Toon Musings: Dilbert’s Delusional Dad


Hey, folks! Are we having fun yet? The last time I wrote you, it was shortly before the election and I was soul-sick of the whole sordid enterprise. At that point I was sooo sick of Donald Trump, and was sooo anticipating not having to experience his hulking, dumpy, slouching presence, his puffy orange face, his stupid hair, his grating voice, and his bombastic, counterfactual worldview ever again. Unfortunately, 63 million of my fellow citizens decided to install this manifestly unfit manbaby as our nation’s Maximum Leader. I never watched his teevee show, never wanted to. Now I’m in it, god damn it. We all are, for worse or worser.

In my previous column, I mentioned cartoonist Scott Adams. Creator of Dilbert, he’s one of the most successful syndicated cartoonists working today, in a field that is notoriously hard to break into, much less excel at. He writes books on management, and is obviously a smart and articulate fellow. He’s a certified hypnotist, whatever that entails, and claims to understand how the human mind works. I suppose I should have every reason to emulate the guy. And he’s an enthusiastic supporter of our new president, Der Gropenführer. He has several reasons for doing so, most of them unconvincing: selfish rich prick doesn’t want to pay estate taxes, Clinton looks sick, Trump supporters will have better parties. Then he gets to the meat of his argument. As an expert on cognition, Mr. Adams sees in Trump a fellow Master Persuader:

Economies are driven by psychology. If you expect things to go well tomorrow, you invest today, which causes things to go well tomorrow, as long as others are doing the same. The best kind of president for managing the psychology of citizens – and therefore the economy – is a trained persuader. You can call that persuader a con man, a snake oil salesman, a carnival barker, or full of shit. It’s all persuasion. And Trump simply does it better than I have ever seen anyone do it. …Most of the job of president is persuasion. Presidents don’t need to understand policy minutia. They need to listen to experts and then help sell the best expert solutions to the public. Trump sells better than anyone you have ever seen, even if you haven’t personally bought into him yet. You can’t deny his persuasion talents that have gotten him this far.

I freely admit it, Trump has talent. He can read a room and pander to an audience like nobody’s business. He has a certain tactical cunning that enables him to effectively cheat whoever has the misfortune to be in a position to trust him. Was he taught that in business school, or is it the instincts of a lifelong grifter? Who knows? I can say that I wasn’t persuaded. 66 million of my fellow citizens weren’t persuaded. More, if you count the people who didn’t feel compelled to vote for anyone. And I sincerely doubt he would have gotten close enough to win the election on a technicality if he hadn’t the backing of a party that uses gerrymandering, and voter suppression, and has a well-funded media empire that buries its army of frightened, angry, misinformed consumers in a constant torrent of partisan bullshit.

But this assertion of his bears repeating: “Most of the job of president is persuasion.” That’s like saying that most of a writer’s job is typing. I would argue that most of a president’s job is, y’know, having a compelling, humane and feasible vision for the future of the country. Trump’s no more a visionary than he is a racist. Either would require him to have beliefs, and he has no belief in his wan little soul other than the wonderfulness of Trump, and the compulsion to make everyone know it.

So now Cheato Benito is president. What if he morphs into another Hitler? Adams warns us, if Trump turns into Hitler, it’ll be his opposition’s fault. See, it’ll be the Resistance that made him act that way. But good news, folks! If Hitler does occur, Scott Adams is on the case:

My promise: If Trump gets elected, and he does anything that looks even slightly Hitler-ish in office, I will join the resistance movement and help kill him. That’s an easy promise to make, and I hope my fellow citizens would use their Second Amendment rights to rise up and help me kill any Hitler-type person who rose to the top job in this country, no matter who it is.

I gleefully look forward to that day, when Cartoonist-by-Day Scott Adams decides that Action must be Taken, and we’re treated to the obligatory Strapping On of Gear montage:

A Montage 

Or maybe more like:

Another Montage 

I can’t wait! But I’m struck by the question: how can such a smart, accomplished guy harbor so very many wrong ideas? So much for emulation, and good riddance. Here’s an account of another, better cartoonist’s close call. Now I get to quit thinking about this.

Phil Maish is a freelance cartoonist of no repute. His modest efforts may be viewed at myth-fits.com. He has worked for the Government, the Press, the Opera, and a Soulless Corporation. Self-taught and beholden only to his formidable wife and amazing son, he spends his free time gadding about in his vintage autogyro and, with his faithful manservant Nicopol, exploring forgotten ruins, discovering hitherto unknown animal species, smashing spy rings, and regaling fellow members of the League of Intrepid Adventurers with tales of his intrepid adventures. 

 

Adams’s endorsement

Adams’s admonishment

Adams’s ultimatum

Scott Adams (& Dilbert) at Amazon

Arnold Gears Up (at YouTube)

Henching (at YouTube)

Another cartoonist’s close call