Why Trump?

Forget the talk of the town and the never ending suspicions of Russian meddling in the US elections. Why Trump? Because Clinton, period.

The Financial Times recently (April 28th weekend edition) did a piece on Amy Chozick's book telling the story of Hillary Clinton's failed presidential campaign, written by Edward Luce, the FT's Washington columnist, a wry knowledgeable observer of US politics - one cannot but wonder what the late Alistair Cooke would have said on the matter during his weekly BBC comments, written beforehand straight on his old typewriter. But to revert to White House folklore.

As everyone knows, or should know, Trump wasn't elected thanks to the Russians. Trump was elected thanks to Ms Clinton. It wasn't Trump who won, it was Clinton who lost. Same thing more or less in France. It wasn't Macron who won, it was essentially the socialist incumbent who lost, and no wonder, for decades now the French Socialist Party is a laughable headless chicken. And it's rather the same story in Germany where the socialist pretender Martin Schulz, no less laughable, managed to look like the two-bit salesman no one would ever buy a used car from.

So, that's settled. In her book, Amy Chozick canvased the specifics. There aren't many people who are keen to dole out the 4,70 euros it takes to buy the FT week-end edition, so here's a summary.

For one, there's the Clinton personality, tight-lipped, absolutely no human warmth. Her mood, according to her own team, writes Chozick, was "rarely bright". Rather, mostly, "crabby with a chance of outburst." A velvet fist in an iron glove, say.

Then there's the sheer stupid arrogance. She was sure to win, relying on turn-out models that turned out to be just that, models with no connection with what really happens, as they usually are, models can be fine on the cat-walk, they're quite useless to tell right from wrong. One commentator, quoted by Chozick, said that "Hillary has built a large tankership and she's about to confront Somali pirates" - and, of course, "Nobody on Hillary's campaign saw the pirates coming". Not even Chozick, at the time. So it goes.

The Russians? Forget the Russians - unless, of course, they mischiveously managed to hypnotize the New York Times, home to Maurreen Dowd, its "most Clintonphobic columnist". This was bad. The paper's distinguished readership can hardly be equated with Trump's supposedly dumb blue-collar hicks. Rather, it's Ms Clinton's upper middle-class voters, or should have been.

Now, of course, Ms Clinton had a real problem there. As Chozick points out, her campaign "agonised over the linguistic challenge of what to call America's middle class". If you can't say who you're trying to befriend, the encounter will be brief indeed. And it only gets worse when you use the old "love ya all"-pitch in order to embrace the "everyday American" while promising with a "corporate catchphrase" to bring about, er, "Continuity with change". You could hear the laughter all the way to China. But Ms Clinton was devoid of humour. Every joke she did was so "heavily scripted by teams of aides" that it spiralled "to the point of high parody until even the simplest punch line felt as heavy as a loaf of bread kneaded to an inch of its life", Chozick writes. Obviously, Chozick is not very fond of Ms Clinton. So were quite a few voters.They didn't like Ms Clinton one bit. So Mr Trump won, by default.

By the way, on the subject of meddling in and tampering with chattering Internet flows, the next FT weekend edition (May 5th) carried an interesting paper by the usually interesting Gillian Tett on the subject of Facebook and Google. Again, forget the Russians. She starts with the fact that whereas Facebook collects masses of data on its users that are then sold to third-party corporate sharks, Google does just the same but... "hangs on to the data it collects, and then uses them to create targeted search-and-advertising offerings." The thing to remember here is, er, the meddling in and tampering with "targeted search" routines. In other words, what happens is that "the search engines can sway our minds in powerful and largely unnoticed ways". How so? Well, for one, via the "autocomplete function".

This was new to me. I had never heard of the noun "autocomplete" - apparently, it refers to the "widget" providing suggestions while you type something on your electronic device, PC, smartphone or whatever. Horrid little thing, makes you feel like a robot, but some people do like it, it makes for faster "texting" and, via "autocorrect" (sic), prevents misspellings. But, but, lo and behold! There's also such a thing as "negative autocomplete". Ms Tett gives Ms Clinton as an example taken from the August 2016 presidential campaign: "When the words 'Hillary Clinton' was typed into Google, autocomplete offered 'Hillary Clinton is winning' while Yahoo and Bing suggested 'Clinton is a liar' " Quote unquote.

Now you know. When searching with keywords on the Internet, "autocomplete" is the thing to shun. The Russians, sorry, I mean, Google, Yahoo, Bing and the like: they are the ones who are trolling your minds.