Updated at 9:40 a.m. Aug. 13, 2016
Donald Trump suffers from stage fright, which causes verbal gaffes that critics and the media can misconstrue — such as his recent comments on “Second Amendment people.”
That’s the belief of Sean Colgan of Oceanside, a fierce supporter of the GOP nominee.
“He’s inarticulate. He mentions a subject, goes to another, then goes back to the first subject,” Colgan said Thursday. “Then [he] repeats the process.”
Colgan, who boasts a Trump sign on his motorcycle, also suggests Trump read “The Art of War,” the Chinese military treatise dating back 2,500 years.
He calls it an excellent primer on how to organize one’s thinking on how to win any contest, “and Mr. Trump could use just a touch more ‘organization’ in his campaign.”
Trump’s comments Tuesday at a North Carolina rally were taken by some to be a veiled assassination threat against Hillary Clinton. Colgan says the New York businessman’s words, when understood in context, are quite clear.
“But when the listener is looking to misquote or misconstrue what is said, the lack of coherence plays against Mr. Trump,” Colgan said.
“This is something he needs to work on. Clearly,” Colgan told Times of San Diego.
Colgan responded to questions via email:
Times of San Diego: How did you take Trump’s “Second Amendment people” comments? Did you see any implied threat?
Sean Colgan: I took the trouble to listen to the ENTIRE speech. Something that the commentators seemingly didn’t do. Context always matters. And the one thing that no one seems to have taken into context is that the NRA is primarily a *political* organization.
I became a Life Member because it is a political organization. Mr. Trump’s comments about the NRA were spread over the entire 48-minute speech (as were his comments on just about every subject he spoke on). With that context in mind, no impartial listener could come to the conclusion that Mr. Trump was making any kind of threat. He was simply urging the “NRA people” (and there a lot of them in North Carolina) to get out and work to stop Hillary.
Also, my “Psych 101” conclusion is that Mr. Trump suffers from a kind of stage fright. He’s obviously capable of making a coherent plan of action. He wouldn’t be as successful as he is unless he were so capable. Yet when he stands in front of thousands of people, he rambles. He’s inarticulate. He mentions a subject, goes to another, then goes back to the first subject. Then repeats the process.
When that context is taken into account, which takes a little bit of work on the part of the listener, what he’s getting at is quite clear. But when the listener is looking to misquote or misconstrue what is said, the lack of coherence plays against Mr Trump. This is something he needs to work on. Clearly.
Do you still ride with your Trump sign?
I still have that sign on the back of my bike. And I still get waved at MUCH more often than I get “flipped off.”
Are you concerned about his declining poll numbers, especially in swing states?
Poll numbers ebb and flow like the tide. They shouldn’t be totally ignored, I guess, but what happens on 8 November is the only poll that matters.
Are you concerned about any down-ballot implications — such as loss of House or Senate or both?
Still not worried about the GOP losing the House or the Senate. The overwhelming numbers of people attending Mr. Trump’s rallies shows that support for what he offers is strong enough to make his “coattails” an easy ride (but only for those willing to take that ride).
As for Mr. [Ray] Ellis, because I live in North County, I haven’t been paying attention to the San Diego City Council races. But he clearly wasn’t paying attention to the MASSIVE turnouts at Mr. Trump’s rallies. Just a guess on my part, but I think he realized that he wasn’t going to win anyway, and decided to kiss the butts of those who are going to be in power. Because *power* is what politicians seek above all else.
Something that I don’t believe applies to Mr. Trump, because he isn’t a politician.
Do you think Rep. Darrell Issa is vulnerable to defeat in his district?
I’ve seen nothing that leads me to believe that Mr. Issa is in any danger. But I confess that my confidence in his re-election, and my focus on Mr. Trump, has made me so complacent that I haven’t paid a whole lot of attention to the House race.
Is Trump campaigning as he should — seeking to reach “voters in the middle”?
I think that Mr. Trump is trying to reach any and all who want a better country. But he’s got to work on achieving greater coherence.
What is your advice to the Trump campaign?
I think that Mr Trump should buy a copy of “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu (I prefer the Samuel B. Griffith translation). “The Art of War” is an excellent primer on how to organize one’s thinking on how to win any contest, and Mr. Trump could use just a touch more “organization” in his campaign.
Some “hills” simply shouldn’t be taken. The ones that should be taken need to be taken intelligently. Mr. Trump has a genuine desire to make this country great again. His plan for doing so is sound. He has his “base” locked in.
But he needs more than just his “base” to get into the Oval. He has proven that he can take advice from experts in a field he isn’t an expert in. Electioneering is such a field. Winning the “hill” of the “voters in the middle” is going to take a less brash, more articulate approach.
Working on greater coherence in his speeches is also called for. Not just to present his goals more clearly, but to prevent misquotes from the Hillary camp. Because contests aren’t won with just a good offense. A good defense matters also. ‘The Art of War’ can lead him to bettering both.
Do you agree with Trump that Obama was founder of ISIS?
Geez, does no one recognize sarcasm when they hear it? Of course, Mr. Trump didn’t mean that literally. But by completely mischaracterizing ISIS as a “JV” threat, Obama did not focus the proper amount of effort on them. It’s like cancer; ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away. It only makes it worse. If Obama HAD listened to the experts, and thereby directed a “cure” (to continue the analogy) at ISIS early, they would have not be committing genocide right now.
How do you deal with friends or family members who oppose Trump?
When I’m in favor of a person or a cause, I tend to go “all-in.” This is clearly the case with Mr. Trump. I mean, who else puts a massive sign on the back of his motorcycle in support of any candidate? My family and friends are used to me doing things like this, and so tend to just leave me alone when I get this way.
It helps that even those who are for Hillary aren’t all that strong for her. It mostly boils down to them being anti-Trump. And that mostly a result of his abrasiveness. Which he can fix.
Any thoughts on other recent Trump remarks, such as the Khan exchanges?
The dustup with Mr. and Mrs. Khan is a good example of why Mr. Trump needs a better approach. Even though it looks as if he’s right in everything he said about Mr. Khan, attacking Gold Star parents just ain’t good. If that “hill” needed to be taken at all (which I doubt), he should have chosen a MUCH better way of doing so.