Dilbert creator Scott Adams, whose daily comic strip has been brilliantly skewering American office life and the worker-manager relationship for nearly three decades, is supporting Donald Trump for US president. And no, he’s apparently not joking.
The California-based cartoonist, who endorsed Hillary Clinton in June, explained his about-face in a Sept. 25 blog post that will feel both familiar and frustrating for anyone acquainted with the warped logic of Dilbert’s insensitive, oblivious, pointy-haired boss.
We’ve paired each of the main points from Adams’ blog post with a tweet from the Dilbert Twitter account to show how reality is imitating art. Just click on each tweet to read the comic in full.
The main reason Adams wants Trump: Estate taxes
Until Clinton came out with her estate-tax proposal, Adams felt he was “not smart enough to know who would be the best president.” After all, he notes, he could not say the best way to defeat the Islamic State or the right way to negotiate a trade deal.
But Adams does claim to know a thing or two about estate taxes, and when he saw what Clinton had to say about them—or what she didn’t, as Adams also accuses the Democrat of obfuscating the details of her plan on her website—his mind was made up. Under Clinton’s plan, “estate taxes would be higher for anyone with estates over $5 million(ish),” Adams writes.
“In my case, a dollar I earn today will be taxed at about 50% by various government entities, collectively. With Clinton’s plan, my remaining 50 cents will be taxed again at 50% when I die. So the government would take 75% of my earnings from now on.”
It’s precisely the type of complaint the boss might make, and expect some sympathy for, when speaking to the lanyard-wearing cubicle dwellers of Dilbert.
I’m not a doctor, but I play one in my blog post
Another concern driving Adams into the Trump camp: the Clintons’ health.
“To my untrained eyes and ears, Hillary Clinton doesn’t look sufficiently healthy – mentally or otherwise – to be leading the country. If you disagree, take a look at the now-famous “Why aren’t I 50 points ahead” video clip. Likewise, Bill Clinton seems to be in bad shape too, and Hillary wouldn’t be much use to the country if she is taking care of a dying husband on the side.”
Remember, Adams doesn’t know how to fight ISIL or design trade pacts and, until the emergence of Clinton’s estate-tax plan, he wasn’t smart enough to know which candidate would be a better president. Yet he feels qualified to be passing judgment on the medical wellness, or lack thereof, of the Clintons?
As for his assertion that Clinton would be sidelined by caregiving responsibilities if her spouse were sick while she was in office, Adams and anyone else could say the same of any other major-party candidate who’s ever run for president. Except they haven’t, because all the other major-party candidates daring to serve while married have been husbands, not wives—and husbands would not have been subjected to the same gendered insinuations that Adams has made here.
It’s just the sort of not-so-subtle sexism that the characters of Dilbert regularly hurl at Alice, the brilliant, hardworking female engineer who can barely muster equal standing to Wally, the lazy cubicle creature who keeps finding a way to be rewarded at the office despite his distinct lack of effort.
The rest of Adams’ argument for Trump is rooted mainly in two ideas about leadership.
Adams suggests that effective presidents are foremost persuaders-in-chief. An understanding of policy is less important than an ability to synthesize the recommendations of experts and then sell the public on those solutions, he writes.
“You can call that persuader a con man, a snake oil salesman, a carnival barker, or full of shit. It’s all persuasion. And Trump simply does it better than I have ever seen anyone do it.”
Usually that’s the kind of thing Adams seems to be poking fun of in Dilbert.
If Adams is troubled by Trump’s use of tactics one might more closely associate with a con man than a president, he doesn’t acknowledge it here.
Then there’s the management tactic Adams describes as “pacing and leading.” Trump, explains Adams, paces people. He takes extreme stances on issues and then, having “established himself as the biggest bad-ass on the topic, he is free to ‘lead,’ which we see him do by softening” his positions. And what if this brand of leadership corrodes discourse and destabilizes the populace by subjecting some to racist rants and inciting others to violence? Adams doesn’t address this. Rather, he praises Trump for the tactics:
“If you understand pacing and leading, you might see him as the safest candidate who has ever gotten this close to the presidency. That’s how I see him.”