Back in December of 2015, Dan McLaughlin wrote an excellent piece in The Federalist on the then-upcoming Republican primary race. It offers quite the window into the political decision making of Donald J. Trump. In it he accurately outlines Trump as the candidate employing the Observe, Orient, Decide, and then Act principles (the OODA Loop) of famed American fighter pilot and strategist John Boyd.
Unfortunately for McLaughlin, at the time of that writing he, like many, rather spectacularly misunderstood who Donald Trump is in actual fact. His entire piece examines as real the strategically erratic character Trump has clearly created for social, business and media consumption purposes.
Donald Trump is nothing if not crazy like a fox—as unpredictable as Sun Tzu, and as fearsome like a boss.
Some have argued that President Trump’s recent State of the Union speech was designed primarily to troll Democrats. I disagree. The trolling effect (e.g., a steady stream of bad optics televised in prime time—and subsequently easily turned around into an RNC ad—showing Democrats behaving disrespectfully, rolling their eyes, shaking their heads, groaning, looking down at their cell phones, and even walking out in a huff) is real, but was a fully expected side-benefit of the address. No, the President is on something of a John Boyd “Destruction and Creation” mission.
Operating like a general giving the command for his massive political army to advance on the adversary, the State of the Union speech was the best political oration of my lifetime. I’ll try to quickly detail why by quoting a personal favorite, Richard Fernandez of the Belmont Club. In a piece he wrote in December 2016, just prior to Trump’s inauguration as our 45th President and in the context of Trump’s signaling with respect to what should be our posture with China, Fernandez wrote that:
The Democratic Party should stop underestimating Donald Trump. The good news is that he moves at nongovernment speed. The bad news is that, due to his outsider status, nobody knows exactly where he is going.
Fernandez, like McLaughlin the year before, was noting the uptempo speed of Trump. McLaughlin’s discussion of Trump’s use of the OODA Loop, correctly noted that speed lies at the core of Boyd’s theory of conflict, and has been the most influential element of Boyd’s strategic thinking. Further, “Boyd’s core insight was about the interactive and disruptive nature of speed on human decision-making: success in conflict can be rapid and dramatic if one can ‘operate inside the OODA Loop’ of the opponent.”
When you begin to understand this, you’re well on your way to understanding our 45th president.
Take another look at the dizzying array of tweets the President has expertly confused his opposition with, whether Republican, Democrat, foreign or domestic. In a world where manufactured perception often becomes subjective reality (look no further than what the Clinton/Obama cabal have done with the Trump-Russia nonsense), it pays to know your adversary. It pays to be able to state their case before they do, to be able to hit their highlights better than they do, and to be able to sum up their emotional preferences more exquisitely than they do.
This highlights a prominent example where Trump has strategically turned a loud criticism (he’s not really a Republican; he’s really a Democrat, etc.) into an incredible political advantage. Look no further than some of the points made in his State of the Union speech:
- He led with positive economic news and a rundown of companies investing in the United States or awarding their employees raises or bonuses;
- He noted declining minority unemployment numbers;
- He announced his $1.5 trillion infrastructure package;
- He spoke favorably of a paid family leave program;
- He reminded politicians and citizens alike that Americans are dreamers, too;
- He praised and contrasted a particularly patriotic kid with the weirdly bitching and moaning Black Lives Matter millionaires of the NFL;
- He highlighted the scourge that is the illegal immigrant gang, MS-13, while prominently acknowledging haunting, memorable, and heartbreaking trials and tribulations made extremely personal by a range of attendees who suffered great loss.
The emotional overlay expertly delivered in this fashion is usually the province of Democrats. It is clear proof for me that he’s ensconced himself inside the OODA Loop of Democrats and he has done so via utilization of Retail Politics 101—something conventional Republicans have seemingly, inexplicably, and to their lasting disservice never mastered.
A further problem for the political party of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson—a problem especially pronounced at the historically important but currently awkward Jefferson-Jackson fundraising events they’ve been so proud of hosting over the years—is their terminal self-loathing and America-hating revisionism that has alienated average Americans all across the land.
This is a gift to President Trump that keeps giving and giving and giving. A political party that has forgotten rule number one of American politics (never disrespect average Americans) deserves to die. But to kill off a prominent but staggering legacy, one needs either to be or to become an apex predator.
The so-called Orange Ogre is proving to be quite the apex predator.
In fact, Don Surber, was moved to write, “That was no State of the Union address tonight. That was the death of Democratic Party.”
A businessman with the social skillset of an apex predator occupying the most powerful position on Earth, suddenly turned loose on a political world that still can’t comprehend what the heck has hit them? That, my friends, is a Chief Executive of the United State like none before him.
Because of their slavish predictability, on glaring display during the State of the Union, just think what the Trump Administration will be able to do to Democrats with a robust infrastructure plan that leverages federal funding with creative incentives for partnership with state and local governments along with private enterprise. There will be serious grumbling about the infrastructure plan for sure (toll roads and other pay as you utilize them components will be featured prominently) but this is likely the kill shot for the historic Democrat Party and the political act that cements a governing Republican majority for decades. This sort of political genius has been lost on the clean toga crowd of establishment Grand Old Party thinkers and is, regrettably, on full display this week via David Harsanyi over at The Federalist.
The observe, orient, decide, then act strategic cycle arises from the quintessentially American spirit of playing to win that Donald Trump embodies and for which he has endured pathetic mockery from the so-called “conservative” NeverTrump crowd (winning, it seems, terrifies them). It is a competitive spirit that pays homage to our individual survival down through the ages as a species and to our collective prominence as a nation. Donald Trump not only understands this heritage, he intuitively comprehends it in ways Barack Obama never could. He knows this spirit provides the very foundation sustaining our strengths socially, politically, historically, culturally, commercially and militarily. Further, he does not dare apologize for them.
In a week where Elon Musk has parlayed a public-private partnership and truly thrilled many, the promise of America continues to shine brightly. Donald Trump as the OODA Loop President may (I repeat, may) be the first President to fully comprehend how all of the various component strengths we’ve been blessed with unapologetically work together to highlight what makes this nation so great, and so attractive to so many around the world.
Profound. Once again, our nation is blessed beyond comprehension.
I am not one who subscribes to the “Trump is playing 3D chess” theory where everything he does is part of a genius plan. But this article does a great job of outlining what he is doing. Just as Bill Clinton “triangulated” into co-opting republican positions to weaken the Republican party, so is Trump co-opting Dem positions to weaken the Democrat party. The difference is that Clinton’s positions were untenable in the long run because Democrats really didn’t agree with them–they mostly went along with a wink, wink, nod, nod. Most Republicans agree with Trump’s positions, even if they struggle with him personally.
I think the correct reading of the article isn’t “Trump has a genius plan” (although I would suggest that the true genius of the “plan” is identifying the three key issues which resonate with Americans and effectively communicating them: Security, Jobs, Immigration), but rather he is very capable of observing what is happening in the political environment, orienting himself and his team, deciding what to do then acting.
I think most people actually have an intuitive understanding of the OODA loop theory, but have difficulty putting it into action. Most people are hampered because they have limited fields of observation (don’t see the totality of what is going on), fail to orient properly (generally attempting to fit observations to pre conceived ideas or notions) and most importantly, failing to act. While we may have legitimate disagreements with how President Trump observes and orients, there can be little doubt he rapidly decides and then acts.
Nailed it beautifully! Excellent post.
It helps to understand the OODA loop if you think of a fighter pilot. The perfect action is not nearly as important as quick and decisive GOOD action that continually keeps the enemy off his game. The only strategic plan you need is WINNING.
That’s why you repeatedly see Trump saying “‘A’ is great” on Monday but “Gee I think ‘A’ might not work out” by Thursday. When he has a chance to grab victory — that is, a policy that he wants and believes important — he’ll do it, but he’s not going to say in advance just what that will be.
You’re right, Trump is not playing 3D chess. He’s way beyond playing merely that. He’s playing 4D chess, or maybe even 5D chess..
No, he is playing Poker.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Trump isn’t playing chess of any kind, he’s playing “fizzbin”. Look it up.
I Krakoed up when I saw that comment.
I was worried I might Oxmyx someone up.
Vic Tayback, we hardly knew ye… *sniffle*
I Tepo-toed around that…
BAHAHA. I wasn’t even a big Star Trek fan as a kid, but for some reason, back in the day, whenever I turned that show on, it was THAT episode. My Trekkie friends claimed this was an unrepresentative effort for Roddenberry, et al., but I thought it was entertaining.
Perhaps it was the Will Of… Landrieu:
Fizzbin, also from an episode of Star Trek.
So like the perplexed gangsters trying to keep up with Kirk, the dems know he is winning each hand, but haven’t yet figured what the rules of his game are, because Trump made them up himself as he goes along. Wait till the dems think they have him with a very rare triple fizzbin, only to then find out it is beaten by a double shaazbat.
There is no such thing as the “Democrat Party,” dittohead.
you are correct,, they should come out and declare who they really are
QWhy does the CPUSA support Democratic Party candidates for the presidency instead of running their own candidates?
AThe Communist Party does not endorse candidates from other parties, but we are deeply involved in mobilizing people to participate in the elections.
The presidential election is not just about candidates themselves. It is about choosing what direction the country will go in. So, we work with allies in the union movement, in immigrant rights and civil rights and environment and organizations of women, LGBTQ, youth, and retirees with the goal of stopping extremists like Trump and building enough “people power” to win better jobs, education, healthcare, equality and peace.
Trump’s agenda is threatening to working and poor people and our entire planet because it is based on hatred, racism, bigotry and looking out only for the .1%. But stopping Trump is not enough.
Big changes are needed to put people’s needs before profits in our country. We organize at the local level. We run in local elections, especially non-partisan. We have run presidential candidates in the past. When the labor and people’s organizations are strong enough to route the extremist corporate right wing, and when we have gained more strength at the local level, we may well decide to run national candidates again.
The real key is Trump is not playing chess, he is playing poker.
I hope this isn’t just wishful thinking.
I understand Trump perfectly: he’s a crude demagogue gifted with the ability to fool lots of people.
How was I fooled? I wanted ISIS’s caliphate destroyed, corporate tax rates lowered, and conservative judges put on the bench.
Wasn’t the first comment stupid enough?
Yes, it was mega-stupid that’s why I wondered what on earth could top it.
As compared to his predecessor, a slick demagogue gifted with the ability to fool lots of people.
1. The republican position is better than the democrat position in results.
2. The republicans are really scared of the democrat anti American propaganda arm but Trump shows them how to win that.
3. Trump is really a Very Stable Genius.
4. Trump played real hardball as a private sector businessman against donks and their henchmen in government for years.
5. Democrat politicians and repubs as well are going to get steam rolled.
Number 2. Regressives are incapable of learning. Sadly, most GOPe politicians seem to be equally incapable of learning. Or, as the author says, terrified of winning.
It’s why the RINO’s have to go by death or defeat. They’re as much an obstacle as the new-wave Chavez-feminista democrats.
Those GOP politicians did plenty of winning in 2010 and 2014, before Trump came along. The only exception to that was prez, where salesmanship and propaganda is just as important as actual results.
If by winning you mean getting elected, then yes. If you mean accomplishing anything once in office, I’m not sure what that would be.
Let me help you understand what accomplishing in office means. Just look at President Trump’s first 11 months in office, and then add to that the prior 3 months. He accomplished more in that year than all previous 44 presidents have ever accomplished in any one of their years in office. With only 2 exceptions: George Washington in formation of the US Republic. And Abraham Licoln in putting back together the Republic that was broken into 2 separate countries for 4 or 5 years during the first American Civil War.
Let me help you understand my point, which you ignore in your eagerness to look smart. I’m talking about the Republicans elected in 2010 and 2014, referred to above by richard40, to which my post responded. And most of the Republican establishment types in Congress, then, now and perhaps coming in in 2018. I agree with your assessment of Trump’s first year. But without him, with any other GOP president, a Republican congressional majority would have accomplished few, maybe none of thise things.
Thanks for your instruction, but maybe try to understand what you’re attempting to criticize before you do so. Or is that too much to ask?
You are aware that no congress can do much if the prez totally refuses to cooperate with them, and Obama was not about to cooperate with repubs on much of anything (unlike Bill, who actually was willing to cooperate with the Gengrich congress on at least some things). Then you youself admit the congress has done OK on working with Trump, yet you also claim that is nothing.
You’re not paying attention.
No, you’re not paying attention to what I said. Or to how little the Republicans elected in 2010 and 1014 did until Trump. I was responding to richard40’s claims about the 2010 and 2014 elections. Pay attention.
Not possible under Obama, since he would veto anythign good, and threaten a gov shutdown. They did what they needed to do, win enough seats to be ready if we ever elected a conservative prez.
During Trump they confirmed Trumps judges, his cabinet, much of his deregualtory agenda, his tax plan, and now his request for military spending and disaster spending. Is that your idea of nothing, in that case then I presume you also believe Trump accomplished nothing.
You presume wrong, which if you bothered to read what I said you would know.
Everything I listed as Trump accomlishments also required the repub congress, yet you deny saying Trump did nothing but claim the congress did nothing, logical inconsistency there. In order to avoid a clear contradiction in logic you must at least revise your previous statement, that the repub congres has never doen anything, to now say that the repub congress did nothing useful until they worked with Trump. But considering that Obama would not permit them to do anything useful before, that does not make a lot of sense either.
I was responding to you saying Republicans did plenty of winning in 2010 and 2014. Besides getting elected, exactly what did all that winning consist of? Caving to Democrats on budget deals? It’s a simple point. Don’t try to smoke screen it by talking about the past year. I’m not arguing about that.
most of the repuks are just dems in drag
The Left is a prisoner held captive by a bogeyman of their own making. I just hope that DJT can keep inside their OODA loop for the rest of this term and a second one — despite the hostile skies he’s flying in.
Love that Twitter handle: Fla A& M and UF!
Well said. But Trump is not simply “as unpredictable as Sun Tzu,” he’s an avowed fan of Sun Tzu. I have become convinced that he really is playing 6D chess, and that we’ll see proof of it some time before the November midterms.
No, he is playing poker.
Good but… We still have a $20,000,000,000,000 debt to worry about. A catch 22- as our economy finally begins to rebound in a robust fashion, interest rates are inching up and will consume a bigger and bigger part of the federal budget. Trump could be the one end up holding the bag. The proposed budget is not promising…
Add to this the complacency and weakness of the Dems, who got that way from relying on the press to publicly refine their bat shit crazy policy positions. Americans no longer have to get their news from liberal media gatekeepers, and Donald Trump would rather tweet is views than rely on biased White House reporters.
Trump doesn’t have to play 3D chess. The plain fact is that “our best and brightest” who oppose him don’t even have the mental capacity of an average rat.
Agreed. Trump plays the opposition, the “resistance” like a violin, as the saying goes. What Trump does is not complicated, but it is skillful and effective. He’s stymied the press because he’s reversed the news cycle relationship–Trump sets the story for the media rather than reacting to the media. He says, “jump,” they respond “how high?”
I remember early on when a friend of mine (a NYTimes editor) checking news updates on his phone one Saturday night said, “Oh, I think Trump’s stepped in it now,” certain that Trump’s downfall was imminent due to some misstep. So while the media is chasing down some insignificant story, like rats on a treadmill, Trump is attending to the real business of the day. I’d say, it’s the primary reason for Trump’s early morning Twitter posts–it’s cheese for the rats to get them started on the treadmill every day.
If the MSM just did some honest reporting, instead of always going into the world is ending mode anytime Trump ever says something, Trump would have a lot more trouble making them sing to his tune. But you are right, they really are that stupid.
Exactly. The MSM is too stupid, and/or too scared to realize that the only way they can possibly harm Trump is if they started to worship and adore him the way they sycophanted Obama. If they did that people would puke.
Trump moves faster because he doesn’t focus group several positions before deciding which one to go with. Doesn’t always say things he best way, but always a good way.
Trump may just loop himself out of his agenda if he signs some crazy 2 year budget. Secondly, you can’t understand Trump’s effect on politics until you understand the UniParty (dems + GOP + Freedumb Caucus) concept.
A lot of them will be gone long before the mid terms.
10,000+ sealed indictments ready to go and room for 13,000 at Gitmo. Combine that with the Democratic party has less than a half million dollars on hand, how many congresscritters are “retiring” and the fact that voter ID will be federal law by then* and you should start to get the picture.
*Don’t believe me? Hide and watch
Trump has been spending less money on everything so it costs nothing to give Demovrats the big $$$$$$ when people in place won’t be spendthrifting.
535 of them against 1 Trump? They better get more men…
AJ, do you know why they call marijuana dope?
(exactly. you wouldn’t know.)
I think all of this is a moot point if the stock market keeps doing its thing. And I think the stock market is going to do its thing because the buying and selling is now done through algorithms and not humans. And the left controls the algorithms. And they’re certainly not above decimating the finances of the average American to make a point. In fact decimating the finances of the average American has been the left’s goal all along.
This is classic making money when the market goes up and then again when it goes down – called selling short. Not for us in the great unwashed. It’s used by Soros, et al. to keep the wheels of the machinery being used to destroy us.
Kind of my point. Thanks for making it for me. It has gotten a lot easier for them now that it’s automated.
A brilliant piece! Thank you, sir!
The opposite of OODA is knee-jerk lefty reaction designed to keep the narrative moving forward.
Can the Trump methodology control inflation?
I think that more than President Trump not daring to apologize for American greatness, it doesn’t occur to him to do so. President Obama was elected and reelected in spite of his tepidness toward American exceptionalism, not because of it.
Great article. I would like to see a more expanded exploration of this.
Preach it, Brother!
Excellent article. You get it.
Shame on me though. I was slightly nonplussed when I saw your picture. The indoctrination dies hard.
Thank you. You’ve put your finger on some points I’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) to articulate for two years.
Beautiful, masterful, intellectual, brilliant article. This explains a helluva a lot about Trump, the Democrats, the Republicans, Congress, the Courts, the Newmedia, Social media, television cable news, television talk shows (like the view, etc.) radio talk shows (but not Rush Limbaugh). Couple your article with readings on “John Boyd” the one who first documented and explained the o.o.d.a. loop. And the reader really has something. I have just made a leap ahead of about 1 light-year, in understanding the human race.
Trump is not “playing” fizzbin, or poker, or chess. Trump is winning and excelling at LIFE. He always has. Donald John Trump is one of the most extraordinary human beings to ever have graced the surface of the earth, in all of know history. The man has excelled at everything. He has said on the campaign trail, that his personal wealth and world influence ranks him as the “20th nation in the world”. And now “he is POTUS”. Simply incredible. The Newsmedia that hates him so much, just can’t stop thinking about him for one second, and publishing him continuously. Trump’s mastery of the O.O.D.A. Loop is OodaLoop^2 (ooda loop squared). Or OodaLoop^3. He is way beyond our simple capabilities of the average achiever can even begin to comprehend. We will always be chasing after Trump. We will always be looking up at him – not down on him – as the media would have you believe, but even they are forced to look “up” or shut up. And history will always remember Trump.
I love the picture of 3 Trumps in leather jackets and sunglasses!
“Bot-News” I have a request: Will you explore the possibility of “Bot News.” Its a variation on “Fake News”. Whereas fake news is Trump’s masterful 2-word way of explaining that the Newsmedia is full of lies, hate, and non-stop drumbeat to destroy him and the USA. Bot-news is the way that programmers use mass distribution (a form of internet junk mail) to flood social media, news feeds, Yahoo comments, etc. with made up stories, lies, opions, stylized photoshopped pictures, etc. to control the mental psychy of the masses of readers. And Bot-news / fake news / lies apply equally to disparaging Donald Trump as it does to making up a fake image of Obama as smart, a leader, honest, caring, Christian, American. (When everyone knows by being around Obama or observing the true him, that he says daily morming muslim prayers in the Mosque he had converted from a Christian Cathedral, he hates America, he hates white people, he lies whenever he speaks, he leads from behind/follows, he stutters like a mad-hatter, and he is dumber than a rock).
Great article! Thank, JB! Bingo!
Trump’s business acumen, applied to the Democrats, ‘know thy customer’ better than the customer knows his/herself. His optics are brilliant. Anyone who works in corporate business and is successful should really be enjoying this presidency and the application of strategic consumer marketing principles to governance. :)
Hey, JB, I was thrilled to hear Rush Limbaugh reading this column last week!
Finally caught up, RG ???? Great read and Rush-aired, to boot ! More, please !!