USA | Enligt The Economist uppskattar många Donald Trumps valkampanj för dess ”skunk-at-the-picnic” karaktär.
Trumps sätt att tala och agera uppskattas av en viss typ av väljare som är ilskna på det politiska etablissemanget i Washington. Många tycker att politikerna från båda partierna bara lovar runt och håller tunt.
Men för de väljare som är mindre imponerade framstår Trump mer som sinnebilden av republikanernas ständigt återkommande freakshow när det nu återigen är dags att nominera en presidentkandidat.
Många oroar sig för att Trump skapar ett så pass negativt intryck av republikanerna att det kommer att spilla över på övriga kandidater.
Bill Powell följde Trump en tid under den pågående valrörelsen för tidskriften Newsweek. Powell är ingen politisk reporter men har bevakat Trumps affärsverksamhet under trettio års tid.
För att försöka förstå de opinionsmässiga framgångarna för The Donald har han också talat med Trumps politiska rådgivare Roger Stone. Stone har till och från varit Trumps rådgivare och lobbyist under tjugo års tid.
To try to understand it, I turned to one of the most fabled political operatives of the last 40 years: the famous (or, depending on your politics, infamous) Roger Stone. As a young man, Stone worked for Richard Nixon when he was in the White House, after being hired by Jeb Magruder, who went to jail for his involvement in the Watergate scandal. Stone was part of the so-called dirty tricks team, which did clever/evil things like make donations to political opponents in the name of nonexistent organizations, such as the “Young Socialist Alliance.”
His core tenet as a campaign adviser has always been, “Attack, attack, attack—never defend,” and Trump is a more than willing pupil. You don’t grow up in the New York real estate business and not know how to fight. His instinct is to fight. Trump tells me that he hasn’t initiated the campaign fire this round—“Not once, Bill!”—but he returns it, always with a heavy bit of topspin, in his inimitable and endlessly entertaining style. He’s gone after not only Bush but also Lindsey Graham (“Every time I see him on TV, he wants to bomb somebody!”), Rick Perry (“He bought a pair of glasses so he could look smart!”) and Walker (the Wisconsin governor who Trump, as of late July, trailed in Iowa). “Wisconsin,” he snarled the other day, “is in turmoil!” Hell, these days, Trump even goes after the pundits who have the temerity to criticize him. “George Will,” he declared on the radio, “is a dope!”
Stone is more than happy to fill in my blanks. He starts with the point everyone makes: A significant percentage of the American public is really angry, and they hate the political class, whom they see as phonies who don’t “do what they say they’re going to do,” as Stone puts it. “I’ve never seen the voters this sour in my life, and they are responding to someone they see as authentic. Who’s a billionaire, says what he thinks, doesn’t need the Koch brothers’ or anyone else’s money, and yet still comes across as a regular guy. Compare that with, say, Mitt Romney.
“And the thing of it is, that’s what Donald is. He is a regular guy. He’s the opposite of a phony. He is what he is, and he has always been this way.”
For one thing, Stone tells me—and political reporters I respect, like Robert Costa of The Washington Post, have reported—that the Trump campaign has hired very credible operatives in the key early states. That suggests this is not just a lark, a clever way for Donald Trump to extend his brand even further.
And there’s more. Listen, again, to Stone, and what I’ll call his The Apprentice theory of politics. For 15 seasons, The Apprentice was a popular TV show. “Millions of people watched it,” Stone says, and what did all those people see on The Apprentice? “They saw a guy in a blue suit in a red tie, a guy who looks presidential, sitting in a high-backed chair. They see a guy in control. A guy making decisions. He appears thoughtful. He mulls things for a few seconds” before deciding whether he should tell someone, “You’re fired!”
The Apprentice, Stone says, “transformed Donald’s image for good.”
I’m reeling a bit as he lays this out. “Wait a second,” I say. “Because he’s shown mulling things ‘for a few seconds,’ a lot of people think he can be president?”
But then comes this: “You know,” Stone says, “I worked for a guy they used to say the same thing about. That he didn’t know enough.’’
Oh no, I’m thinking. Please don’t do it, Roger! Please don’t compare Trump with…
“That he was just an actor.”
“And he turned out to be the most consequential president of our lifetime.”
Yes, folks, Donald Trump is the new Ronald Reagan. You read it here first.
Tidskriftsomslag: Newsweek den 14 augusti 2015.