS, my opinion is that our president is far smarter than his political adversaries! What do I mean? Allow me to explain with a personal anecdote.
I once had a French-speaking boss who was born in Quebec, Canada. A Vietnam vet, he sustained a gunshot wound behind an ear that affected his hearing. A PhD, he cultivated a belief based on his personal circumstances about which everyone in his immediate circle knew. He feigned difficulty in understanding English and coupled that pretension with impaired hearing, which he worked to his advantage in meetings. His “condition” was so well-known and cleverly developed that his reputation for these maladies preceded him. But here’s the deal: he could hear perfectly and could communicate verbally and in writing in English with the best of English speakers. His act resulted in people letting their guard down around him and disclosing things they otherwise wouldn’t.
Trump has his own shtick in this regard – not hard of hearing or feigning language difficulty – but rather a brusque and direct nature that greatly differs from the demeanor of a US president expected by the political class. In short, he is frequently viewed to be “not very presidential” by the Left and downright “dumb,” and the Democrats, legacy media, and NeverTrump Republicans can’t deal with that except to continually disparage him. It is impossible for them to ignore his direct public statements and tweets, and they react reflexively (and predictably) each and every time. They just can’t help themselves because they despise him so much – and this makes them completely susceptible to Trump’s misdirection.
President Trump has long been a disciple of Sun Tzu, the great Chinese general and philosopher who authored the seminal reference, “The Art of War.” President Trump wrote his own book, “The Art of the Deal,” patterned after Sun Tzu’s military strategies. I believe that he is also applying those same strategies to the modern political realm as he deals with his political opponents on a daily basis.
Let’s look at how Trump applies 10 of Sun Tzu’s principles in light of what we’ve learned about our president through close observation since 2015.
Principle #1 – Planning: Trump views his struggle as a war with the entrenched Deep State and their allies. He spent years studying the enemy camp and learning their weaknesses before developing his plan for the presidency. What are the elements of his plan? To use other Sun Tzu principles to let his enemies defeat themselves, including use of advantages, alliances, deception, use of spies, exploitation of strengths and weaknesses, energy, communication, and winning whole.
Principle #2 – Character: Sun is big on the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage, and strictness in commanders. There is plenty of evidence of those in Trump! I like his benevolent side in particular, as well as his courage in his willingness to take it to the Democrats and the media. A commander uses those virtues to properly command those around him. Trump is excellent in delegating authority to his sub-commanders (cabinet officers and various functionaries and spokesmen).
Principle #3 – Using advantages: Sun says that to become “thoroughly acquainted” with anything, and thus able to use the advantage of that knowledge, takes time, especially to get thoroughly acquainted with oneself. Without question, our president is comfortable in his own skin, as is readily seen in all of his public appearances, especially his campaign rallies around the country. He is a man of the people, and the people love him for it. And he’s spent decades studying “the enemy” and their weaknesses (e.g., hubris, false omniscience, narcissism, greed, envy, and personal foibles and sins). It’s a key advantage he has over the Democrats and media who underestimate him at every turn.
Principle #4 – Alliances: Sun says that no one has ever achieved anything of note without having alliances, and that knowing how to win is the first step while building alliances to get it done is the second step. With whom does Trump have strong alliances? I would argue that Trump has allied himself with a number of flag and general officers in the active duty and retired military who are intent on purging the corruption that is rampant in the Deep State, as well as his cabinet members, the Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives, and others. All are working to Make America Great Again!
Principle #5 – Deception: Sun says that “all warfare is based on deception.” A corollary is the use of misdirection to deceive and confuse the enemy. And we all know that Trump is a master at using misdirection to keep Democrats and the legacy media off-balance! His opposition hasn’t stopped him from setting a record for appointments to the federal judiciary, or the passage of tax cuts, or the freeing up of the oil and gas industry, or the ending of the Obamacare individual mandate, or getting NATO allies to pay more, or working to reset trade practices with China, etc. That’s because the opposition is fixated on Trump’s misdirecting public statements and tweets – on his style versus his substance (policies and directives). I would argue that the real key to understanding Trump’s ongoing political strategy and modus operandi is his use of this most important Sun principle – Deception!
Principle #6 – Use of spies: Sun says that “to fight and win all battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” Employing spycraft to understand the enemy’s plans and motivations is key to winning. A couple of names come to mind: ADM Rogers (the former head of NSA, the world’s elite communications monitoring org who made that important trip to Trump Tower in mid-November 2016). Two others: Mike Pompeo and Gina Haspel (reorganizing and repurposing the CIA, with Pompeo now leading Trump’s foreign policy team as Secretary of State). It would appear that leakers are also being outed as time goes by in the Senate, House, National Security Council, and State Department. That’s spycraft!
Principle #7 – Strengths and weaknesses: Sun said that good fighters “first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat” and then wait for an opportunity to defeat the enemy – by waiting for that opportunity as provided by the enemy himself. President Trump plays rope-a-dope with the best of them. He gives off an air of weakness by not actively using the strength of his office to, for example, overtly direct Deep State firings, prosecutions, etc., of the cabal. He is patient in letting his enemies hang themselves. Which is exactly what the likes of Clapper, Comey, Brennan, McCabe, Strozk, Yates, and others are doing almost daily with their public railings about Trump’s supposed “treason,” abuse of power, Ukrainian quid pro quo, etc. Meanwhile, the indisputable evidence of their own perfidy continues to be exposed. He is letting them defeat themselves in the court of public opinion in preparation for the prosecutions to come – while building majority support among normal Americans for the indictments to come.
Principle #8 – Energy: Sun says that if you don’t know what to defend or what to attack, you will squander your energy. Our president has boundless energy and is constantly working on his MAGA agenda on but 4-5 hours of sleep per night. Amazing! He is putting his energy into advancing his agenda and using surrogates to hold his political opposition and the media at bay. Watch for more campaign rallies like Minneapolis and Dallas to energize his base (including Democrats!) going into 2020, too.
Principle #9 – Communications: Sun says that appropriate communication is the golden key to winning. Who could possibly argue that Trump is the greatest communicator in the Oval Office since Reagan (and I would argue even better!)? His Twitter campaign is brilliant, as he is able to communicate instantaneously with his base whenever he chooses to do so. The Democrats and legacy media still haven’t figured it out yet; they always respond to everything he says. I pray they never will!
Principle #10 – Winning whole: Sun says that “the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus, do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat.” Now we can’t possibly know all of the calculations that Trump has made along the way, or the plans that are presently being executed on multiple fronts, but we can judge the results by his many successes since 20 January 2017. How many substantive losses has he truly sustained? The Obamacare repeal failed, but that was on the Senate (McCain in particular), not Trump. And I don’t believe he’s given up on that, so call that one a rain-check for now. Same with the Wall – which has been obstructed by the Uniparty, too. He used a declaration of national emergency on the border to fund the Wall out of national security spending in order to defeat the Democrats’ obstruction. It is being built, slowly but surely. And the economy is going gang-busters. Looks to me like President Trump owns that last Sun Tzu principle in spades: winning whole!
Conclusion: President Trump’s modus operandi involves adaptation of Sun Tzu’s 10 principles to the political battlespace of 21st century America. He is probably the greatest adherent to the tenets in Sun’s “The Art of War” in the modern era, and insights into his thinking can be elucidated by carefully observing his very successful actions on our collective behalf on a daily basis. The latest example was his appearance at the Astros-Nationals World Series Game last night. When he was shown on the big screen, the Deep State bureaucrats in attendance (DC is loaded with them!) booed him. Imagine what the rest of the normal country thought when the watched that unpatriotic spectacle? The Master Troller was at work again exposing that DC isn’t American at all – quite the opposite! The Left/Democrats, legacy media, and indeed virtually the entire political class remain clueless – which is great for the rest of us!