Sunday, November 20, 2016

Donald Trump, Tweetbaiter in Chief

There were many interesting moments in the 60 Minutes interview of Donald Trump last week. Here are four of them, in order of when they occurred in the interview.

1. On Trump's use of rhetoric during the campaign. This portion of the interview stands out to me because it reminds me not to underestimate Trump's understanding of crowd psychology. He finds ways to connect with people. Does he mean what he says? Does he say what he means? Sometimes yes, sometimes who knows. Apparently he will say what he needs to say to motivate and energize people. From the interview transcript:

Lesley Stahl: Are you going to sometimes have that same rhetoric that you had on the stump? Or are you going to reign it in?

Donald Trump: Well, sometimes you need a certain rhetoric to get people motivated. I don’t want to be just a little nice monotone character and in many cases I will be.

2. To me, the headline news of the interview was Trump saying that if abortion "were overturned, it would go back to the states," a scenario for women that would mean "they’ll perhaps have to go, they’ll have to go to another state." From the transcript:

Lesley Stahl: During the campaign, you said that you would appoint justices who were against abortion rights. Will you appoint-- are you looking to appoint a justice who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade?

Donald Trump: So look, here’s what’s going to happen-- I’m going to-- I’m pro-life. The judges will be pro-life. They’ll be very—

Lesley Stahl: But what about overturning this law--

Donald Trump: Well, there are a couple of things. They’ll be pro-life, they’ll be-- in terms of the whole gun situation, we know the Second Amendment and everybody’s talking about the Second Amendment and they’re trying to dice it up and change it, they’re going to be very pro-Second Amendment. But having to do with abortion if it ever were overturned, it would go back to the states. So it would go back to the states and--

 Lesley Stahl: Yeah, but then some women won’t be able to get an abortion?

 Donald Trump: No, it’ll go back to the states.

Lesley Stahl: By state—no some --

 Donald Trump: Yeah.

 Donald Trump: Yeah, well, they’ll perhaps have to go, they’ll have to go to another state.

 Lesley Stahl: And that’s OK?

Donald Trump: Well, we’ll see what happens. It’s got a long way to go, just so you understand. That has a long, long way to go.

3. Trump is right about Twitter--it's an effective form of communication. It gives him a direct line to people. He also knows that he can bait reporters and pundits to overreact to his tweets. He can take over a news cycle with tweets about Hamilton, as we witnessed this weekend. We'll see if media can figure out how to handle his tweeting without becoming Trump's twitter fool. From transcript:

Lesley Stahl: But are you going to be tweeting and whatever you’re upset about just put out there when you’re president?

Donald Trump: So it’s a modern form of communication, between Face-- you know, Facebook and Twitter and I guess Instagram, I have 28 million people. 28 million people--

Lesley Stahl: So you are going to keep it up?

Donald Trump: It’s a great form of communication. Now, do I say I’ll give it up entirely and throw out, that’s a tremendous form-- I pick up-- I’m picking up now, I think I picked up yesterday 100,000 people. I’m not saying I love it, but it does get the word out. When you give me a bad story or when you give me an inaccurate story or when somebody other than you and another network, or whatever, ‘cause of course, CBS would never do a thing like that right? I have a method of fighting back. That’s very tough--

Lesley Stahl: But you’re going to do that as president?

Donald Trump: I’m going to do very restrained, if I use it at all, I’m going to do very restrained. I find it tremendous. It’s a modern form of communication. There should be nothing you should be ashamed of. It’s-- it’s where it’s at. I-- I do believe this, I really believe that, um-- the fact that I have such power in terms of numbers with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et cetera, I think it helped me win all of these races where they’re spending much more money than I spent. You know, I spent my money. A lot of my money. And I won. I think that social media has more power than the money they spent, and I think maybe to a certain extent, I proved that.

4. What is Trump's actual position about marriage equality? Do we take him at his word that it's "settled" and he's "fine with that"? I don't know, but it's notable that he describes marriage equality as settled but does not see Roe v. Wade in the same way. From transcript:

Lesley Stahl: Well, I guess the issue for them is marriage equality. Do you support marriage equality?

Donald Trump: It-- it’s irrelevant because it was already settled. It’s law. It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean it’s done.

Lesley Stahl: So even if you appoint a judge that--

Donald Trump: It’s done. It-- you have-- these cases have gone to the Supreme Court. They’ve been settled. And, I’m fine with that.

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