WASHINGTON, February 22, 2016 – Republican candidate for president Donald Trump continues to confound the experts. He says things that are simply outrageous, often offending people who are held in high regard by Republican voters. Yet with each confrontation that would be huge loss for any other candidate, Trump manages to come out stronger. Maybe he is just a brilliant politician.
Trump graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. That is an accomplishment achieved by only a very small percentage of extremely intelligent people. He had to be intelligent to get in and very intelligent to graduate.
The value of an Ivy League education can be seen not just in having the degree but in the critical thinking skills he refined during his education. When confronting a problem, those skills teach an individual to gather all relevant information, analyze the data, evaluate opposing positions and then reach a conclusion. Trump is very good at doing this.
He used those skills to become a very successful businessperson. As such he has accumulated vast wealth and, more important, vast experience in solving complex problems mostly by seeking a solution that benefits his position while allowing room for the opposition to also feel successful. In other words, he found mutually beneficial common ground.
He also learned the value of timing, which allowed him to be open and transparent when necessary and closed-mouthed when that was appropriate. He learned there is a time to go on the offensive and a time to sit back and wait. Trump knows that the key to being profitable in business is to give consumers exactly what they want at exactly the price they are willing to pay.
He is using these skills to propel him into the lead for the Republican nomination.
Before running for president Trump gathered necessary information. He found that the majority of Americans were fed up with political correctness, having endured many years of holding back their true feelings in order to say things in a politically correct manner. So he decided to tell it like it is.
He found that Americans had lost faith in politicians who make promises during the campaign cycle but rarely follow through once elected. He set out to convince people he is a person who will follow through with his promises.
He also found that Americans felt that politicians were afraid of confrontation. Even during debates, elected officials seemed to be more concerned with political correctness than speaking the truth. Donald decided to tell it like it is and, when appropriate, confront anyone about any issue.
He made negative comments about war hero Sen. John McCain, who is very popular among Americans and particularly among Republicans. It was believed that Trump’s comments would hurt him and cause him to lose support. Exactly the opposite happened as Trump gathered more support.
He attacked President George Bush, who has an approval rating in excess of 80 percent among Republicans. The conventional wisdom was that his very negative criticism would hurt Trump in South Carolina, where George Bush is very popular. Again exactly the opposite happened, and Trump easily won the South Carolina primary and knocked candidate Jeb Bush out of the race.
Trump is not afraid to confront anyone, even the pope.
Pope Francis made comments which, when taken out of context, appear to be saying that Trump is not a Christian because he wants to build walls rather than build bridges. Trump received this information as he was preparing to speak to a large crowd. He instantly responded without taking time to carefully review what an appropriate response should be.
That means he was instantly able to gather the information, make an analysis and reach a conclusion. Within minutes he argued that it was a disgrace for the pope to question his faith. That quick, intelligent response, where he confronted the pope, should have been a disaster for him. Instead the pope’s spokesperson backtracked on the pope’s comments and Trump again appeared stronger.
It is difficult to imagine Trump’s actually winning the Republican nomination and even more difficult imagining him as president of the United States. But he is able to use his intelligence, his goal-oriented problem solving ability and his understanding that a politician must give the majority of the people exactly what they want at exactly the price they are willing to pay, to propel him into the lead in the primaries.
Love him or hate him, Trump’s use of his brilliance may carry him to the presidency.