The Complicated Nature of America’s Best Trump Apologist


Scott Adams, the author of the Dilbert comic strip, is a Trump toady, or so say his critics.

As evidence they point to his blog where, for many a month and in Sherlock Holmesian fashion, Adams has dissected the unfolding crime scene of the 2016 presidential campaign and explained, with forensic exactitude, not only how Donald Trump has been crushing it but why.

It is not so much Adams’ past experience as a white-collar cubical drone that allows him to read the mind of real-life cartoon boss Donald Trump, but rather Adams’ skills as a trained hypnotist. Scott Adams calls Donald Trump a “Master Persuader”, and he believes that it is this natural gift that has led Trump, a man whose entire career is an instruction manual on the art of dicking the public, to his current position of running neck and neck with professional pol Hillary Clinton for the most powerful job in the world.

Trump has done this, Adams says, through various mind control tactics that are well understood by hypnotists, used-car salesmen and pick-up artists. His blog is filled with examples of Trump employing “anchors”, “pacing and leading” and “linguistic kill-shots”. This has irritated any number of people who don’t like being told that the hearty and free-willed American race is nothing but a collection of knobs waiting to be turned this way or that by the soft pink hands of political movers and moneyed shakers. But read Scott’s words and ask yourself: do you have a better explanation for how that tangerine-colored bamboozler has gotten this far?

As a fan of Scott Adams’ blog, I hereby offer my assessment of both faces of this intellectual Janus.

Scott Adams: The Hero

Scott Adams has declined to pick a side in the presidential race (hedging his bets, Adams’ recently, though unconvincingly, declared for Gary Johnson), but his fascination with Trump has infuriated many on both the left and the right who see Adams as an advocate for a budding fascist. Liberal websites such as Salon cite Adams’ “obvious hero worship” of Trump, while Erick Erickson, a steward of the conservative movement’s declining middlebrow wing, recently snark-tweeted to Adams: “I’m waiting for the guy who writes Dilbert to pen 5000 words on why this Access Hollywood tape is actually a brilliant thing for Trump.”

To those who wish to throw acid in Adams’ face, I say “don’t hate the player, hate the game.” Much of what this cartoonist has to say about Trump and his mesmeric appeal is upsetting because it rings true. November 8th is almost here, and while you are watching pages fall off your cartoon-a-day Dilbert calendar, hoping that Trump will fall to the *latest* deadly blow meant to destroy him (this week it is PussyGate and the now daily parade of Trump’s molested victims), you can’t help but notice that Trump is still polling gallingly high. It is easier to hate the man who seems to know why that is then to admit that our system is that fucked and Hillary is that shitty a candidate.

If Adams’ detractors would put down their brickbats for a moment, they would see the value of his analysis. Adams brings an interesting lens to this campaign, the lens of a man who gives less than half a crap about the candidates’ policies and simply considers the contenders as the popularity contest finalists they are. How did they get here? Why is it that half the population of the country is unconcerned that Trump probably doesn’t have the attention span to read to the end of a fortune cookie’s fortune? Adams realized well before you or I (or Jonah Goldberg or George Will or the Weekly Standard) that besides having a population of utterly unexceptional Americans to exploit, Trump also has an ace up his sleeve: skills.

Adams has had the temerity to recognize the persuasive power of a man who has hijacked a storied political party and turned it into his personal bouncy castle. He saw the genius of Trump labeling Jeb Bush as “low energy”, recognizes the subtlety with which Trump shifts gears, how he herds his followers like sheep while teaching them to love the taste of mutton, and how he turns his gaffes into free advertising gold.

Can one truly hate Adams when all he’s done is reveal Trump’s secrets to a gobsmacked public? I mean, Trump’s idiotic Great Wall of Mexico may sound like something that would come from the mouth of an Uzbek despot, but see it as a loud, brassy sales pitch and your wheels begin turning. Then it seems possible that Donald Trump is only saying something that no liberal will listen to at a conversational level, which is that maybe, maybe just MAYBE the USA has absorbed its fair share of Mexican immigrants over the decades with little to no pushback. Hell, I didn’t realize that Donald Trump could make any sense whatsoever until Scott Adams cracked the hexadecimals of Trump’s right wing Enigma code!

And Adams’ has even pointed out crucial missteps by the unloved and unlovely Hillary Clinton. For example: how her dumb campaign slogan “Love Trumps Hate”–clearly written by the wordsmith herself–is two thirds of the phrase “Love Trump”. And have you ever noticed that you can’t name a single thing Hillary plans to do as president, but can recite a dozen things Trump will do? Trump is sticky, and Adams knows why. If Hillary goes down in flames on November 8th, the desperate denizens of the Hillary Bubble will at least find that an autopsy has already been written for them.

So kudos to Scott Adams for pointing out that beneath Donald Trump’s brutish orange rind there are the thousand flashing LEDs of Lt. Commander Data’s superbrain, and that we were fools for not seeing it sooner. Trump isn’t a pig that learned to walk erect; he’s Good Will Hunting!

Scott Adams: The Dick

Did I say Good Will Hunting? I meant Rain Man.

Trump’s genius in this race has not been any spectacular gift at mental manipulation. He fell ass backwards into the truths that conservatism, the mythic shibboleth of the Republican Party for two generations, is entirely moribund, and that the race for the presidency, already a shallow spectacle, was ripe to be transformed into an outright television program. All one had to do to steal the show was abandon all dignity, statesmanship and pretense of intellect. Decades of groundwork by Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh had already rotted the thought processes of the Republican base. It only took Donald Trump, the Vandal with a heart of gold, to shatter his opponents’ remaining delusion: that anyone cared about their pedigrees.

Donald Trump, casino mogul, knows better than most that the world is full of rubes waiting to be fleeced, and his oversized personality, a combination of John Gotti and Richard Dawson, is a proven hit. Add to that the unexpected humility of a billionaire Narcissus willing to descend a golden escalator to enter the squared circle with Stone Cold Steve Austin, and buddy, how could this guy not shine like a supernova compared to ghouls like Ted Cruz?

To listen to Scott Adams, however, you would think that he had decoded Trump’s DNA and found that he’s the Fifth Element! In reality, Trump is only the biggest termite chewing up an already rotten log.

But while it is true that Adams is not an outright lickboot for Trump, and though he does provide a valuable service demystifying the man for the hair-pulling masses, you have to wonder: how can Adams write so often and in such depth about Donald Trump while never directly saying what he believes four years of a Trump presidency would mean for the very schlubs whose shoulders are bearing his litter?

As compelling as Adams’ analysis of Trump the Master Persuader is, Scott Adams himself seems to be in the thrall of the Maestro, and the cognitive dissonance he often spies in others is the timber in his own eye.

“For starters,” Adams tells us in August of 2015, at the beginning of his journey into the Heart of Trumpness, “Trump literally wrote the book on negotiating, called The Art of the Deal. So we know he is familiar with the finer points of persuasion.” Indeed, so persuasive is Trump that he has persuaded Adams to ignore the fact that said book was actually ghostwritten by a man who now calls Trump a sociopath with ADD. Does this stir Scott Adams’ conscience at all?

How about the apologia Adams has written regarding the women who have charged Trump with molestation? Adams concludes: “I doubt Trump ever leaned in to kiss anyone unless he interpreted their actions as willingness.”

Why? Why does he doubt these women who say exactly the opposite? Even Trump, in his now famous “Pussy Grabber” video, admits that he kisses first and asks for permission later. “And when you’re a star you can do it. You can do anything,” Trump reveals. This is what being a Master Persuader really is, from the mouth of the Master himself: star power plus Tic-Tacs equals “who’s gonna believe her over me?”

This would all be irrelevant if we could take Adams at his word that he is above questioning Trump’s character, since he is no less trapped than we are between voting for a Giant Douche over a Turd Sandwich (to quote South Park). But he is going to vote, right?

And when Adams actually cops to being moved by an issue, surprise! Trump is always the one with the right answer. Whether it is the “great deal” that Trump will offer the suicide cult of ISIS, or simply the prospect of Trump rescuing Adams from a post-mortem tax levy, one can scarcely escape the conclusion that Trump has dropped an anchor in Adam’s mind that will not be persuaded away.

“I have been trying to unhypnotize the country on this matter [Trump] for the past year,” Scott Adams writes in advance of the third and final debate. Then, in an exaggerated tribute to the persuasive talents of Hillary Clinton he tells us that

Clinton’s team of persuaders has caused half of the country to see Trump as a racist/sexist Hitler with a dangerous temperament…The majority of Trump supporters … just want change.

But for the sake of mere “change” Scott Adams appears to have inured himself to the endless erratic prevarications of Donald Trump, and surely the decades-long video record of Trump’s orcish attitudes towards women requires no elaboration on Hillary’s part.

Going into the home stretch, Scott Adams insists on standing aloof from the darker questions Trump’s ascension has raised, such as: why does Trump’s beautiful mind only have the power to persuade the mob? Why does he leave newspaper editorial boards reaching for the Lysol when he departs their interviews? And why have so many intelligent elected Republicans, desperate to reclaim the White House, instead sent up one signal flare after another that this man is catastrophe on legs?

Who’s really hypnotized here, buddy?

I don’t think Trump is Hitler. Hitler had a plan, and focus, and a party that wasn’t flying apart at the seams. But you can’t really blame Adams for not wanting to admit to his own leanings, given a climate where he is likened to Joseph Goebells  merely for having an opinion. That comparison is unfair for two reasons: 1) fascists don’t have a sense of humor, and 2) fascists have convictions.

I wrote a graphic novel called Weapon Brown that makes Dilbert and other comic strip characters fun to read again! Why not check it out?