Even in analyzing the first presidential debate, a political divide erupts between substance and style. Just as they much as they praised Barack Obama’s smooth delivery, the president’s detractors complain that Donald Trump’s manner is mean and nasty. Almost all of their complaints are subsumed in that rubric. They say it as if it’s a revelation, or at least compelling to anyone other than themselves, since they consider such a style to be beneath that office. It’s badgering, brusque, no-holds-barred, uncouth. Trump is publicly “unhinged,” “arrogant” and a “bully.” In a word…he dominates.
Meanwhile — or perhaps intentionally — they completely overlook the substance of the matter. Yet from any viewpoint — left, right, or middle — Trump has presided over the most conservative administration in our lifetime, which is why his proponents point to substance over style, results over retorts, success over smoothness. Love him or hate him, Trump says what he means, he does what he promises, and he takes no prisoners. Or to put it another way…he dominates. And as Lincoln said of Grant, his proponents say of Trump, “I can’t spare this man…he fights.”