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Marc Sidwell on Trump’s appearance of authenticity (plus me on Rees-Mogg and Corbyn)

The original version of the quoted sentence that follows concerned sincerity rather than authenticity, but here is how Marc Sidwell recycles it, in his book about Trump called called How To Win Like Trump (which as of now you can download for free):

If you can fake authenticity, you’ve got it made.

The above slight-mis-quote appears at the beginning of the part of Sidwell’s book entitled “Secret Five: Appear Authentic”. Appear Authentic, not Be Authentic.

The reason I here re-quote this slight-mis-quote is to emphasise that although Marc Sidwell’s book is an admiring attempt to explain How Trump Did It, he by no means swallows the Trump myth whole. Rather does he analyse, among much else, how this Trump myth was created, and then swallowed whole and spread by an amazing number of Americans, including an amazing proportion of Trump’s enemies. After all: “Blurts out every piece of crap that enters his ridiculous looking head” is but a rude way of saying: “Here’s a guy who says what he thinks and means what he says”, “Here’s a guy who’s authentic”. I am learning a lot, some of which I had long suspected, and am enjoying this book very much. If you hate Trump, you probably wouldn’t enjoy this book nearly so much, but you would surely learn a lot.

Sidwell continues:

We live at a time where politicians and spokespersons of all kinds have been scripted to death. Message management, jargon and political correctness have left official speech bloodless. Our leaders have lost their own voices. They read out statements that sound inhuman and often mean almost nothing. Ritual phrases are repeated more like prayers than in an attempt to inform or start a conversation.

Ah yes, “start a conversation”. That phrase began life as a way of actually saying something, but now it sounds to me like just another of those “ritual phases” (typically now used to excuse the incoherence and/or non-existence of anything actually being said) that died the death several years ago. What Trump does with his brilliantly “authentic” tweets is start slanging matches from which he emerges the winner, as Sidwell himself well explains. (See in particular his stuff about Trump’s participation in the world of televised wrestling.)

As an editor, I used to pray for an official who could give good quote. And for the media, as much as many hated him, Trump’s unfiltered style was a godsend.

In other words:

… his public persona was authentic.

See also: Jacob Rees-Mogg, who I and quite a few other Brits now hope will be our next Prime Minister. This peculiar man resembles Trump in deviating, but in a very different direction, from the scripted-to-death style, in his case by being coherent and educated and patrician. When Rees-Mogg starts a sentence, he finishes it, and he does this in a manner which makes no attempt to hide the expensiveness and the well-connectedness of his education. Rees-Mogg is happily honest about his poshness in the same way that Trump is happily honest about being, as his son put it, a “blue-collar billionaire”.

Trouble is, see also: Jeremy Corbyn. Like Rees-Mogg, Corbyn also comes across as not-a-Blair-clone. He presents himself as exactly the sub-academic tyranny-worshipping junk Marxist that he is. I feel towards Corbyn the same amount of fear and detestation as Trump’s enemies feel towards Trump. This is because a terrifying proportion of Britain’s voters seem now to feel that, because Corbyn is unapologetically sincere in his desire to ruin my country, he is at least sincere, and therefore a good egg. But if what you say is wicked, then meaning it is not a virtue.

LATER, re Corbyn (my thanks to first commenter below Brian Swisher), the late and much missed Helen Samuely: “Well, at least he has principles”.

12 comments to Marc Sidwell on Trump’s appearance of authenticity (plus me on Rees-Mogg and Corbyn)

  • EdMJ


    Did you read his ‘manifesto’ in the Telegraph a couple of weeks back? (Reposting from a previous comment that I added after the conversation had apparently moved on).


    (Paywalled, but plain text version can be found here: https://www.reddit.com/r/ukpolitics/comments/6thmfa/i_dont_want_to_be_prime_minister_but_if_i_was/dlkpbzs/)

    I think there is a lot to like in it. Some choice quotes:

    “Unlike the Socialist, the Conservative believes that society is built from the bottom up, not the top down. Individuals come together to form families, communities and nations. The instruments of government are there to serve not to command. The random mass of individual decisions will better suit the comfort of the nation than the careful direction of resources from Whitehall.”

    “It follows from this view that the state is there to enable people to lead the lives they wish as far as possible without conflicting with their neighbours, rather than directing them along specific paths. Policy decisions flow from this and it is the moral basis for what the government does. It is interested in what people can do, rather than what they are unable to do…”

    “In terms of taxation, the view that individuals matter is a reminder that the money belongs to a specific person, and the state may only take what it needs. It is not the state’s money of which it benevolently allows the taxpayer to keep a portion. Generally people will spend their own money more effectively than the government and there is no money at all, except for that earned in the private sector.”

    “Conservatives should recognise that individual human ingenuity and business acumen will do better than central planning.”

    “Conservatives ought to back the free market, but that is not the same as big business. We must tackle monopolies. Big business loves regulation – and incidentally the European Union – because it keeps out competition, maintains high prices and reduces the power of the individual consumer.”

    “Each of us wants to improve our own standard of living and to see our children better off than we are. This is best done by freeing individuals to maximise their own successes through government that has confidence in their capacities, which trusts the people.”

    When was the last time you heard a British politician talk like that?!

    The Left think he’s authentic as well, and it horrifies them. What more of an endorsement can you get?

  • jamesg

    JRM as PM. Trump as POTUS.

    Would love to see it.

  • Mr Ecks

    June was a fuck you to Trasher May by folk conned by the weaponised leftist polls. Such that they thought could afford to make a well-deserved gesture to the arrogant, bungling bitch and still have the Tories win. Which they did after a fashion.

    Now loadsa folk are cowering at Corbyn’s supposed support among da yoof.

    I don’t buy it. The imported tide is being brought here under the claim’s of our “greying” society. It can’t be right both ways.

    I have yet to see a solid calculation of the Middle class Trot twat’s realistic likely support in an election where everyone knows the consequences of actually electing the scumbag. And knows that this time they can’t afford to waste their vote in weird-votes or protests about BluLabour’s antics.

  • Alisa

    It is such a pity that Mr Ecks keeps holding back, because I’m sure all of us here would like to know what he really thinks about Mrs May and Mr Corbyn… 😀

  • Snorri Godhi

    About the George Burns paraphrase: i have seen a very similar quote attributed to Groucho:

    The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.

    I can’t make up my mind which idea is funnier: faking honesty or faking sincerity.

  • Snorri Godhi

    PS: in the unlikely event that people have sorely missed my comments for the last few weeks, i can explain my absence cryptically with the help of another George Burns quote:

    Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.

  • Julie near Chicago

    And Snorri is two-for-two! LOLOL

  • mickc

    Corbyn does not pretend to be other than a Socialist.
    The Conservatives pretend to be conservative, but are socialist lite.
    If we are to have socialism, let’s have the real thing, followed by the inevitable problems rather than the long slow death we are having.
    Another Thatcher will arise to wake people up, but not from the present Tories.
    Incidentally, Thatcher was not a Conservative but a Radical… dumped when the going got tough.

  • I have yet to see a solid calculation of the Middle class Trot twat’s realistic likely support in an election where everyone knows the consequences of actually electing the scumbag. And knows that this time they can’t afford to waste their vote in weird-votes or protests about BluLabour’s antics.

    And bluelabour win by a landslide, and we get more slow death… Doesn’t matter which wrestler you support, McMahon gets the ticket money.

  • Paul Marks

    Good post Brian.

  • AWM

    I don’t know where Corbyn gets this reputation for being principled from.

    Consider his comments on Brexit: We all know that as an authentic Trot he’s completely anti the EU and so has been consistently been anti-EU over the years in word and deed. However, now, because the majority of his party is in the Remoaner camp and he knows he’d lose a lot of support if he stuck to his anti-EU position publicly, he’s suitably inscrutable and vague on it, just enough to let his voters believe he represents their views.

    Principled my…