Loose Lips Sink Writs: What Trump Can Learn From Tom Brady
The day following his team’s dramatic 2017 Super Bowl win over the Atlanta, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady tweeted about Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan: “What a loser. Anyone could beat him. The failing Falcons are morons.”
Of course, Brady did not tweet any such thing. Brady had won the Super Bowl. He didn’t need to brag or rub salt in the wounds of the vanquished Falcons. Winners don’t need to tell the world that they’re champions. He grabbed Gisèle and they roared home for a party.
He could have trolled the football world that had ripped him over the Patriots’ in famous Deflategate and Spygate. But he held his tongue.
So why doesn’t Donald Trump get that? A man whose mantra is all about what a winner he is doesn’t seem to know how to act when he wins. Unlike Brady, he’s mystified about what to do when the hand him the trophy.
Hint: When you’re a champion you don’t need to explain.
Trump engineered the greatest political upset in memory when he defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. The world was his oyster. While devastated Democrats ramped up the three Rs (Recounts, Russians, Resistance) in the weeks and months following the vote, all Trump had to do to silence them was tweet the electoral college score: “307-228”.
That would have suited Brady. As we know now, Trump did nothing of the sort. Instead of looking forward, Trump has remained lost in the election campaign’s mud pit, firing off insults and non-sequiturs at people with whom he has no need to engage in debate any longer. His intemperate outbursts not only gave oxygen to his enemies, they opened his words to inspection by people who make their living dissecting statements.
This was ill-advised. Trump uses words like firemen use fire retardant: as a scatter-shot blanket to soak up the flames he’s stoked. Harkening to his louche days as a guest/ inadvertent goof on Howard Stern, he talks to establish an attitude, not clarify his thoughts. It’s goomba chic.
That works well when the woman next to you in the Stern studio is naked. But with the sharks of the progressive think tank known as CNN parsing every syllable, it’s a reckless strategy. For which has paid dearly. The simple gaffes— such as Jeff Sessions meeting the Russian ambassador— conflated into national crises by the progressive press in January look positively innocent six months out.
Now, he’s talked himself into a position where he might need to fire the special prosecutor Robert Mueller who’s picking through the Trump resumé for hot stuff. Elections have consequences, said Barack Obama (to his chagrin). Words— even dumb ones— have consequences too. Like many a general, Trump has learned that fighting on multiple fronts is a terrible strategy.
Worse, the flim-flammery of Twitter cat fights has exposed him to a counter attack from the #NeverTrump hacks he’d silenced last fall. Mis-stating and lying about a range of otherwise trivial issues has given the GOP dissidents the courage to again put ground between themselves and POTUS 45.
Their grudging acceptance of the flamboyant one as the head of their party last November— the perch he’d fought for so ruthlessly last fall— is an open question again. They’re already talking about 2020. He gave it away. Hence, the infirm John McCain delivering the mortal blow to the GOP’s healthcare replacement plan in the Senate.
As theatre it was rich with vindication for McCain personally; as politics, it played into the hands of the hapless Democrats, whose policy book can best be summed up by CNN’s Jim Acosta defending the statue of Liberty in press briefings.
Creative chaos is apparently the chosen strategy favoured by some if Trump’s closest advisers (Steve Bannon). The idea being that DC is corrupt. Disturbing its equilibrium is part of the plan. There is merit in that. Watching collective Washington thrash and roar like Tyranosaurus Rex in the tar pit has its joys.
But the president’s pivot point should have emerged by now, the thrust of Trump’s agenda advertised in the election should be clear. But by misunderstanding the perks of winning, everyone from the intelligence community to his own party is now pinching off his fuel supply. The media harpies were to be expected, but even the supportive press is now apathetic.
Yes, middle American remains behind him. As cartoonist Scott Adams (Dilbert) points out, Trump’s approval numbers are low, but they’re still higher than the ratings for his adversaries in Congress and the media. But he will need those people to turn out next time he runs, because Lord Knows, the Democrats will be turning out the Chicago cemeteries next time they have a chance to beat him.
He can do that by acting like the winner he was when he hammered Hillary Clinton with her own glass ceiling. Act like Tom Brady. See how that works for a while. You might be surprised.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy.is the host of the podcast The Full Count with Bruce Dowbiggin on anticanetwork.com. He’s also a regular contributor three-times-a-week to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author of seven books. His website is Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com)