Will Trump's Signal-to-Noise Problem Sink Him and Us?
Does Donald Trump really want to be president?
Ask me a couple of weeks ago, when he was riding high, closing in the polls, and I would have rolled my eyes in disbelief at the question. Now I'm not so sure. I wrote long ago the presidency was Trump's to lose. I meant it then and I mean it now—only Trump can bring down Trump. Unfortunately, he's doing it. His signal-to-noise problem is getting the better of him. He doesn't know where to pick a fight, so he's doing it everywhere.
And it's hard to believe he's doing it when his hugely tarnished opponent, Hillary Clinton—just announced by the AP as having magically sewn up the nomination before Tuesday's California primary—is so easy to beat. You really do have to wonder if Trump wants to win the presidency—or just to "be right" in every conceivable argument, even, and especially, those he shouldn't be having.
If it's the latter, he is truly betraying his supporters, the country and ultimately himself in a big way. Trump has said—in an interview with Megyn Kelly and elsewhere—that if he loses, his entire candidacy will have been a complete waste of time and money. He wouldn't have done anything. He couldn't be more right on that one. And not just for him.
But what do I mean about this signal-to-noise problem? I don't believe that Trump is a racist or a sexist, but his inability to distinguish between what's important and what's not, his confusion of signal and noise that propels him into making accusations and arguments he shouldn't, makes him seem like one or, at the very least, gives his adversaries plenty of ammunition to convince people of it.
His comments about Judge Curiel presiding over the"Trump University" lawsuit are an obvious case in point. Practically the first thing out of Trump's mouth was the judge was a "Mexican" whom Donald would pursue legally if he (Trump) were elected president. What an absolutely dopey thing to say! And then he doubled down on it, until Bill O'Reilly gave him a chance to wiggle ever so slightly out. (Whether Trump knows it or not, O'Reilly is his best friend at the moment.) Trump's behavior in this instance is the reaction of a man who's not thinking, just talking, and WAY over-concerned about defending every little thing—the signal-to-noise problem. He just can't tell the difference. That may make sense on a building site, but the world is not a building site. Things take precedence, especially for a president.