Defending Trump

I really don’t know what to make of Scott Adams. As you know, he’s the creator of Dilbert (which I greatly enjoy), a prolific blogger and author, a trained hypnotist and many other things.  He’s clearly a very intelligent guy.

Although he doesn’t come right out and say anything like “I think Donald Trump is a great president”, by the time you’ve assembled all his defenses of Trump and combined them with all his dismissals of Trump’s flaws, there’s just no other conclusion you could ever come to.

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He was an early predictor of Trump’s success, a staunch defender (although he would probably prefer something like “explainer”), and, above all else, an admirer. Adams is interested in all aspects of “persuasion” and insists that Trump’s skill set in this area is so much better than anyone else’s that it’s hard to even measure it.

I used to spend more time on the Metafilter website more than I do now, and I was always a little perplexed by their disdain for Adams, who is basically Persona Non Grata there. It was based mostly on his disregarding site rules and protocol. At one point he used another identity to argue for his own points (a little like Trump impersonating his own P.R. guy, now that I think of it), and also for some of his less politically-correct observations. But I always thought they were too hard on him.

After listening to Sam Harris’s conversation with Adams on his Waking Up podcast, though, I’m beginning to think Metafilter was right all along. In this conversation, Adams stretches credulity in his defense of Trump, all the while cleverly “agreeing” with the premise of various questions, like Trump is a liar. Basically Adams’ response is “So what?”, since he only lies about things that don’t matter, and anyway he always lies in “the right direction”, meaning everyone knows kind of what he meant and agrees with his ideas even when the facts he sites to support them are wrong.

In the podcast, Harris asks him a lot of questions I have always wanted to ask a Trump apologist, like how to explain Trump’s involvement with the obvious scam of Trump University. Basically Adams says it was a franchise operation and Trump can’t be expected to control every aspect of how his franchisees behave. Harris says, yes, but what about now that he knows it was a scam, and Adams has more and more unlikely explanations. I recommend you give it a listen. For me it started out as extremely interesting and gradually morphed into infuriating.

Adams explains the reaction of Trump-haters to the things Trump says and does as “confirmation bias” and “cognitive dissonance”. It’s hard to know how to defend yourself against these charges, but it’s interesting to listen to someone with real intelligence jump through hoops to defend Trump – assuming you’ve got your blood pressure meds nearby, that is.

Of course, many people have responded to Adams about the discussion and you may also want to give his post-mortem responses on Twitter a listen as well. Enjoy.

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2 thoughts on “Defending Trump”

  1. Funny, I had this podcast queued up before I saw your post. But now, in spite of your recommendation, I don’t think I can handle two hours of it so thanks for the summary.

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    1. Adams’ argument seems to boil down to,. “Trump has been very effective over the years in getting what he wants, and now he will use those skills to benefit the American people”. This is a huge disconnect for me, in that I have no illusions about who he is using his considerable “skills” to benefit.

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