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Believing Your Own Bullshit

There is a saying in business that the worst thing a company or person can do is start believing their own PR. PR is the bullshit that people and organizations put out in order to make themselves look better, but once you fall into the trap of believing your own PR, then you are in deep trouble.

For example, American auto makers convinced themselves that they didn’t need to innovate any more, that selling cars was like the fashion business. At that point, the major innovation that came out of Detroit was “planned obsolescence“. All they had to do was come out with something new and (slightly) different, and then sell it with slogans like “new and improved”. The height of this was when the entire industry decided that all they had to do to sell new cars was slap on some tail fins.

Dodge Coronet Tail Fin

When Detroit started believing that, it was only a matter of time before Asian automakers started eating their lunch.

So I always find it an interesting question whether people believe their own PR. And this is an obvious question with Donald Trump as he is pretty much only PR. The people who like him have all completely bought into his PR. But the question still remains whether the Donald himself believes it.

Let’s look at a recent example. Days after the San Bernardino shootings, Donald Trump proposed banning Muslims from the US, including tourists. This was not the first time Trump attacked Muslims, including the famous time when he claimed (without any evidence) that “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey cheered on 9/11.

Two days later, boxer Muhammad Ali (a Muslim) released a statement saying that political leaders should be responsible about what they say about Islam, and that killings like those in San Bernardino and Paris go against the teachings of Islam.

When Muhammad Ali died earlier this month, Donald Trump spoke very glowingly about Ali, calling him a “terrific guy”, “so generous” and an “amazing poet”. But when asked about Ali’s recent statement, Trump claimed that Ali’s statement was not about him. Trump told the New York Times:

“He never mentioned the name or anything like that,” he said, adding that if it were about him, Ali “would have mentioned the name.”

“No, that wasn’t about me. That was about other things,” Mr. Trump said.

There’s just one problem. The title of Ali’s statement was “Presidential Candidates Proposing to Ban Muslim Immigration to the United States.” Not only was it issued just two days after Trump had done just that, but I don’t remember any other candidate ever proposing a ban.

Another example is Trump’s oft-repeated claim that he can self-fund his own presidential campaign and thus not be beholden to special interests. So how can Trump explain spending the last few weeks fundraising in heavily Republican states? That’s right, Trump is attending private fundraising events for donors. You know, those special interests that Trump claims to have no interest in.

Then on Saturday, the Trump campaign sent out an “emergency” fund-raising email, saying “Right now we’re facing an emergency goal of $100,000 to help get our ads on the air. We need your contribution by 11:59 P.M. Tonight. Crooked Hillary is about to invade your TV with ads attacking Mr. Trump. But we’re preparing to fight back.”

Let’s ignore for a moment that if Trump is half as rich as he claims to be, he should be able to write a check for $100,000 out of petty cash. The bigger issue is that the very same day at a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Trump again repeated his claim that he will self-fund, saying “I’ll just keep funding my own campaign. I’m ok with that. That’s the easy way. I mean for me, that’s the easy way.”

So when Trump says things like this, is he just bullshitting us? Or does he really believe them? Or, to put it more bluntly, is he a sociopath or just a congenital liar? Or maybe both.



  1. Yudith wrote:

    Fellow Republicans and Trump supporters, this is a scam. If you ever see an email asking for funds for Donald Trump, it’s obviously a scam since he funds himself. Don’t give any money to such funds. Just put any fund-raising email from Donald Trump in the junk mail folder where it belongs. Don’t open it! It may have viruses!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2016 at 5:31 am | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    And it turns out that of the (paltry) $3.1 million that Trump raised in May, more than one million of that was paid to his companies and family members. Maybe Trump has the meaning of “self-funding” backwards and thinks it means that his campaign funds go to himself.

    Tuesday, June 21, 2016 at 5:38 am | Permalink
  3. Wildwood wrote:

    The guy is an out and out crook and con man. Nothing he does should surprise anyone at this point. The only surprise, and even that is not a huuuuuge surprise, is the number of people who fall for his spiel. They see and hear what only they want to see and hear.

    He’s the winner, even if he loses. If he wins, (horrible thought), he gets to be the president and forever be famous beyond his wildest dreams. If he loses, he still gets to be famous and can rake in money because his name recognition is now through the roof. People who might have heard little about him know his name, even in remote and far away places across the globe, and it will forever be etched into history. Possibly the biggest con EVER!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2016 at 9:15 am | Permalink
  4. Robin wrote:

    This election is going to define who “we are” as a country. As for Trump’s supporters it’s called “willful blindness.” America has a love-hate relationship with this concept!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink