That headline from an article in the 4/22/16 issue of the New York Times, and it’s exactly what keeps me awake at night. Trump is a master of the arena in this emerging era of media saturation. What if he successfully re-crafts himself – shifts into Presidential mode. What if people start to see him that way?
Countering Presidential Trump…
There is difference between spin and images and things that we sometimes see on TV and the real world. And in the real world, words have consequences. In the real world, the President sets the nation’s agenda and works with Congress to do the work of the American people. In the real world, the President can’t fire Congress. In the real world, telling a Senator or Representative that they’re a loser or stupid or their wife is ugly is not an effective way to shape policy. There is an objective reality and it matters.
…Show Huskster Trump…
Paint him lower than the guy who sells steak knifes on late night TV.
…Show how Trump deals with set backs/reality
He walks away – from Atlantic City, from people he does business with, from his wives. When things get tough, he walks. We can’t have a President who walks away when things don’t go his way.
The polls have her leading by 12 percent over Sanders, and while anything can happen, she should take the primary handily. And the general, she’ll take the Empire State too. New Yorkers both elected HRC and have taken her to heart. That she was their Senator is huge. And, in New York, there is a strong tradition of empowering women.
New York has been home to some very outspoken women. The state is a HRC stronghold. And telling the story of HRC as the Senator from New York has the potential to win voters over in the General big time.
On Trump and the Media…
$1.9 billion – that’s how much free publicity the 4th Estate has given Donald Trump – (h/t Nicholas Kristof “My Shared Shame“) and we’ve been wondering why no one can make him go away…He is a master showman in the emerging era of media saturation.
…And What’s Fueling Trump’s Rise?
The Pain of the Working and Middle Class Americans…
….and the Feeling that the System is Rigged (technical term: rent seeking).
In his Profiles in Paralysis, Ross Douthat writes of Trump’s legitimate populist critique.On the Democratic side of Election 2016 the left’s populist critique is expressed by Bernie Sanders. Long term, as leaders in the Democratic Party, how do we continue put the working class ahead of the donor class (h/t Reihan Salam, “Before the Kochs“)?
In this arena, a candidate who is persevered as part of the Old Order can incorporate the populist critique by 1) acknowledging that the critique is legit, 2) point out that it has taken a long time to get to this place, its going to take time to get to a better place, 3) and here’s how we’re going to do it by painting how she’ll govern as a reformer.
The less said about the current state of the GOP the better. His name, He Who Must Not Be Named, is on everybody’s lips. Personally, I’ve taken up not even uttering his name as part of my Lenten discipline. He has tapped into a deep vein of anger and frustration that runs like a fault line though this time and place.
My Wrestling Moment
About 20 years ago, in an effort to make peace with the teenage boy who lived next store, I asked him about the T shirt he was wearing. Austen 3:15 – what’s that about? I asked. It’s about Steve Austin, a wrestler, said Neighbor Boy – he once kept an opponent in a hold for 3 minutes, 15 seconds.Oh, I thought, picturing Greco-Roman wrestling, the kind of wrestling that John Irving writes about.
Then, looking at the T shirt again, I realized that this wasn’t about that. This was Stone Cold Steve Austin. This is about…
Professional Wrestling, aka…
Wrestlemania! Which is staged. Which means it’s theater…
Just like Reality TV
Where He Who Must Not Be Named is coming from.
Q: How Does One Go About Winning a Reality Show?
A: One Creates a Heroic Reality Character who then runs the script
He Who has outfoxed the entire field of GOP candidates because he’s playing reality show and they’re playing politics as usual. Heroic Reality Character (HRC) stands in dramatic contrast to, and ultimately defeats He Who, the loud mouth bully.
Five – count ’em – five current and former US Senators spoke yesterday morning at the Kennedy Institute of the US Senate’s Women in Leadership conference. Given that much of our political dialog is one step removed from shouting four letters words through a bull horn, listening these Congressional leaders was a refreshing reminder that pragmatic collaboration actually produces results. It was also a chilling reminder how high the stakes are.
Reality TV, said Blanche Lincoln, former Senator (D-AR) has given us reality show expectations. Decorum leads to respect. Now, the more outrageous you are, the more media attention you attack, observed Susan Collins (R-ME). We’re beginning to see people within the institution denigrate the institution.
Contrary to public perception, said Collins, last year on Capital Hill was actually quite productive with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act and a comprehensive agriculture bill.
After winning office, you need to govern said Barbara Mikulski, (D-MD). When HRC was first elected to the Senate, there was the fear that she’d be a diva; not only did she work hard, she worked across party lines.
People vote with their hearts, said Mazie Hirono (D-HI), for Democrats to win, we need our message to connect with people’s hearts. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said of Senator Mikulski that she has a tough mind and a good heart. A tough mind and a good heart might be the winning mantra this election cycle.
Thank you Emerge Massachusetts for providing me with a ticket. Emerge recruits and trains Democratic women to run for and win elected office. There are currently Emerge programs in sixteen states.
The GOP is a train wreck. No one can lay a glove on He Who Must Not Be Named. (Personally, I’ve taken up not even uttering his name as part of my Lenten discipline.) Not even the Pope can stop his juggernaut. He Who, is a master of this new era of social connectivity, has tapped into a deep vein of anger and frustration that runs like a fault line though this time and place. On the other side of the aisle, this populous vein is being mined by Bernie Sanders.
This populist angry is directed at the system. The system is rigged. The political, economic and social systems sub-systems, are controlled by an elite few, and their rampant rent seeking behavior is undermining the commonweal. These fortune few are not shy about financing their causes or shaping our civic space. Long term wage stagnation has, as one candidate has put it, hollowed out the economic lives of a majority of Americans. Our political system is awash in money. Our streets are awash in guns. Our manufacturing jobs have been shipped overseas, our climate is changing, our wages have been flat for years, and we’re worry about our kids’ schools and their future, and our parents’ old age, and it feels like the government of the people isn’t working for the people.
The positive expression of this populism is Bernie. The negative is You Know Who. If HRC can tap into this vein, and, listening to her spot-on Super Tuesday speech at the Miami rally, it appears that she intends to, she will prevail in November.
It appears that our man Mitt, formerly of Bain Capital and the corner office at the Massachusetts State House has decided to come on stage and add his name to the growing list of GOP good ole boys who have attempted to call out He Who Must Not Be Named. Governor Romney did some name calling – liar, phony, a fraud. Really rough stuff. He Who fired back, “Mitt’s a loser..” he begged me for support when he was running his lame-o campaign for the White House, so hahaha. And with that another party stalwart, is topped by He Who. And party leadership, they’re completely flummoxed, wondering where this guy came from (there are lot of theories about how He Who does it…my current favorite is nicely summarized in Judd LeGum’s post on wrestling, Roland Barthes and He Who) and how do we make him GO AWAY!
The sad simple truth is that all those pointed headed politicos aren’t listening to what He Who’s supporters are shouting at the top of their lungs. These folks don’t care about the Republican Party. They don’t care about the modern conservative movement or the legacy of Ronald Reagan. Behind all the noise and bluster He Who a man ( someone who’s ego is fueling his id), has message that resonates.Listen for the message – crack this code and his people will be come yours.
Morning After Impressions of Speeches Last Night in Florida
Rubio, swaying passionately before the cheering crowd, the first few minutes a rallying cry for …the conservative movement and warped himself in the image of Ronald Reagan. The tell came towards the end. “Many of you are struggling…” He said. You are struggling; should have been “we are struggling”. Looked like a rookie.
He Who Must Not be Named, …the optics…oh the optics! Stage lined with flags, drapes as backdrop and who do they pin to the backdrop, Chis Christie, looking like a trophy head mounted on the great hunter’s wall. HWMNBN, looking all presidential, calling on reporters, shooting his cuffs, giving thumbs up. Masterful.
HRC – Nailed it. Simply nailed it. Got message across loud and clear. Calm, together and exciting. Projected power and confidence. Positive tone refreshing. Only weak note, “love” – is there a better, less generic word to close the deal?