December 12th, 2017

Trump’s cunning

I noticed the word “cunning” in the headline of a piece by Spengler entitled “Trump’s Courage and Cunning Confound His Opponents.”

He goes on to say:

I can think of no politician with his combination of courage and cunning since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to whom I compared the then president-elect in a December 2016 essay for Standpoint.

Well, I haven’t yet read that essay for Standpoint. And I don’t see an FDR figure in Trump. But I do think he has courage, and I especially think that “cunning” is a good—if ambiguous—word for a quality in Trump I’ve tried to describe before.

This past Saturday, for example, I wrote:

I’ve never been keen on these “the president is an idiot!!” stories, even when I was a Democrat and they were about Republican presidents or candidates whom I disliked. Reagan seemed smart enough to me, rather than an “amiable dunce,” although I never voted for him. So did Bush in 2000 (didn’t vote for him then; voted for him in 2004)…

Trump is more unusual, to say the least. But I’ve never seen any indication he isn’t plenty smart, although not in a conventional “academic” way—at least, he certainly doesn’t express himself that way. Whether his popular touch is an affectation or the way he just is (I think more the latter than the former), it’s worked awfully well for him so far.

When I look up the word “cunning” I get a variety of definitions, some of them indicating a positive quality and some indicating a mostly negative one, so “cunning” is a great word for Trump-haters and Trump-likers and Trump-in-betweeners. Here is a typical one of the more pejorative sort:

skill employed in a shrewd or sly manner, as in deceiving; craftiness; guile

And here’s one of the more complimentary ones:

1 : very good or very clever at using special knowledge or skills or at getting something done
2 : showing keen understanding

Trump’s cunning also shows in his almost uncanny ability to get his opponents to trip over their own feet, particularly the MSM.

16 Responses to “Trump’s cunning”

  1. Sam L. Says:

    “Trump’s cunning also shows in his almost uncanny ability to get his opponents to trip over their own feet, particularly the MSM.” I like that about him.

  2. n.n Says:

    Conservative (inertia), progressive (monotonic), or liberal (divergent)?

    All are unqualified concepts with ambiguous connotations.

  3. Frederick Says:

    One of my favorite people to read about is the Crusader Robert Guiscard. “Guiscard” is an epithet usually translated “wily”, “crafty”, “cunning”, but the original meaning is closer to “wizard”.

    “Crafty” of course once meant “skilled at a craft” rather than “tricky”.

    Tolkein translates Saruman’s Elvish name “Curunir” as “man of skill”.

  4. Zendo Deb Says:

    I have to second Sam L’s statement above. Also, the press seems to run around with attention span of 6-month-old Labrador retriever chasing a squirrel and Trump seems to be able to capitalize on that.

  5. Pablo panadero Says:

    Call him cunning, but don’t call him a cunning linguist.

  6. Frog Says:

    True cunning would extend to the management of his own party, the GOP, so I’m not so sure. The cunning seems to apply primarily to the management of his relationship with the now-despised MSM.
    If the Congressional GOP were aboard the Trump train, like the Dems were with FDR, I would be inclined to agree he would be FDR-equivalent.

  7. MollyNH Says:

    Love the use of the word cunning with Trump, goes with his, “art of the deal”

  8. Cornflour Says:

    Instapundit Glenn Reynolds often cites Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams for his prediction about the evolution of the media’s attitude towards Trump.

    Here’s what Adams wrote, at his blog, back in March:

    “[T]he illusion of Trump-is-Hitler has been fully replaced with Trump-is-incompetent meme. Look for the new meme to dominate the news, probably through the summer. By year end, you will see a second turn, from incompetent to ‘Competent, but we don’t like it.'”

    I wouldn’t be surprised to soon start seeing lots of stories about Trump’s unfortunate competence. Given its ambiguous meaning, the word “cunning” might even become meme-ish.

  9. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    I’m not in the least convinced of Trump’s cunning. Too many bad appointments (with the exception of judicial nominations) for that meme to fly with me.

    As for the MSM, when was the last time they faced real opposition from the bully pulpit? Remember they can’t ignore him and he has the biggest megaphone. Faced “damn the torpedoes” opposition from a President who sees them for just what they are and who repeatedly and publicly accuses them of it?

  10. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    PS: On 9/11 after a few hours I realized the announcers and talking heads ran out of talking points. They revealed themselves to be script readers, who hadn’t a clue when events required them to speak extemporaneously and knowledgeably. They are pretending that they know what they’re talking about. Hollywood wanna bees. They get flustered when someone in a position of power calls them out.

  11. parker Says:

    The beauty of djt is the chaos he has caused in the msm and the ‘deepstate’ aka the swamp. Geez, I would knew thought this prior to 11/8/16.

  12. Stephen Ippolito Says:

    Geoffrey Britain @5:31 pm.
    Very good point. I agree whole-heartedly with you on that score.

    Apart from the audacity of the crime, and its sheer scale, the thing that struck me most at the time that 9/11 occurred was the sheer banality of the observations offered up by the news readers and reporters covering the story when they were forced to speak “off the cuff”.

    It was evening here when I walked to my bedroom, pulled back the covers and turned on the tv to find the world had changed.

    On all channels there was simply a fixed, live shot of the smoking first tower set against an azure, almost cloudless sky.

    The disembodied voices of the journalists, (on every channel it was the same), simply kept reciting the same mantra: “how awful this is”, (true-no argument); “great loss of life”, (true again, no argument); but then: “what a terrible accident, how could this have happened?”

    I recall yelling at the screen, (it’s my Italian blood), that it was obviously no accident, that the tower was 110 stories high, in the middle of Manhattan and that it was set-off against a perfectly clear morning sky.

    The ramblings about the “accident”, along with my unkind ranting, continued right up to the moment the second tower was hit when even all the talking heads immediately realised that two accidents was just too much of a coincidence.

    That’s what it took for these individuals, men and women of the world all, who for years had filtered what people see and how they made sense of the world, to grasp that 9/11 was an attack and not an accident.

    My thought at the time, and for few years afterwards, was that the reporters were just naive and innocent and that since people tend to attribute to others their own motivations then their inability to attribute the strike to malice reflected well on them.

    But now, all these years later, I’m not so sure. I’ve read and heard these same talking heads, across the intervening years, say and spin things in a way that is far from innocent when it suits their political agenda. In fact they’re quite cynical.

    What I’ve learned by watching the main stream media in the years since 9/11 leads me to think that their inability to recognise the flight of a jet liner straight into a tower standing 110 floors high in the CBD against a clear morning sky probably flowed from a less-than-stellar IQ.

    As well, there was also the sheer lack of originality or incisiveness in the droning, awfully pedestrian “commentary” these plodders offered up when they were unscripted. Had the events of the day not been so upsetting the “narrative” on offer would have sent me to sleep.

  13. neo-neocon Says:

    Stephen Ippolito:

    I find myself in the very odd position of defending the MSM, at least a little bit. About that first plane—

    There were no photos of it. The MSM reporters hadn’t seen it; they only had seen the aftermath and knew some sort of plane had flown into the WTC. It was reasonable at the time to think it was an accident, and they thought it was a small plane. There was a historical precedent for it, too (although that happened long ago, and in fog).

    Very very few people who saw that first plane crash into the WTC realized how big it was–and those were witnesses. It took the second plane for most people (even witnesses) to put it all together and realize what had happened.

    I also think that it is very difficult to hold it together and say anything coherent under the conditions that prevailed after the 2nd plane crashed and they realized it was terrorism and no accident. It must have been stunning. And what was there to say? They knew very little, and were piecing it together in a state of shock.

    I don’t forgive them much. But I forgive them that.

  14. Griffin Says:

    Slightly off the topic but the Strzok/Page texts are unbelievable. These are the people investigating the president. And they even get a backhanded slap at Cruz also so that is a little further proof that even if by chance he had won something similar would be happening. Amazing that these people would be put in positions of this much world changing, history changing power.

  15. neo-neocon Says:

    Griffin, et al:

    I just put up a post about the Strzok/Page texts.

    This has sure been a tiring evening.

  16. Stephen Ippolito Says:

    Neo @10:14 pm.

    Good points, of which I was unaware.
    I stand corrected.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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