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Much ink and many megabytes have been spilled and saved on the debate that Trump turned into a 5th grade school-yard argument. Of all the analyses of that Trump disaster one has not received enough attention. That was when Trump reacted to Biden's use of the term "smart."
Not just in the game of poker but in any contest of wits, every contestant has a "tell." Trump's was his reaction when Biden said Trump needs to get smart about COVID. Trump was surprised and responded in a way that exposed his deep insecurity about his abilities. Two quotes from his response caught my attention:
- "Did you use the word smart?"
"Don't ever use the word smart with me."
The content and tenor of his response clearly exposed his hatred and fear of that word when used against him.
Trump is deeply insecure. His insecurity is probably founded on psychological abuse by his parents. I suspect his father often called Donald dumb, or not smart. Trump projects when he feels threatened or, in this case, when he is reminded of those insults which he knows are accurate. This insecurity, this primal fear, was exposed in his reflexive response demanding that the word never be used around him.
This is important because the cornerstone of almost any competition, especially verbal confrontation, is to knock your opponent off their stride. A strategic advantage is achieved when you force your opponent into an emotional state impairing their ability to respond to your positions or explain their own. Trump of all people knows this, and is quite good at it. When Biden accused Trump of not being smart he bested Trump at his own game.
All Biden needs to do is address the moderator and throw these darts while pointing at Trump:
- "He isn't very smart."
"He doesn't have the smarts to figure out any problem."
"If he was a little smarter he might be able to help the people who elected him."
If Biden does this, sit back and take dark pleasure at Trump's self-immolation.