As the late Republican strategist Lee Atwater observed, perception is reality. Not always, of course, but often enough to make it worth remembering.
I’m sure Donald Trump remembers it.
His modus operandi seems to be based on that belief. He doesn’t seem to care about facts or the truth. He focuses only on the next news cycle.
That’s how he scored one of history’s greatest political upsets. And, apparently, that’s how he will govern.
Take the Carrier saga, for example.
Scanning the headlines and glancing at the TV news, you might conclude that President-elect Trump forcefully stepped in and stopped Carrier from moving 1,400 air conditioning factory jobs to Mexico. You might be left with the impression that he did it by warning the company he would impose a 30 percent tax on their air conditioners when they enter the US.
After all, that’s what he said he was gong to do.
But what Trump – at least the Trump team – did was bribe Carrier to keep about 1,000 jobs in America. His vice president, Mike Pence, who happens still to be governor of Indiana, is giving Carrier a multimillion-dollar tax incentive to keep their Indianapolis plant open.
No word of threatened tariffs. No evidence that Trump/Pence even threatened Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies, with the loss of the cushy government contracts they enjoy.
And Carrier’s parent company is sill moving jobs from Indiana to Mexico. And not just from Indianapolis. United Technologies plans to close its Huntington plant, which has about 700 employees, despite the bribe from Pence.
The Carrier episode is just another sorry sellout to Big Business, the kind of thing Republicans have been doing for decades. But that’s not the way tough-talking Trump is spinning it.
In Trump’s alternate reality, he is the hands-on champion of America’s workers, ready and able to protect them from those job stealing corporations.
And you can bet his faithful followers will be only too willing to accept his version of reality. Again.