Amateurs can read individual minds. Pros can read the minds of a country with 300-plus million inhabitants:
These supremely accomplished blowhards offend some but also arouse intense loyalty in others. Their followers enjoy the brassiness of it all. They live vicariously through their hero’s assertiveness. They delight in hearing those obnoxious things that others are only permitted to think.
Thus, there has always been a fan base for the abrasive rich man. There has always been a market for books by people like George Steinbrenner, Ross Perot, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Bobby Knight, Howard Stern and George Soros. There has always been a large clump of voters who believe that America could reverse its decline if only a straight-talking, obnoxious blowhard would take control.
This sophisticated analysis is David Brooks' attempt to explain why Donald Trump is riding high in early polls among Republicans. To Brooks, Trump represents nothing less than a "deep public fantasy: The hunger for the ultimate blowhard who can lead us through dark times." What does this even mean? Ah, but I'm too late. Brooks has moved on to holding up Trump as the "living, walking personification of the Gospel of Success." He goes on to praise Trump's ostentatious displays of wealth and materialism as a righteous rebellion against the American creeds of thrift and humbleness. Yet Trump is not above the little guy. As Brooks observes poetically, "Like many swashbuckler capitalists, he is essentially anti-elitist."
Summary: There are lots of Americans who fantasize about being a rich asshole. These folks see America in decline because we're just not bold winners anymore. Who better to lead us through the "dark times" than the biggest rich asshole this country has ever produced? Also, he's totally anti-elite.
Keep in mind, there's not an argument at play here. This is not a column about Donald Trump. This is a column about the inner fantasies of a New York Times columnist.