In case you missed it on PennLive.com over the weekend, here is Triad Partner Tony May's latest column on Donald Trump.
Donald Trump - the political monster we created
It's a plot line as old as Frankenstein.
The monster is always an accidental creation of man; an experiment gone astray; a genetic mutation or the result of over-exposure to radiation.
Meet Donald Trumpenstein.
He's come about as we Americans have translated news from information to entertainment.
We even have a name for it: infotainment. One of its expressions is so-called "reality TV." Staging to appear as if it were real life.
We've gotten so good at it that the average American is hard pressed to discern the difference between reality TV and real life.
Thus, Donald Trump can claim for two straight days with a straight face that Barack Obama created ISIS, Then on the third day, he says, "Aha! Silly media folks. I was being sarcastic." And then we break for commercial.
After the adventures of the Duggar family on TV, the tribulations of Honey Boo Boo and the Real Housewives of (fill in the blank) and Survivor, it's difficult to argue that politics is off-limits for the same treatment.
And it's not so hard to understand why Donald Trump seems real enough – but it's also easy to believe that the former reality TV personality (The Apprentice) appears to be unsure himself whether he is playing a role or is fully in touch with reality.
Is he lying or just re-editing the script? It can be different for voters (or, as Trump would put it, "many people") to tell. He speaks with such conviction, how could it be a lie?
And if he is also fooling himself, should he be forgiven?
What if he's lost touch with reality and believes that Donald Trump, the TV persona, is the real person?
Dare we vote for a video character? ("I'm not a president, but I play one on TV?" If so, why not vote for Jeb Bartlet from West Wing?)
We should have seen this coming from as far back as 1976 when the movie "Network" foreshadowed the coming of reality TV.
In the movie, Peter Finch's character is TV news personality Howard Beale who reaches notoriety by promising to commit suicide on his next weekly show. Ratings go through the roof and the disenchanted Beale goes on a rant shouting, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
Two decades later, we had reached the point that Jim Carrey could star in a movie called "The Truman Show" in which he was followed – unbeknownst to him – by cameras 24 hours a day.
Initially, Trump's character was as refreshing as Howard Beale and "Make America Great Again" resonated with Howard Beale's "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."
A student of consumer behavior who has made a fortune catering to American excess, Trump understood the inherent tendency of humans to believe that no matter how much they had, it was never enough.
He grasped instinctively that the American willingness to work hard would make it easy to persuade many that they weren't getting all that they deserved.
The Trump mantra – although never explicitly stated – is, "You work hard; you play by the rules; you deserve a life like mine and there are folks who are not like you that are eating your lunch."
Never mind that you have a roof over your head, air conditioning, two bathrooms and three bedrooms and food jammed into an 19 cubic foot refrigerator-freezer, two cars and a closet full of clothes and just spent $100 for a sports event or concert. You deserve more and (fill in the blank) is getting it instead with you paying for it.
The other major trait that Trump has mastered is something he has learned from television evangelists – prophetic speech.
Most reporters pull their hair out when Trump speaks in sentence fragments and sketchy generalizations.
"Many people are saying," Trump intones when he is about to impart a particularly questionable or polarizing tidbit. It's a "tell" or foreshadowing of a fabrication to come.
It's not, "I have concluded that" or "I believe," it's something he has heard.
It's conventional wisdom; if you've never heard it before or you doubt it, it's your shortcoming. Everyone else knows this but you, so don't question it.
Television preachers willfully cherry-pick quotes from the Bible and interpret them to suit their message; Trump fabricates factoids and attributes them to faceless sources. The outcome is the same: the promise of a secret formula or remedy for all that ails your soul.
The problem is that real life is not a movie. Ronald Reagan famously asked in one of the best political commercials ever made, "Is there a bear in the woods?
Yes, there is.
The Triadvocate is a publication of Triad Strategies, LLC, a bipartisan lobbying, public affairs, strategic communications, grassroots advocacy, issue management consulting firm located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh