As one who underestimated Donald Trump’s campaign until the moment Wisconsin got called, I’m doing a lot of retroactive learning.
Some have argued that President Trump’s recent State of the Union speech was designed primarily to troll Democrats. I disagree. The trolling effect (e.g., a steady stream of bad optics televised in prime time—and subsequently easily turned around into an RNC ad—showing Democrats behaving disrespectfully, rolling their eyes, shaking their heads, groaning, looking down at their cell phones, and even walking out in a huff) is real, but was a fully expected side-benefit of the address. No, the President is on something of a John Boyd “Destruction and Creation” mission.
Operating like a general giving the command for his massive political army to advance on the adversary, the State of the Union speech was the best political oration of my lifetime. I’ll try to quickly detail why by quoting a personal favorite, Richard Fernandez of the Belmont Club. In a piece he wrote in December 2016, just prior to Trump’s inauguration as our 45th President and in the context of Trump’s signaling with respect to what should be our posture with China, Fernandez wrote that:
The Democratic Party should stop underestimating Donald Trump. The good news is that he moves at nongovernment speed. The bad news is that, due to his outsider status, nobody knows exactly where he is going.
Fernandez, like McLaughlin the year before, was noting the uptempo speed of Trump. McLaughlin’s discussion of Trump’s use of the OODA Loop, correctly noted that speed lies at the core of Boyd’s theory of conflict, and has been the most influential element of Boyd’s strategic thinking. Further, “Boyd’s core insight was about the interactive and disruptive nature of speed on human decision-making: success in conflict can be rapid and dramatic if one can “operate inside the OODA Loop” of the opponent.”
When you begin to understand this, you’re well on your way to understanding our 45th president.
The whole thing is worth a read.