Donald Trump remains a marvel and a riddle to the political and cultural elites. Trump manifests in the world of politics as a wascally wabbit, a wise-cracking, over-the-top, political Bugs Bunny.
And wins. What’s up, Doc?
Despite his splendid pretensions and the adulation of his followers Trump is not infallible. That superpower remains exclusively papal and then only ex cathedra.
Still, love him or hate him, Trump certainly has demonstrated an ability to, more often than not, reduce his adversaries to hapless Elmer Fudds. How does he do it?
Trump’s Republican vassals and Trump’s rivals and Trump’s adversaries all would do well to understand the real source of Trump’s superpowers and the massive political capital he thereby garnered. We all could benefit from such an understanding.
By such an understanding, Trump’s nemesis, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md), might conjure the elusive gold kryptonite with which to sap Trump's superpowers. Or, Trump’s faithful steward, the Honorable Mark Meadows, might discover how to avert the threats to Trump’s powers, enabling Trump to establish the first American imperial dynasty.
Trump’s rivals would benefit from mastering his techniques to seize his mantle and become Augustus to Trump’s Julius. O Caesar Live Forever!
How? Dr. Rainer Zitelmann, internationally acclaimed author and public intellectual, has plausibly solved the mystery behind Trump’s superpowers. He reveals all in his latest book, How People Become Famous.
Trump is but one among a dozen celebs Zitelmann analyzes: Albert Einstein, Andy Warhol, Karl Lagerfeld, Stephen Hawking, Muhammed Ali, Donald Trump, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Madonna, Princess Diana and Kim Kardashian propelled themselves from obscurity to fame. And fortune.
Whether your thing is science, art, fashion, sports, politics, entertainment, tech or pop culture, Zitelmann’s How People Become Famous has something for you. And for those who fancy fame and covet its attendant fortune he lays out how they did it and how you can, too.
Fame doesn’t derive primarily from merit. Garnering publicity is itself an artform. Fame comes, Zitelmann shows, from determined and adept self-promotion.
Einstein’s contributions to physics were epic. However, most people (myself included) do not even dimly understand the theory of relativity. Einstein’s popular acclaim came from his savvy and relentless self-promotion.
Stephen Hawking’s celebrity, and wealth, came from a shrewd ability to court publicity more than from his paltry scientific contributions.
In art, fashion and entertainment, Warhol and Lagerfeld, Oprah and Madonna, became iconic by virtue of their canny — and uncanny — self-promotion. This is also so for sports icons Ali and Schwarzenegger and pop-culture idols Princess Diana and Kim Kardashian.
Steve Jobs, who, for a song, put 10,000 songs into your shirt pocket before going on to transform the world with the iPhone ($32 million of computing power for $1,000) also relied on shrewd self-promotional techniques.
Zitelmann distills the source of Trump’s own mojo as “polarization and provocation” to capture the headlines. He ignores the conventions of respectability, thereby garnering attention as something of a pop culture shock jock.
“That the media write about him is more important to him than what they write about him.” Trump’s exploiting this insight brought him around $5 billion of free publicity in the 2016 election.
The haute bourgeois Trump clearly prefers burgers to filet mignon. Trump relentlessly displayed ostentation to cultivate Gatsby-like notoriety, not for carnal pleasure.
Trump also relentlessly deploys bragging and hyperbolic self-praise. He provides an iconic visual signature with his leonine hairdo.
And Trump maintains obsessive control over his narrative. He weaves even his failures into an epic story in which he styles himself the hero.
Zitelmann shows how Muhammed Ali, according to objective measures, was not the best at landing and taking punches in the ring. Yet Ali harnessed the power of declaration, “I am the greatest,” and of elegant doggerel, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” and of vilifying his opponents.
He captured our imaginations, becoming a wealthy superstar. From fame to fortune!
Madonna was not an extraordinarily gifted singer or dancer. Her iconic status came about because she “recognized a basic law of self-marketing: it is not solely or even primarily about being better than everyone else, it is important to be different than everyone else.”
Madonna’s creed? “I won’t be happy until I am as famous as God.” She came darn close.
We live in what the late, great, post-Marxist French philosopher Guy Debord called The Society of the Spectacle. Donald Trump, unlikely to have ever even heard of (much less be impressed by) Debord, understands that making a spectacle of oneself paves the road to fortune.
Trump stands alone in politics in using spectacle to dominate popular culture and its curious subgenre, politics. Will one or more of Trump’s vassals, rivals or adversaries absorb and appropriate his secret? Will you?
Rainer Zitelmann's How People Become Famous reveals how.
Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply-Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $94T. Read Ralph Benko's reports — More Here.
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