Gut check: Scott Adams goes all-in for Donald Trump

“Dilbert” cartoonist, former Hillary supporter nails it: Clinton policy details meant “to mislead, not to inform.” Monday's first debate will feature Hillary's Washingtonspeak vs. a seasoned business negotiator, Hillary and Lester Holt vs. The Donald.

“Dilbert” creator Scott Adams, speaking to an audience in 2007. (Image via Wikipedia entry on Scott Adams, CC2.0)

WASHINGTON, September 26, 2016 – Now Scott Adams is in for it for sure. In a Sunday posting to his Scott Adams’ Blog titled “Why I Switched My Endorsement from Clinton to Trump,” the popular satirical cartoonist who created “Dilbert” announced he’s switching his presidential endorsement from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump. It’s a brave move for anyone who works in the entertainment business.

One pane of the Dilbert comic from September 10, 2005. The Pointy-Haired Boss is reading an announcement at a meeting, with Dilbert, Alice, and Wally in attendance. "Starting today, all passwords must contain letters, numbers, doodles, sign language and squirrel noises." (Fair use image via Wikipedia entry on "Dilbert." Characters and images (c) Scott Adams)
One pane of the Dilbert strip from September 10, 2005. (Fair use image via Wikipedia entry on “Dilbert.” Characters and images (c) Scott Adams)

Adams famously (or perhaps infamously) has been proclaiming for months, perhaps longer than a year now, that Trump would win the Republican nomination and that he was highly likely to run the table in November. It seemed to many, including his fans, to be a peculiar opinion, even as the MBA-holding cartoonist continuously supported it with cold, hard facts. Yet he steadfastly continued to support the candidacy of Hillary Clinton personally.

All that has changed. After headlining his switch of allegiance, his Sunday blog entry acknowledges up front that this change of heart and mind will likely disrupt his life and his business:

“As most of you know, I had been endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, for my personal safety, because I live in California. It isn’t safe to be a Trump supporter where I live. And it’s bad for business too. But recently I switched my endorsement to Trump, and I owe you an explanation.”

Adams then lists five reasons for his switch of allegiance, following each with logical explanations—something you might expect from Adams if you’ve ever followed the various story arcs of his nerdy cartoon stand-in, Dilbert.

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What distinguishes Adams’ cartoons is not only their intelligence. Nearly every short, daily strip zeroes in on organizational incompetence and illogic based on his long-running personal experiences with the frequently absurd and arbitrary way that modern businesses and institutions tend to function. Or dysfunction.

Over the years, “Dilbert” has become the satirical strip that lampoons corporate America from its cube farms to its posh management suites to its evil minions in HR. Lately, Adams has been applying his MBA business chops and human insights to the 2016 presidential contest, deploying that knowledge and logic again as he details the reasoning and motivations behind his switch.

After freely listing the “things I don’t know,” Adams gets more specific in his five remaining points.

First up: “Confiscation of Property.” Adams drills down on Clinton’s latest risky “Tax the Rich” scheme.

“Clinton proposed a new top Estate Tax of 65% on people with net worth over $500 million. Her website goes to great length to obscure the actual policy details, including the fact that taxes would increase on lower value estates as well. See the total lack of transparency here, where the text simply refers to going back to 2009 rates.”

It’s at this point that Adams nails not only the core of Hillary Clinton’s tactical maneuvers but the ruthlessly obfuscatory tactics of 21st century Democrats as well.

“…don’t fall for the claim that Clinton has plenty of policy details on her website. She does, but it is organized to mislead, not to inform. That’s far worse than having no details.”

“To mislead, not to inform.” In this one brief phrase, Adams gets to the very heart of Clinton’s and her party’s tactics.

Doing the math on Clinton’s “Tax the Rich” proposal, Adams says “I don’t want to give 75% of my earnings to the government. (Would you?)

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Adams also zeroes in on “Clinton’s Health.” He doesn’t need to spend much time here, as any frequenter of political blogs and videos already know. But again he cites this as a key reason for his switch, pointing any still skeptical readers toward Hillary’s “now-famous “Why aren’t I 50 points ahead” video clip.”

Where Adams really gets on a roll occurs in his two longest discussion points, “Pacing and Leading,” and “Persuasion.” It’s here that Adams’ understanding of how successful businesses and businessmen work that makes this article important and well worth reading in its entirety.

To synopsize, Adams explains what may very well be obvious to anyone who’s run or operated a business, particularly in matters like commercial real estate development and construction where many disparate players, ranging from local, state and national government to funding sources to trade unions must all be brought on board and motivated to get with the developer’s plan. Or as much of it as he can sell.

Noting that “Trump always takes the extreme position on matters of safety and security for the country,” Adams readily acknowledges that public statements along these lines are scary when the average Joe hears them. But Adams regards Trump as a “trained persuader” employing the tactics of “pacing and leading.”

In short, Trump functions the way Ronald Reagan often did, by leading with an extreme, attention-grabbing position that can seem threatening even to seasoned veterans sitting across the negotiating table from him. But during negotiations, this gives a “trained persuader” like Trump plenty of room to modify proposals or even back off a bit until an agreement is reached that likely tilts in the direction of that original, radical proposal.

In the real world, most business negotiators know that if you start out with a “reasonable” position, you’ve already lost the argument. You have no bargaining room left. Adams cites Trump’s developing position on “The Wall” as a case in point.

With regard to the art of persuasion, or perhaps the art of the deal, Adams once again perhaps unwittingly, conjures up the ghost of the Great Persuader himself, Ronald Reagan as he focuses on this key skill set that must be possessed by any real leader.

“The best kind of president for managing the psychology of citizens – and therefore the economy – is a trained persuader. You can call that persuader a con man, a snake oil salesman, a carnival barker, or full of shit. It’s all persuasion. And Trump simply does it better than I have ever seen anyone do it.

“Most of the job of president is persuasion. Presidents don’t need to understand policy minutia. They need to listen to experts and then help sell the best expert solutions to the public. Trump sells better than anyone you have ever seen, even if you haven’t personally bought into him yet. You can’t deny his persuasion talents that have gotten him this far.”

If Scott Adams the business expert hasn’t persuaded his own readers of the rightness of his view, perhaps Scott Adams the cartoonist will, given his remaining reason for his dramatic switch: “Party or Wake.”

“It seems to me that Trump supporters are planning for the world’s biggest party on election night whereas Clinton supporters seem to be preparing for a funeral. I want to be invited to the event that doesn’t involve crying and moving to Canada.”

Read the whole thing. It may very well provide some useful perspective on Monday night’s first 2016 Presidential Debate as Hillary Clinton and Lester Holt take on The Donald, allegedly with Mark Cuban and Gennifer Flowers seated in the front row of the audience.

Join CDN writers and commentators for a live stream of the debate complete with online chat Monday night, September 26, starting at 8:30 p.m. ET. Just click on this link.

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