“This is for all the veterans.”
Yesterday, Donald Trump shocked the conscience of the planet when he revealed Senator Lindsey Graham’s personal cell phone number during an open press conference.
Over the past few days, feuding between the two presidential hopefuls has boiled over, fueled by the outrage that ensued after Trump made a disparaging comment about Senator John McCain’s military service. It has been a field day for the media, and for activists on both sides of the issue:
Graham called Trump a jackass! Trump called Graham an idiot! AND RELEASED HIS CELL PHONE NUMBER!
It may have been a jerk move, but it resonated—nobody likes a bully, and many conservatives have been waiting for the moment when someone would take Graham to task over his attitude toward the base. Graham took the punch like a champ…
Probably getting a new phone. iPhone or Android?
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) July 21, 2015
…but took things one step further, and turned Trump’s prank on its head.
Welcome to Christmas for political junkies. Watch:
This was a brilliant move.
I say that not as a Trump-denier or Graham-apologist, but as someone who has spent more than a few election cycles watching candidates torch each other, only to see one or both accidentally self-immolate.
Trump defines himself via the kind of audacity that many conservatives crave; in recent days, however, that tactic has earned him criticism, even from voters who may agree with him on controversial issues like illegal immigration. Similarly, Graham has drawn the ire of conservatives who saw him as a bully well before he started calling people jackasses.
It was time for a tactical switch.
This video is funny, and melodramatic, and ridiculous on its face—but it also shows that sometimes, good humor (and a little mockery) can be a lot more effective than nasty rhetoric. Cheek doesn’t alienate. Neither does confidence (although it may serve to enrage his opponents.) By admitting that, yes, Trump did indeed pull one over on him, Graham has disarmed his most vocal opponent—and made that disarming not just public, but viral.
PSA: No flacks were harmed during the filming of this video:
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) July 22, 2015
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