Trump’s real genius and real danger lies in one and the same habit


I read hundreds of anti-Trump articles during the primaries and the election season two years ago. Very few, almost none, of them, “got” the real problem with Trump. They said things like “he is evil, racist, sexist, xenophobic” which were so patently untrue of this liberal New York billionaire who that they didn’t stick. By overstating their case, they weakened their case.

Jonah Goldberg gets it. The real genius and real problem of Trump are one and the same thing: exaggeration. Bluster. Hype. Kayfabe.

Everything he says and does is exaggerated beyond reality. He’s not a habitual liar, he’s a habitual BS-er. (Scott Adams got this early and has never wavered.)

Trump’s philosophy is the WWE concept of “kayfabe”. Make the act real enough to seem real.

A professional wrestling term, “kayfabe” means presenting staged events as if they’re real. Pro wrestling is theater, not sport. But it thrives on the illusion that it is the latter, not the former.

Kayfabe philosophy means “fake it to make it”, and Trump takes faking it to the extreme. Even his approach to exaggerating is exaggerated. That’s what makes Trump so hard to parody – he’s already a parody version of himself.

It’s also what makes Trump so hard to put down: his version of reality is extremely clear. The patriotism is extremely patriotic; the law-enforcement is extremely lawful; the good deals are extremely good and the bad deals are painted as historically bad. For better or worse, this is his approach to life, business, and now, to international politics.

Critics would do better to understand the power of kayfabe, and supporters would do better to understand its dangers.