Is Trump charismatic?

President Trump embarks on his first foreign trip

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Donald Trump's charm offensive

By Diane Cooke

The dictionary definition of charismatic is: "Exercising a compelling charm which inspires devotion in others".

Is Donald Trump so charming he inspires devotion in others?

"Fat. Pig. Dog. Slob. Disgusting animal" - these are just some of the names that Trump has called women over the years. So it's probably fair to say that a certain section of the American female population would rate his charisma at zero, or 'nada' if you happen to be a Mexican woman, or indeed a Mexican of any gender. To Mexicans, Donald Trump is about as charming as dengue fever.

The President of the United States has been widely called out for his objectification of women - he has a tendency to criticise them for their looks - and sexist remarks.

From saying no one would vote for his former rival Carly Fiorina because of her face to suggesting that women should be "punished" for having abortions and "joking" that he'd date his daughter... you really couldn't make this stuff up.

There have also been a number of sexual assault claims made by women, dating as far back as the 1980s - all of which Trump has strongly denied.

However, according to Management Today, the recipe for Trump’s success with voters was the same one that brought him his billions in the business world. He typifies charismatic leadership, where force of personality is more important than collaboration or cold reasoning. Other examples of charismatic leaders include Martin Luther King, GE’s Jack Welch and, somewhat more ominously, Adolf Hitler.

One of Trump’s most common boasts is that he’s a great deal-maker. It’s true that it would be hard to flourish in the world of US commercial real estate without having a talent for negotiation. While Trump is by all accounts persuasive as most charismatic leaders are, he combines that with his aggression and audacity to particularly great effect.

A good example is when some of his businesses filed for bankruptcy in the early 90s. Rather than cave in to the banks who had lent the money, he held his nerve and avoided personal bankruptcy by convincing them to lend him even more money so he could later pay them back. "I figured it was the bank's problem, not mine. What the hell did I care? I actually told one bank, 'I told you you shouldn't have loaned me that money. I told you the goddamn deal was no good'."

According to Forbes, Ronald Reagan had charm. It was part of what so many loved about him, even if they couldn’t always precisely say why. Bill Clinton had charm—so much charm he could survive a cad’s scandals. Hillary has none. George W. Bush had a country boy’s charm that worked on some. But where is Donald Trump’s charm?

"Trump has certainly charmed a lot of New York’s journalists. You can see this in the eyes and hear it on the words of many FOX News hosts and contributors. He has even charmed The New York Times’ columnist Maureen Dowd—she mocks him still, but with the care one uses for an uncle who you disagree with deeply, but nevertheless love to be around," writes Frank Minitor.

"What a charming person has is self-confidence, so much self-confidence they don’t have to put themselves first. A charming person is so confident insults don’t seem to dent their aura; their humor and open-mindedness remain intact; they’ll keep treating a person with open respect and humor even if that person lobs insults at them. A truly charming person seems unflappable. Their gentlemanly conduct will embarrass a rude person by comparison.

"This, of course, is Trump’s shortfall. He can be charming, but he loses his charm too easily. He has grown up on New York City’s pugnacity. This is a strength, as it has helped him build things even in Manhattan and helped him through tough primary fights. But it is also a weakness, especially in politics. Trump has learned to fall back on ridicule instead of charm."

So it would seem that Trump can be charming until he gets on Twitter or someone annoys him. That's a five out of ten on the charisma scale.

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The Charismatic Appeal of Donald Trump

Long, long ago, in 1998, I wrote a graduate thesis on Charismatic Leadership and the role culture plays in the phenomenon. I won an award for that thesis, and it has been on my mind frequently as I have watched the rise of Donald Trump. At first I scoffed at the idea he could become a candidate, then I watched uneasily as he bullied and browbeat his Republican opponents into the dust. I was incredulous as he accepted the GOP nomination, and I still cannot believe that the Republicans allowed him to basically take over the party.

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