Thursday, July 21, 2016

Should Voters Be Afraid of Trump Incompetence?

The Trump Team - (top) Donald ,
(from left to right) Paul Manafort,
 Melania, and Michael Glassner
In the grand scheme of things, people do not have a reason to get bent out of shape over the the Melania Trump plagiarism scandal.  It was a lovely speech and many people share the same sentiments that she shared from the podium. Whether she plagiarized part of her speech from Michelle Obama or not isn't the red flag. No, it emerged in observing how Trump and the campaign handled the scandal.

It didn't have to be as complicated as they made it out to be. They should have issued a simple statement and moved on. Something like: "Melania gave that speech in earnest and her heart was behind every word. We apologize for any similarity or appearance of it resembling other speeches that may or may not have had some influence in her remarks." That kind of response would have shown some competence in handling obstacles that may surface in a campaign, but more importantly, those that arise in an administration.

What was the response from the campaign?  First it was denial. All of us who saw the obvious reproduction were dubbed crazy. Two days later, which is two days too long, ANOTHER statement was released.  This time, it is from a family friend and staff aid, Meredith McIver, who took the blame.  In a TMI passage from the statement, she admits that Melania borrowed some sentiments from people she admired - one of those being Michelle Obama. McIver even offered to resign over it, but the Trumps nixed that idea.

At that point, the campaign made a fifteen minute story that could have been vanquished immediately into a three day story that now includes how Melania is inspired by current first lady and enemy of the party (just ask them), Michelle Obama.  That would still be the driving story of the convention if it weren't for Ted Cruz.

Cruz, who doesn't want to help Trump at all, did so much more. He flaunted a non-endorsement in a prime time speech, drew ire from the delegates, and unified the Republican party all in his attempt to put Trump in his place.  In other words, Trump's enemies do a better job of managing his campaign than he does - which brings us to the REAL story here, the potential disaster of a Trump administration.

The thought of a Donald Trump presidency becomes more alarming each day. If he can't handle the single-goal concept of a campaign, how will he fare in a multi-fronted responsibility of running the United States?  With domestic social policies, foreign affairs, the economy, etc., the presidency is one job that shouldn't have the "flying by the seat of your pants" approach.

Despite his success in the primaries, he looks like he hasn't used any of this campaign journey as a learning experience. Even though he was able to bluster and bully his way to a nomination, support from a fraction of the conservative minded is not going to pave a smooth road to the White House.

Trump has seemed to have taken his methodology from Kramer of Seinfeld fame. His life and subsequent campaign seems to be from a fantasy camp. Up till this point, he does what he wants and falls ass-backwards into success. However, that only works in the primary if you are a targeting only conservatives. In a world where Limbaugh and Fox News has shaped his audience, he can play to them in any obtrusive way he wants. They will applaud his defiance of political correctness and simplified solutions.

However, in the general election, he has to draw from a new audience. They are more complicated and discriminating than the primary crowd that readily gobbles up defecated propaganda that the Conservative Entertainment Complex produces. Trump seems to flirt with a pivot towards a general election message, but so far he has proven to be like the weak dieter who holds out as long as he can, but damn it, he is going to eat that piece of cake. He returns to his boorish ways to the cheers of his base, but also to the gagging sounds of those he now needs to win over.

Instead of Kramer, Trump should borrow from another Seinfeld character, George Costanza. George learned that his every inclination has been wrong so he endeavored to do the opposite of his urges. As Jerry told him, "If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right." It worked for George. It could work for Trump.

The primary campaign and the general election campaign ARE opposites. That is why most politicians look like complete frauds. They tell their base one thing in the spring, and pivot in the fall. Or as Eric Fehrnstrom, Mitt Romney's senior adviser for his 2012 campaign, put it, "I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign, Everything changes, It's almost like an Etch A Sketch, You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again." Of course, as true as that statement is for campaign strategy, he probably needed to keep that truth to himself.

As part of his campaign shift, Trump needs to do the opposite of what all his impulses tell him to do. If he feels the need to double down on an issue, he probably actually needs to back up. We will see if he has much luck with that. He is the climax of the Republican National Convention Thursday night with his nomination acceptance speech. That speech will determine what kind of direction his campaign will go.

Will he get a bump or a crater? If he does the opposite of his impulses, he will probably be okay.
However his gut is probably telling him not to take the opposite strategy to heart. Someone over at the campaign should probably hide the cake.