The Clinton/Obama/Dems/mainstream media coalition vs. Trump information war drags on and Trump continues to confound his enemies, who still react in dismay that he is still in office.
Both sides remain very committed to continuing the fight. Trump often seems to act on gut instinct, instantaneously reading his enemies’ motives way more clearly than his enemies read him. Trump learned his enemies’ information warfare strategy, but his enemies have no real understanding of how Trump won the election or how to counter his strategy.
Yesterday, I read an editorial piece by Josh Marshall, Thoughts on the Greatness of Ulysses S. Grant, at TPM, which made me think about how Trump is still standing, despite the relentless information war being unleashed against him. The piece is very interesting, so put aside your partisan blinders and read Marshall’s thoughtful views on Grant’s leadership and writing. He offered some insights into Grant’s leadership, that I had never thought about before. Marshall writes about Grant’s transformational military leadership and the ways in which Grant threw the traditional military playbook out the window and experimented with maneuver warfare, but even more interesting than that insight, Marshall explains a theory of military operations, which Grant intuitively utilized to great advantage, even though the theory was not developed until a century later. Marshall writes:
“A century later, a military intellectual and US Air Force Colonel named John Boyd developed a theory of military operations known by the shorthand “OODA loops.” OODA stands for the process of Observe – Orient – Decide – Act, a framework to think about the constant interaction between our observation of our environment and the decisions we make in how to respond to it. Boyd’s insight was that if a combatant can move through this cycle sufficiently faster than an adversary he can get inside his opponent’s ‘OODA loops’. Specifically, if you can move rapidly enough from observation to decision and action, you can change the environment your opponent has observed while they are still deciding how to react to it.That causes a cycle of missteps and confusion leading to defeat. Boyd, a fighter pilot, developed his theory around aviation dogfights. But without the acronyms, game theory and mathematics, it was a similar insight that was allowing Grant to see the impact of mobility in defeating his opponents. Speed is not simply the pace at which actions occur. Sufficient speed changes the nature of those actions or, more specifically, changes the reactions to them and in so doing changes them as well.”
Marshall devotes a good portion of his piece to explaining the importance of writing reflecting clarity of vision and thought. He asserts Grant’s writing reflects an amazing clarity and ability to express himself concisely, which is assuredly more important than style and fancy phrasing in a military leader.
While President Trump is in no way a military genius and it’s a safe bet he has never read either Grant’s autobiography or about Boyd’s OODA loops, Trump has an intuitive genius (yes, I hesitated using that word in relation to Trump) for throwing his political enemies off-balance and for controlling the information battlefield, which the Left learned to dominate and control using the sycophantic, liberal mainstream media to disseminate and saturate the media reporting with talking points, narratives, memes, all designed to manipulate and control public opinion.
For decades the SPIN form of information warfare has allowed the Left to easily and successfully manipulate public opinion and reinforce it, by relentless repetition of the short talking points messaging filled with buzz words, which was then used to manufacture public opinion polling. The polling, which was really the result of what amounted to mass media brainwashing, with the repetitive spin, was sold as the definitive marker on what Americans believe and it was used to marginalize conservatives and political opinions that deviated from the Left’s spin.
Trump’s opponents keep recycling through their tired spin attacks (his taxes, his lying, Russian collusion, his mental instability, the sexual predation allegations), but they keep failing to take him down. Although most of Trump’s attacks are petty, filled with lies, often sound unhinged, and more often than not, are rather sloppily written tweets, what Trump has done is completely break through the Left’s lock on controlling the SPIN cycle.
Observing Trump’s use of Twitter and his public speaking, it’s easy to dismiss Trump as a loudmouth, know nothing, corrupt, lying, reprehensible excuse of a leader. His leadership, especially his penchant for playing even his own team members against each other, is assuredly toxic leadership, but when it comes to using his vastly smaller media platforms to fight the Left’s massively larger and powerful forces, Trump has learned to use his own charismatic showmanship to demolish their carefully constructed spin attacks and completely control the 24/7 news cycle, mostly using just his personal Twitter account and a handful of tweets a day. He doesn’t rely on drafting cumbersome, focus group-tested wording or emailing talking points, then disseminating to thousands of operatives and friendly media Leftists.
Trump does watch a lot of TV news, which the Left is using to discredit Trump, but what they don’t understand is he watches and then, without giving away his next move, he tweets or makes a few public statements, which invariably throw the Left’s carefully orchestrated spin attacks into disarray. Trump has an innate sense for how to manipulate the media, but he has a genius for getting inside his opponents’ OODA loops, leaving them scrambling and stuck recycling through their old spin attacks, while he has completely moved ahead of them and owned their information platforms.
Winning an information war is not about having the best “spin” or vast information platforms that far outmatch your opponents, it’s about understanding people and understanding the things that they care about. Trump understands people and he has a canny knack for manipulating people.
Trump spins faster and more effectively than his enemies and he has demolished the Left’s control of America’s media information platforms… using mostly a free, personal Twitter account. He doesn’t rely on expensive focus groups or fancy data experts; he trusts his own instincts.
Trump has broken through the Left’s information warfare OODA loops.
He broke through and demolished their SPIN cycle.
Whether he can win the information war remains to be seen, but he has the Left off-balance and in a constant state of panic, regrouping and recycling failed talking points messaging.