(photo by The Washington Examiner)
the action (generally illegal) of advertising goods that are an apparent bargain, with the intention of substituting inferior or more expensive goods.“a bait-and-switch scheme”
The term was first used in 1962, to describe an ascending advertising strategy. Ad folks also coined the term “Mad Men,” one of the most brilliantly self-aggrandizing terms in the history of language (and not a bad TV show).
Since then, of course, it’s become so familiar as to be idiomatic.
So why are we so duped by Trump’s ultimate (and ceaseless) sales strategy? Against his own party and voters, no less?
Consider the last two months alone. The Trump administration has suffered profound political losses, from health care to DACA to being out-Tweeted by Kim Jong Un (who probably loves the nickname Rocket Man, by the way. Take it from Scotty Potty: Teases never work with cool nicknames. Ever hear a bully say, “You throw like a girl, Diesel!”)?
Yet if you watched his weekend “rally” in Alabama, you’d think those inbreeders were welcoming MacArthur from the Pacific Theater. Watch in news replays, and you’ll see Trump, perhaps the glummest politician in American history, beam a true smile. He’s in his element.
Which just happens to be a used car lot.
In the rally, you can see him actually dropping the bait. First he made a brief pit stop at John McCain’s front door to drop a flaming bag of dog shit, presumably because McCain (who is about to enter the myth-o-sphere) is stealing the president’s headlines and may be the only Republican not left wearing spray-on tan backwash.
After calling the Senator names from afar, he then race-baited the huckleberries with a favorite alt-right ember: minorities who challenge American institutions. The NFL, Trump brayed, are filled with America-haters who should be automatically dismissed for not standing for the national anthem.
Teams, as expected, responded en masse today, kneeling to tell the president where to stick the rocket’s red glare. Also as expected, CNN and MSNBC went apoplectic with rage, as Fox, the state news service, defended President Pumpkinhead for telling it like it is.
So dropped was the bait. The switch, however, was made long prior. When he met with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to raise the debt ceiling to cover hurricane relief, a seismic and public victory for Democrats.
If anything, Democrats may be the biggest winners of a Trump presidency, which has been underscored by a singular strategy: Cave when it comes to negotiation, but throw out an impotent-yet-incendiary quote to appease the base.
He did it with Charlottesville. He did it with Joe Arpaio. He’s doing it now. Trump knows that coffee is for closers, and you do anything — anything — to take the sit, make the pitch, and get them to sign on the line that is dotted, as David Mamet once said.
And the media has no choice but to cover the misdirection. What is CNN going to do? Not cover the things he says? Somehow, that would be even less responsible than covering the bullshit.
Perhaps what’s needed is a mandatory warning, like with pharmaceutical commercials. Except instead of a post-commercial disclaimer, this could be superimposed under all stories: Warning: The following is misdirection. Too much attention may result in severe retardation and reverse mortgages.
And I know, Mr. Schumer, you were caught in a hot mic moment saying that, deep down, Trump “likes us. He likes me, anyway.”
Still, Senator, I wouldn’t expect a call in the morning.