The Credibility of a Psychopath

This is a comment I posted in response to Charles Blow's 9/8 column that the press's failure to hold Trump accountable for his repeated lies explains why a 15% majority in a recent poll found Trump more honest than Clinton:

It truly is mysterious, how any sane person could vote for an obvious psychopath like Trump. Of course the media deserves much blame, but what about our fellow citizens? At the moment, to be sure, we just have polls, and people can tell pollsters anything they want. Still, an extraordinarily large number of Americans is obviously considering a vote for this creature. As to Trump's lead in believability, I think that comes down to optics, and the possibility that many people disregard the content of what is said in favor of the person's demeanor. Trump, an accomplished huckster, in presenting a spontaneous self, peppered with "trust me" and "believe me" comments, comes across as credibly as any TV evangelist or con man must if they are to make a living at fooling people. (See the NPR interview with Jerry Springer making this point on 9/30/16, http://www.wnyc.org/story/jerry-springer-knows-about-mixing-politics-entertainment/?utm_source=Newsletter%3A+WNYC+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=0a0e12244d-Daily_Brief_July_4_20141_26_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_edd6b58c0d-0a0e12244d-68710341&mc_cid=0a0e12244d&mc_eid=5e42d777cb) By contrast, Clinton is obviously careful, lawyerly, and defensive of her privacy; she couldn't persuade an eskimo to buy a heater with this manner.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think it's accurate to describe Trump as a psychopath, although I believe he is an unbalanced personality who would be dangerously unpredictable in the unlikely event he ever becomes proprietor of the Oval Office.

    It's an interesting question as to why he's generally given more credit for honesty than Hillary. They are, in my judgment, both liars, but in a very different way. Keith has his finger on it by describing Trump as a huckster. I've given a fair amount of thought to hucksters and what it is that makes them the way they are. I think the key is that, rather like actors, they have the remarkable ability to suspend disbelief in themselves and temporarily trust in the lies they tell. They convey a kind of honesty because they ARE being honest in the moment. This honesty wins people over and closes the sale, whether the merchandise is snake oil or a bogus ideology. Hillary, on the other hand, does not believe her own lies and thus comes across as duplicitous as she tells them. People who sense this don't like it even when they agree with her politics.