Baseball legend has it that the great Babe Ruth pointed his bat at center field as though predicting that he would hit the next pitch there for a home run. . . and then DID hit the ball there for a home run. If this story is true, then he bragged – and then made good on the brag.
Dizzy Dean, the great Saint Louis Cardinals pitcher, once predicted that “Me and Paul (little brother Paul Dean who was also a pitcher on the Cardinal’s staff) would win 40 games next year.” They failed to win the 40 games due to an injury, but did deliver a pennant. Another case where someone bragged, – then delivered on the brag.
Joe Namath “guaranteed” a victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, then delivered the victory. He bragged – then made good on the brag.
Muhammed Ali repeatedly claimed to be “the greatest of all time.” He bragged – and (at least arguably) made good on the brag. In each of these instances, there is an old saying that applies. “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.”
In the latest set of polls that show a slow, steady decline in Donald Trump’s approval ratings, there was one particularly noteworthy result. Republican supporters of Trump finally began reluctantly admitting they had been wrong about Trump. His (already very weak) support among Democrats and Independents continued to slowly erode, but the biggest drop in those who approved of the job Trump was doing came (finally) from Republicans. One poll showed that Trump’s approval amongst Republicans dropped by a full 7%. (from 84% approval to 77% approval in the month between the last set of polls and this month’s polls.)
So what does that mean? What does it say about how Trump is increasingly viewed, even by Republicans who previously believed in him? Two noteworthy things can be “taken away” from these polls.
- It takes time to admit you have made a mistake. Particularly one that is really a humdinger of a mistake. But eventually, most intelligent people can admit their mistakes given time. For Trump, time is not a reliable ally. The longer he goes on in his current direction (the only direction he knows,) the more time his smarter supporters have to grudgingly admit they made a mistake.
- The second “takeaway” is related to the brags by Babe Ruth, Dizzy Dean, Joe Namath, and Muhammed Ali. Ruth, Dean, Namath, and Ali were technically “braggarts,” but by delivering on their brags, they stood out in a positive way. There is such a thing as “positive bragging.” They bragged, but they were not common, garden-variety blowhards. They delivered.
But for every braggart who delivers on the brag, there have been millions of common, garden-variety blowhards whose claims to past glory were either made up from whole cloth, or grossly exaggerated. For every bragging prediction of greatness that is lived up to, there are millions of predictions that were simply meaningless hot air, made by common, garden-variety blowhards.
We all know at least one of these garden-variety blowhards. Some of them, we make allowances for. Some of them, we care enough about that we ignore their lies about past glories, and just feel sorry for them when they brag of future accomplishments that they (and we) know they won’t actually have. One such blowhard in my own life was a guy we all laughingly called “Big Don.”
Big Don was small, weak, and ineffectual at everything he did except for hunting and fishing. He was a good hunter and fisherman. When he bragged about all the six figure incomes he had earned, we all privately just noticed that he drove a beat up old clunker car. When he bragged of his sexual conquests, we all couldn’t help but notice that (wherever we were at the time) none of the women/girls THERE were interested in him. Even his very real hunting and fishing accomplishments were an object of derision because every fish got bigger by the minute as the story wore on, and every deer became a once in a lifetime trophy buck. No one believed anything he said, and no one took anything he said seriously. He was a known blowhard, and little else.
Which brings us to the point. Trump is increasingly being seen by supporters (that I know and listen to – and probably to many who I have no contact with) as the garden-variety blowhard that they find at the corner bar, the grocery store, the sporting event etc. Originally, Trump supporters made allowances for Trump’s bombastic bragging because (in my opinion) they perceived him to be an uber-competent, self-made billionaire who would “deliver on the brags.” Initially, they perceived his incessant bragging like they perceived the brags of Ruth, Dean, Namath, and Ali. . . predictions of success likely to come true. THAT is the notion that every day gets harder for them to cling to — that Trump is not a “special blowhard,” but just a common, garden-variety blowhard.
Now, as it becomes increasingly clear that he is neither brilliant, nor competent, nor even actually interested in doing a good job, they are having to slowly and grudgingly conclude that his bragging is not going to be “delivered on.” Trump is not Ruth. Far from it. His “called shots” never materialize. He is not Dizzy Dean. His impossible “predicted victory totals” never come close to being lived up to.
Trump is not Namath. His constant “guarantees” so reliably fail to bear fruit, that they have become a national and international joke. And Trump is not Ali. Ali’s claim to be “the greatest,” bothered many people (including me) but by God, at the end of his career, you couldn’t really deny that he was one of a kind.
Trump is not “one of a kind.” He’s a common, garden-variety bragging blowhard. Nothing more, and nothing less. Every new day reveals that in greater and greater detail.
He’s the same as every “Big Don,” in every bar and grocery store, or at every sporting event, and/or gathering of any kind. He’s like the guy we slow down, cross the street, or even change direction to avoid having to listen to if we see him first.
He’s like the guy we warn our children not to take seriously because they are young, impressionable, and easily fooled. He’s just like the guy whose “inside dope” we roll our eyes at and ignore. He’s no different from the fool who believes his own lies, and can’t imagine that others don’t.
THAT is how to explain the number of Republicans who are (finally) “becoming unfooled,” by Trump. They are coming to the conclusion that there will be no dramatic victory that makes the bragging less offensive — that the bragging is all there is. There is nothing behind it.
No big victories, no dramatic successes, no legislative achievements have happened, and the smart money in the Republican party is now beginning to bet that none will happen. As it stands now, any accomplishments that do occur for Republicans are most likely to happen in spite of Trump, not because of him. It becomes more and more obvious that believing in Trump holds nothing for Republicans but disappointment and the crushing realization that they bet on a loudmouth nag who isn’t even likely to finish the race, much less win it.
Seven percent of Republicans realized this between the prior month’s polls, and this month’s polls. This is the light at the end of the tunnel many have been waiting for.
OR. . . I’m full of it. One of the two. Time will tell. Now that the slippage has begun, (and if I am right) Trump will lose another 2 to 3 % of his support among Republicans each month for the next three months.
I’ll go out on a limb, and predict that he will not fall below 30% approval overall. There a lot of “Big Dons” inside and outside the Republican party who will not abandon him. He is (after all) just like them. The misogynists, the racists, the religious bigots, the misinformed, and the least intelligent 20% of the population will remain tightly tied to Trump. He will remain their guy because he is one of them. In the end, if I am right, they will eventually be his only support.