It has come to my attention that there are still a few people in the world that I have not offended. I'd like to fix that by endorsing Donald Trump for president. But not for the reasons you might think.

This morning I read a news item saying that some folks at NBC think Trump might be pretending to run for president to boost ratings. The story noted that ratings for his TV show are up 20% lately. I laughed out loud because sometimes I forget that at least half the country doesn't realize he's just screwing with the media. 

The magnificent part of this whole thing is that he's putting no effort whatsoever into concealing his prank. That's what I love about the guy. He knows that no level of clownery in a field of clowns will single him out as the one clown that doesn't really mean it.

Take Trump's recent empathy with the so-called birthers. That's the most brilliant part of his plan. It's a dead giveaway that he's just screwing with the media, and it has the added benefit of concentrating most of their attention on that one trivial issue. He doesn't even need to study up on the other issues. While Romney is writing position papers, Trump is golfing.

If you are not a student of practical jokes, you might not know they have a specific formula. A proper practical joke is more than a surprise or a lie. The magic part of the prank formula involves leaving enormous clues that are obvious to everyone but the target of the prank.

For example, if you have a coworker who likes to whistle little tunes in his cubicle, his blind spot is that he imagines other people are impressed and delighted by his whistling prowess. You could use that blind spot to engineer your prank. For example, you might have a friend call this fellow at work, pretending to be the director of the local symphony. Your co-conspirator could say the symphony is looking for an accomplished whistler to do a solo when the President of the United States' is in town next month. The payoff is getting the whistler to show up at the local symphony and ask the receptionist where he should go for the whistling audition.

The thing that makes the prank work is that no one in the solar system, except for the whistler, would find this scenario credible. He alone could imagine that word of his whistling talents have started to get around town. And he alone would imagine that the President of the United States would want to hear his whistling solo.

Back to Trump. He's a graduate of the Wharton School, which means his intelligence is in the genius range. He's a world-renowned businessman with attention to details. He's also famous for a trademark form of self-parody that has boosted his brand for decades. There isn't the slightest chance that this man hasn't looked at the birther evidence. He knows the President of the United States is American. That's the hiding in plain sight part of this prank. It isn't the least bit credible that Trump thinks the birther issue is real.

Some of you are thinking he's gone too far with the joke. Or maybe he went too far when he said we should take Iraq's oil by force as payment for a war they didn't ask for. This is not a man who thinks he might someday debate serious politicians in a public forum. This is a man who is winking at the camera and daring you to see the obvious.

Normally I wouldn't call out a prankster while the prank is in play. But this is a special case because the people who think he's serious have made up their minds. In order for them to accept that this is a prank, they'd have to accept that they can't tell the difference between a real candidate and one who is yanking their chains. Brains are not wired for that sort of 180 turn. In the history of humankind, no one has ever said, "I thought I was a brilliant observer of politics but this new information proves that my brain is the size of a tiny mouse turd." Trump's prank literally can't be exposed by anyone but him.

Trump is smart enough to never admit that his presidential aspirations are no more than marketing. To admit the trick would damage his brand. But he has no need to ever expose the prank. Trump, the magnificent bastard, has figured out a way to have his cake and eat it too. The people who are in on the joke find it entertaining. The people who will never know it's a joke have raised their opinion of him so much that he's the leading Republican presidential contender. And his TV ratings are up, so from a marketing standpoint it's working.

Granted, many people are turned off by Trump's pomposity. He knows that. But he also knows that success doesn't come from bland acceptance by the entire world. It comes from the ability to inspire the few. He's nailing that part. I just spent my morning writing about him.

The other genius part of his marketing is that he knows people are influenced by repetition more than reason. The attention he gets for his alleged presidential ambitions allow him to tell you over and over again that all things Trump are amazing. That part of the plan is working too.

Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +533
  • Print
  • Share


Sort By:
Apr 20, 2011
If Trump does decide to run and looks like a serious contender for the Republican nomination when that vote is near, will you withdraw your endorsement?

I'd endorse the practical joke. But not the candidate...

[I'll endorse the first candidate that has a practical plan to fix the budget. That means I'll be endorsing no one. -- Scott]
Apr 20, 2011
Scott, I'm with you all the way on this post and also in the recent "sock puppet" kerfluffle, but there's one recurring comment of yours that I don't get. How does attending a top school mark someone as being in genius range? There are lots of ways to get in that don't require you to be a genius. I doubt that even the median student at the top universities qualifies as a genius.

Or maybe I need to update my definition of the term.

[The genius bar is lower than most people realize. A common definition is being in the top 2% of IQ. The people who squeak in to the bottom of the range, including me, have little in common with the Einsteins at the top. I doubt there are many people at Harvard that test below the top 2%. -- Scott]
+9 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2011
Oh I get it now; someone's hoping for a VP nomination! The Trump/Dilbert ticket!
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2011
Your endorsement was for exactly the reasons I was expecting it to be for.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2011
Its a sad state of affairs when so very many people take him seriously. But as someone else noted, when the other candidates have so very little to offer, its not surprising that they do. Clowns seem like a step up.
Apr 20, 2011
The real question is who will be Trump's VP? Gary Busey or Meatloaf?
+29 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2011
I was skeptical when Mr. Adams said he was going to manage to finally offend everyone he hadn't yet, since he hasn't offended me and I didn't think it likely he would, but as a public whistler I find his comments unacceptable! If I was paying anything to be on his website I would certainly stop immediately. My day on stage as the primo virtuoso will come! and I'm sure everyone who hears me is impressed, the cries to shutup and knock it off only come from the jealous or uneducated. Who doesn't enjoy a whistled rendition of Immigrant Song?

On a side note about birthers, I've always thought it convenient that they waited until after Obama was elected to start whinning about seeing a birth certificate. Obama may not show his birth certificate, but John McCain was clearly not born in the United States.
Apr 20, 2011
A lot of people don't remember that Adolph Hitler started out hosting a little-known radio show called "Jew or Gypsy?" where a celebrity panel would ask questions and try to guess the ethnicity of a contestant.

To cure a dip in his ratings, Hitler decided to grow a joke moustache and run for Fuhrer of Germany. Turned out he was a master of that comedic form, sort of the Andy Kaufman of his time. Never dreaming the public would take seriously his whole "Aryan-master-race" thing, he was nonetheless swept up in a wave of popularity (despite his bad hair).

(Trivia question: Who hosts "Jew or Gypsy" today?)
Apr 20, 2011
Please forgive my shortcomings if I fail to become a fan of someone who uses the stupidity and gullibility of others for personal gain. As it appears the Donald has mastered. We've got way to many of this type walking around the U.S. capitol already.
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2011
Agree totally, Scott. Now, explain the practical joke that is Sarah Palin. This, from someone who has long identified with the GOP, but is now struggling mightily...
+13 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2011
Graduating from Wharton is a measure of the Wharton school's genius, not so much the Donald. I know it sounds petty, but perhaps they accepted his transfer from Fordham because his family was fabulously wealthy. Donald inherited a $400 million dollar windfall from his dad who was, truly, an entrepeneurial self-made real-estate tycoon. Donald took that dough, and in the biggest real esate boom in American history turned the dough into, well, nobody knows for sure, because, Donald keeps on objecting to estimates of his worth (he sued the guy who wrote $250 million, and objected to Deutsche bank's estimate of less than $800 million in 2005.) The joke was on Wharton, since the Donald has been called "the least charitable billionaire" and allegedly has not given Wharton big bucks, even though two of his kids have gone there.

OK, re-reading that, it DOES look petty. And envious. I guess he reminds me of so much that is wrong with no consequences gambling in real estate and wall street.

Maybe we should all just enjoy the PT Barnum act, but I can't since he sure seems to be fooling most of the people. I don't care about the pseudo-presidential run, but hearing you call this guy a genius, makes me sad.
+31 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2011
Nice post, Donald.
+22 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2011
I don't know which is funnier -- the prank itself, or the fact that the other GOP candidates are so bad that they make Trump look credible, despite such obvious antics and bad hair.
+8 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2011
If the GOP seriously backs Trump this election it's a sign they're taking a mulligan this round and gearing up for 2016.
Apr 20, 2011
Its more hilarious and tragic the way it really is. Most of my republican friends ( I am a non-american BTW) know that its a prank. He's just popular amongst them because they find it funny.
Apr 20, 2011
The danger here is that, sometimes, the joke becomes reality. A number of years ago, I heard this guy on the radio that was absolutely amazing. His act just blew me away. The jokes were so subtle ... I thought this guy has to be one of the greatest comedians in the world. Later, I found out that there are people who actually take Rush Limbaugh seriously.
+7 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2011
You still haven't managed to offend me yet, and a political endorsement is certainly not going to do the trick. It's not an easy task, but I can think of a few things that might work. Good luck!

When you're done, try insulting everybody on earth individually, in alphabetical order.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2011
This is a pretty good approximation of the level of genius we've seen from Donald Trump and, uh, other people around here lately:


I mean: Acting like an ass and thereby pissing people off? Saying provocative things that you don't actually mean? That is some high-level stuff, the likes of which we've only seen from every eighth-grader ever. Yes, thank goodness for the geniuses, for if not for them, who would delight us with such intricately crafted antics?
Apr 20, 2011
You just wrote down the conversation I had with my boss yesterday. The man is a marketing genius. You should trademark "The Magnificent Bastard." I think you could sell it to him at a good price.
Apr 20, 2011
I agree it's a genius move. It's got him the attention he wanted. On the other hand, he's just an annoying media !$%*! and I do wish he would just go away.
Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog