“Never lose your temper except on purpose” was a firm maxim of Dwight Eisenhower’s.  Donald Trump seems generally to observe the same rule, though certainly not always.

His critics failed to understand this during the primaries in 2016, and they have continued to do so since.  Gleefully, they report daily—almost hourly—on the President’s latest “belittling,” “bullying,” “offensive,” “insulting,” “outrageous,” “inappropriate,” “unprecedented,” or simply undiplomatic statement or remark directed at one public figure or another, at home or abroad, confident that this time it will cause Trump’s supporters, admirers, and apologists to see the light.  They never do, though.  Instead, they are approving, appreciative—and encouraging.  The reason why should be obvious to anyone who knows something about human nature: They’d like to tell the same people the same things to their faces.  Donald Trump is their portavoce.

It’s ironic, though humanly understandable, that Trump’s wholly unconventional and aggressive public demeanor should so offend the left whose predecessors of half a century ago invented a new political style deliberately intended to shock, disgust, and otherwise épater bourgeois sensibilities by its crude behavior and scatological language borrowed directly from the ghetto, its outrageous and indecent dress, its regular acts of physical obstructionism and violence, all meant to demonstrate the “authenticity” of the actors in their street and platform theatrics.  The point was to oppose mendacity with brutal honesty, falsity with fresh reality, hypocrisy with frankness, and self-importance with self-awareness to unmask a nakedly oppressive “system” by stripping it of its imperial robes.  The “new politics” of the New Left might have gone further than it did (it went plenty far as it was), if the basic nihilism, unconvincingly disguised as idealism, that inspired it had not been so obvious.  The same desire to expose and mock an equally corrupt “system” (now largely owned and operated by old New Leftists in suits and pantsuits) is behind Trump’s own, more civilized and restrained style, similarly calculated to expose advanced liberalism and the new New Class that personifies it.

The left objects to the confrontational style when it is adopted by the right as another disgusting expression of lumpen populism.  This raises the question mulled recently by Charles Moore (formerly editor of the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph, and The Spectator, and now Lady Thatcher’s official biographer) in his weekly Spectator’s Notes of how someone like himself can sympathize with the aims and actions of the European “populists.”  Mr. Moore is an Old Etonian, an elegant and polished gentleman of the old school—“posh,” as the English say—who rides to hounds and is a member of the hunt in his local village in Sussex, so the issue is certainly an interesting one.  My guess is that Moore, an honest and a morally discriminating man, recognizes the dishonest and hypocritical nature of the illiberal faux elite that stands today in the place of the old aristocracy, just as the “populist” parties confronting the new men do.  The veteran and venerable English journalist Sir Peregrine Worsthorne, in an excellent book of some dozen years ago (Democracy Needs Aristocracy), explains that his purpose in writing it was 

to break out of the conspiracy of forgetfulness by reminding people that in living memory Britain once had an upper class—from which most of the politicians were drawn—which was the envy of the world.  For as a result of this method of selection, Britain’s political class had inherited enough built-in authority—honed over three centuries—and enough ancestral wisdom—acquired over the same period—to dare to defy both the arrogance of intellectuals from above and the emotions of the masses from below; to dare to resist the entrepreneurial imperative; to dare to try to raise the level of public conversation; to dare to put the public interest before private interests; and to dare to try to shape the nation’s will and curb its appetites.  To such a political class conserving the patrimony came naturally, as did the habit of using money to transcend money.  Then, most precious of all, because its future did not depend on winning votes, Britain’s political class could do for demos what courtiers could never do for princes: be a true friend rather than a false flatterer.

In genuinely civilized countries even ordinary people (“the masses”) have a natural sophistication that allows them to distinguish instinctively between a real upper class and an imposter one, a quality they seem to have carried over into our barbaric post-civilization.  Donald Trump is not an aristocrat; he is a plutocrat, but he does recognize the dominant elite for the arrogant overbearing sham that it is, and he is loud in disrespecting it, colorfully and effectively, in public as Nigel Farage in Great Britain does, and eager to obstruct its illiberal agenda.  That is more than enough for his supporters.

From the early days of his administration the left has accused the President of admiring “strongmen” like Putin, Orbàn, Xi, and now Kim, and of envying them their unchecked authority.  Assuming that Trump does really “admire” these people, it is probably not for the unrestrained power they hold but because they, for all their faults and crimes, are real people who don’t pretend to be anything other than dictators and authoritarians and are unapologetic about it.  What he does share with these men is his almost total command of an audience—supporters and critics alike—who listen when he speaks.  (Unlike Xi and Kim, the “authoritarian” American head of state has yet to throw his opponents into jail or banish them to forced labor camps.)  Whether on television, attending official ceremonies, or appearing at political rallies, Trump speaks directly to you, whether “you” is an audience of tens of millions, hundreds of thousands, or of one—something Jeb Bush, to take an especially pathetic example, has never been able to do, and never will.  But Donald Trump is a force of nature who compels attention, like a cyclone.

This, added to the President’s accomplishments in office so far, explains how he is transforming the GOP into the POT.  That was always the purpose of his candidacy as his supporters saw it, and now it is happening, as the early primary results in June indicated.  Trump is inspiring imitators who take his presidential campaign for their model, though some of them—Don Blankenship, who ran for the Senate in West Virginia, for example, and Corey Stewart, seeking the governorship in Virginia—have overplayed the role.  Trump’s rough, unpolished, impetuous, almost wholly spontaneous rhetorical style, joined with the vigor and boldness of his actions, are as effective as they are widely deplored, and American politicians are not the only ones who have taken notice.  Boris Johnson, the erstwhile British foreign secretary, suggested recently to a group of Tory donors that Brexit might be proceeding faster and more efficiently were Donald Trump in charge of executing the process, and Italy’s new populist government, headed by Matteo Salvini of La Lega and Luigi Di Maio of the Movimento 5 Stelle, consciously understands itself as Italy’s response to Trump.  President Macron, though he expresses disagreement with the American President in instances where he perceives threats to the interests of France and the European Union, obviously admires Trump’s self-confidence and his unconventional style, which Macron—outspoken himself in criticizing his country’s sclerotic economy and unapologetic in his attempts to reform the French unions and the French welfare system, while standing athwart the Chamber of Deputies like the Bonaparte to whom he is frequently compared—shares.  The European heads of state who most dislike Trump are Theresa May, who is simply at a loss how to deal with him, and Angela Merkel, a far more resolute and intelligent woman who recognizes strength when she sees it and considers the President one of the gravest threats facing her chancellorship and her beloved E.U.  The Polish government, Viktor Orbàn in Hungary, and Sebastian Kurz in Austria have both been inspired by the American President.  Across the Atlantic Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau—the perfect model of the modern metrosexual male—dislikes Trump personally and ideologically, but lacks imagination to fathom the man and his political success.  As for the “strongmen,” Putin, Kim, and Xi recognize him as a forthright adversary with whom they can do business.  Or not.

Donald Trump is reaping the benefits of his remarkable ability to be simultaneously theatrical and real.  It is a winning combination, which explains why he is mostly winning at home and abroad.  And where he is not winning yet he has the party he represents, without owning it, to blame.  A portion of that party, anyway: the “moderate Republicans” who have been siding with the Democrats in the House against the President as he tries to honor the broadest and thickest plank in the platform he was elected to govern on.  These establishment Republicans, as legislative obstructionists of Trump’s agenda, had better watch their step; they may have made a beginning, perhaps, by joining with their conservative colleagues to defeat the second of two immigration “reform” bills last month.  (Mixed signals from the White House conveying the President’s position seem to have been read correctly by the more than half of Republican members who recognized what Trump—and their constituents—really wanted.)  Even before Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the president-elect of Mexico as of July 1, called immigration to the United States a “human right” for all North Americans and promised that “soon, very soon—after the victory of our movement—we will defend [the right of] all the migrants in the American continent and all the migrants in the world [to] leave their towns and find a life in the United States”; and also before the national pollsters could register the public’s response to the latest assault on the border, 90 percent of all Republicans supported Donald Trump.  One may assume, then, that the moderates are unsupported by nine tenths of their own party membership, and by the Republican candidates who have won their primary elections this year by standing with the President.

Style as well as substance have served Donald Trump brilliantly this year, while whipping the Democrats into deranged fury and causing them to overplay their hand in attacking him.  Even the most emotionally inflamed among The Democracy should be able to imagine how powerfully and persuasively memories of their refusal to take notice of Señor Obrador’s ludicrous promise to La Raza, Rep. Maxine Waters’s remarkable incitement of her followers to mob violence, and similar episodes will resonate in the minds of American voters in November.