The Power of Public Insult

The Power of Public Insult September 14, 2015

Donald Trump calls Jeb Bush a “nice” but “low energy” man. Whatever Bush does, Trump wins.

Suppose Bush tries to get more energetic. That proves Trump was right, because Bush had to step it up. More, it keeps Trump in control, because Bush is dancing (more energetically) to Trump’s tune.

Suppose Bush ignores the insults and keeps steady as she goes. It’ll be hard for people to avoid assessing Bush by Trump’s standard. “Yeah, he is kinda passive, isn’t he?” they’ll ask themselves.

Bush could insult back, but then he risks looking vengeful, which is bad; also petty, which is worse. Besides, Trump is a lot better at it than Bush, a lot funnier, and if Bush fights back, Trump will upstage him, leaving Bush again looking “low energy.” Bush is not suited to a game of thrust and riposte.

A world-class insulter like Trump controls the party (perhaps even the Party) by reckless insulting. And he leaves one wondering why more politicians don’t make use of this apparently unbeatable weapon.

(Photo by Michael Vadon.)


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