Forget about policy.
Forget about the debate on whether or not he’s a narcissist or an egotist or both–a misguided missile with delusional certainty or a potential and dangerous strongman who will clean up the mess and make America great again.
Let’s talk about his public speaking.
1. No script. He speaks from the heart. Sure, he’s weak on structure and flow, but I often have to lift my jaw off the floor after being entranced by some of his riffs. Actually, he draws notes from his breast pocket but barely looks at them. I suspect the notes are lists of topics.
2. Conversational. He sounds like he’s in a bull session with a bottle of beer in his hand. He’s informal, shoots from the hip. No polished text to stand between the full force of the man and the rapt crowd eager for his next salvo.
3. Stories. He goes on forever about his exploits, how he outsmarted this one and got rich off that one. ESPN dropped him–canceled an event at one of his hotels. Big deal. He kept their deposit and got another company to book the room. He didn’t lose, he won. Macy’s dropped him and thousands of people tore up their Macy’s cards. He’s not the hunted. He’s the hunter.
4. He’s peculiarly himself. You can hear him inhale like an asthmatic walrus. He does comedic facial expressions–holding his arms out, jutting his head forward, and gaping his mouth as if he can’t believe how stupid everyone is. He is outraged by the infinite foolishness of the world around him.
5. Passion. He’s a Vesuvius of passion. He erupts with it. He’s the Arouser-in-Chief of Emotion. America is great. The crowd is great. No one will mess with America again. And then, the stupidity of others flashes through his mind. He’s off on a red-hot trail to ding the scripted Hillary, to taunt the mealy Jeb.
6. Attention. He gets it and holds it. He surprises us constantly. No boring march through slides or text. We wait, delighted, for the next brash shoe to drop. He brings private speech to a public forum–his speeches are like rap in the opera house of rhetoric. It’s not only attention-getting: It’s shocking.
7. Confidence. Again, he walks on stage like he owns the joint. He talks directly to the crowd. He crows that his crowds are bigger. There’s no sign that he’s reading anything–he’s literally out there in front of the entire human race winging it. He’s got that much confidence. He tells us how smart he is. He went to Wharton, the West Point of capitalism. His family is smart: His uncle taught at MIT. The shadow of self-doubt never falls upon him. Hey, a president must be firm in his convictions.
8. Presence. He radiates presence. He is present in his words. He says them with his mind, his heart, and his body. He is highly expressive. He is in the moment. Ideas come to him, and he gets them out. He deals with hecklers, and he responds to those who cheer him on. Nothing cerebral, sedate, or statesmanlike. He’s visceral. He is alive and responsive to the crowd. His speech is not a monologue. It is a dialogue between him and his followers, a call-and-response between the frustration that his listeners feel and his ability to vent it for them.
9. Connection. He preaches to the choir. He wears baseball hats, around the world the sign of a red-blooded American. He’s got applause lines, punchlines, bottom lines, and lines in the sand at the Mexican border. He’s the unpolitical politician who pours his naked truth into the yearning ears of his followers. He is fresh, appealing, outrageous, and real.
10. Unplugged. You know how our fruit and vegetables are tasting pretty bland these days? You know how most of the music on the radio sounds the same? You know how simple and refreshing it is to hear something unplugged and unscripted? The Donald is bigger than life because he’s unplugged, raw, and new. He’s stripping it down to everyday words, big ideas, and simple solutions.
His content offends some people, but others are drawn to him because he speaks plainly. He pulls no punches. His style is outrageous because he is outraged. He leads with his emotions, and backs them up with his some-would-say dubious reasoning. There are other politicians in both parties who are good speakers, but their content is predictable and their delivery does not draw attention to their content the way his does.
We all know a good communicator when we hear one and see one. The Donald isn’t perfect–no speaker or leader is–but the song he’s singing is moving and simple–“Out with the old, in with the new, run the rascals out of office”–and right now he and his song are No. 1 on the hit parade.