What's the worst, most damaging thing you can say about Donald Trump. That he's weak on foreign policy? A bully? A bigot? Not as wealthy as he says? Not a great businessman?
No. Despite all those being accurate descriptions, those have all already been tried, with almost no success.
The worst, most damaging thing you can say about him is this: He's not very interesting. He's a bore.
Calling him that is the one thing he won't be able to stand, since the constant spotlight is his addiction.
But he is a bore. Of the crashing variety. This is heretical I know. There seems to be nearly universal agreement that even if one detests Trump, it has to be said he is a great entertainer.
Sorry. He isn't. He is bumbling. He isn't very bright (yes, I know he tells us about his great brain every day). He says the same thing over and over. He never changes his style -- it is always abrasive and in your face.
He always adds his irritating little tag lines ("Candidate so and so is a lightweight, THAT I CAN TELL YOU.") Those "that I can tell you" add-ons are almost a nervous tic for him (as well as providing conclusive evidence that he and the made up publicist from the 80s "John Miller" are one in the same, as they used that same phrase.
I know it is ironclad accepted conventional wisdom that Donald is a great showman. Maybe he was once, before he began his run for commander in chief.
But now, he is a tired cliché of insults and egomania. And he is boring.
Like the drunk at the end of the bar, he's amusing -- for awhile. He shouts out insulting nicknames to his barmates -- "Hey dummy! Hey ugly! Hey little Marco!"
At first we laugh. But very soon, we turn to each other and say, "That's all he's got," and we move to another part of the bar.
It's always interesting to see what emerges as the unassailable quality of a candidate. Hillary may be secretive and a little paranoid, but she sure is smart. George W. Bush may not be that bright and lacks foreign policy experience, but he sure is likable. Donald Trump may be a racist and misogynist, but he is a great showman.
Nope. He isn't a great showman. He's a crashing bore.
I had the privilege, if that's the word, to watch Chris Christie up close for awhile. The rap on him was, well, he's rude and a bully, but he sure knows how to work the crowds. And that became the "book" on Christie. He knew how to work the crowds.
Except he didn't. If you watched "the crowds" when Christie held town hall meetings or wandered out to meet voters, as I did dozens of times, the crowds were as much unimpressed with him as they were charmed. But the label stuck, and as Christie wandered around New Hampshire early this primary season, commentators spoke that it was a perfect state for him because he could practice "retail politics" and, yes. charm the voters.
If commentators think a bit more than they have and begin to question the premise that, no matter what other vile qualities Trump has, he is a great entertainer, there might be a real shift in how voters perceive the overblown court jester from 5th Avenue.
What makes someone who can't think on his feet except to hurl personal insults a "great entertainer"? Who is this "great showman" who can't stop talking about himself and whose press conferences are endless? Because he brings his own brand of steaks to a press conference, that's showmanship? Really?
I concede I am in a minority. Although I find the guy dangerous and stupid and unable to show interest in anything beyond himself, I also think he is flat out dull. When the stand-up comic never changes his material, we lose interest. If Arnold Schwarzenegger played the same role over and over ... okay, bad example.
Trump is a repetitive bore. We can only hope the media catch on to this and point it out before the election (unlikely since they benefit from his shopworn routine) and that his followers realize he is just a dreary cartoon (even more unlikely.)
But once we begin to call Trump boring and dull, he won't be able to stand it. It will be the one thing that will rattle him. And remember, on one of his insult tears against Barack Obama, Trump said that in business, rattling someone is a good thing.
If we can rattle Trump by pointing put his dullness, it will be a very good thing.