Trump Being Trump: General Election Style (Week 16)

Since the Democratic National Convention, the state of the race has flowed along simple lines: crook vs. lunatic.

Because of that, Donald Trump has been losing decisively since. With the image of nukes flying around in your mind’s eye, the crook will beat the lunatic in the context of presidential politics every time.

Therefore, he needs to do one of two (but preferably both) things if he wants to win:

  1. He has to make himself seem like he is definitively and unambiguously not a lunatic.
  2. He has to turn Hillary Clinton into something worse than a lunatic.

This week, there was some progress on both fronts.

Manafort, the Russian Spy

That’s the narrative that began the week, so it looked to be a not-so-good start for Donald Trump. More details on the connections between Paul Manafort and the former pro-Putin Ukrainian government surfaced. This obviously promoted the narrative that Donald Trump is an agent of Vladimir Putin. How effective this is among the populace at large remains to be seen, but it doesn’t help along the two lines of attack that he needs to make, and that is how everything will be judged for the time being.

Result (for Trump): Defeat

The ISIS Speech

Early in the week, The Donald made a speech on ISIS, terrorism, and foreign policy.

It was in this speech that he once and for all pivoted from “Muslim ban” to “extreme vetting” based on territories, just as Stumped predicted months ago. This position (if adhered to consistently) makes it harder to frame Donald Trump as an unconstitutional lunatic demagogue would-be dictator and makes it easier to see him as “President” instead of “guy that’s running for attention” because the policy seems more “serious.” “Extreme vetting” is also one of those vague phrases, as Scott Adams remarked, where people can fill in the blanks with whatever makes them the happiest. I found myself doing it when I heard it last week – “if they’ve gone to an extreme mosque like the San Bernardino shooter, they don’t get in.” Yet, I realized that was my suggestion, not his!

Bottom line: this was an important step to pivot, a way to “negotiate down” from the Art of the Deal-style overshoot of before.

Result (for Trump): Victory

Pinch Hitter Strikes Out

Last week, Joe Biden of the Hillary Clinton bench team, stepped up to the plate to pinch hit for her in Scranton, Pennsylvania, a critical state. He generally seemed to do the same spin that he did at the Democratic National Convention. There, I remarked that Biden was a potent addition to Hillary’s campaign because he conveys an authenticity that few on her side can match and can reach out to the voters that comprise Trump’s core base in ways that others can’t.

But Joe Biden does come with a significant drawback – his penchant for making gaffes – and not Donald Trump “gaffes,” but actual gaffes. Joe Biden made two.

The first was when he said “Hillary Clinton’s forgotten more about foreign policy than Donald Trump will ever know.”

Of course, when you’re facing serious questions over your judgment, the results of your decisions, and more recent questions over whether you have a bad brain, that’s not going to go over well. Who’s to say she won’t “short-circuit” again and forget some more?

Then where was this…

By the way, is it just me, or does Hillary Clinton look like she can barely keep her eyes open? More on that below!

Result (for Trump): Victory

Roger Ailes Joins the Trump Bench

Ousted Fox News chair Roger Ailes joined the Trump campaign last week, reportedly to help him prepare for the debates.

Since Donald Trump is vulnerable with women, the optics of him having a man accused of sexual assault join his campaign in this age of rape hysteria seem bad. However, if he overperforms in the debates, the move will pay off in massive dividends. He is prepared to accept this tactical defeat for a strategic victory in the future. He’s already practicing.

Result (for Trump): Inconclusive

Deck Reshuffled

Last week, Paul Manafort resigned from the campaign while two new additions came. These were Kellyanne Conway as the new campaign manager and Steven Bannon, who ran Breitbart, as the campaign CEO.

Donald Trump seemed a lot more focused and disciplined this week, not throwing any good money after bad. Bannon being associated with Breitbart was quickly jumped on by the left, but Breitbart’s success speaks for itself. Steve Bannon, as Mike Cernovich remarked, fights hard and he fights to win. Part of fighting to win means getting rid of stupid bullshit that hampers you, and Steve Bannon has a philosophy that “facts sell.” This means that he goes after (and goes after hard), the things that work, leaving behind what doesn’t. Meanwhile, Kellyanne Conway seems to have a history of knowing how to bring women out to vote for you, a group that Donald Trump needs to stop hemorrhaging, especially among college-educated suburban white women.

He had a good week, but we still don’t know for sure how this is going to play out.

Result: Inconclusive

The Push for “Team America”

A few weeks ago, I remarked that Donald Trump seemed to be heading into a push for a “Team America,” in contrast to the identity politics of the left. That, I said, would be a winning message. Yet, this wound up not happening for a while. Last week, it finally seemed to start. His rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, one of the states I call “the Big 6,” was very well-received. He spoke to all Americans and tried to unify the country. More tellingly, SJW’s began to panic over it.

Donald Trump even wound up saying that he “regrets” some of the things he’s said in the past. This in turn made him seem more human, that he wasn’t, as Scott Adams remarked, completely lacking in empathy, and that in turn made him seem less like a lunatic.

Meanwhile, as Scott Adams further remarked, his “apology” was ambiguous. It was done in a way that didn’t have him surrendering frame and prostrating himself before the altar of political correctness (which he explicitly attacked before the “apology” and so looked strong). This ambiguity, as Scott wrote, also had the effect of leading his opponents in the media into a trap. Now instead of trying to take the self-righteous, virtue signaling, moralistic high ground so typical of the left, their own status was reduced because they became little more than pedants trying to nitpick, overanalyze, and criticize any tiny thing about him, leaving exposed the operations of the media in general all year long.

If I can criticize one thing about that episode, it was that Donald Trump’s voice tones still need work. He sounded slightly robotic – and robots aren’t human and don’t have human emotions (which he needs to show at strategic times for people to fully get on board with the idea that he isn’t a lunatic). Nevertheless, this was an excellent start, and it was a very effective disarming tactic against his opponents.

Even before the rally in Charlotte, he was saying this:

Donald Trump no bigotry empathy

This all should have happened a month ago (while starting to build to it all the way back in May), with the climax coming during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, but it’s certainly better late for him than never. He will need to continue on this track consistently and without deviation.

Result (for Trump): Victory

Crooks Gonna Crook

Last week, it was announced that should Hillary Clinton be elected President, the Clinton Foundation would no longer accept corporate or foreign donations. This reminded us of two things:

  1. The Clinton Foundation accepts corporate and foreign donations (said by Scott Adams).
  2. Hillary Clinton, while Secretary of State and a major party candidate for President, is connected to a foundation that accepts corporate and foreign donations. This caused even the liberal media to ask why this was only announced now.

There were also more email leaks that seemed to suggest that there were improprieties going on between the State Department during the tenure of Hillary Clinton. Quid pro quo situations for donors to the Clinton Foundation seemed to be suggested to a lot of people.

As I remarked before, there would be a steady stream of information tarring Hillary Clinton as a crook and Donald Trump as a lunatic all the way until election day. Unlike Donald Trump however, Hillary Clinton can’t simply change how her personality appears. To not be a crook, various things she can’t control at all would have to change, and that won’t happen.

Result (for Trump): Victory

I’m Not Saying it was Ransom, but it was Ransom

Last week, it was revealed that the release of hostages in Iran did, in fact, coincide with a payment of $400 million, just as many (including me), said. The Obama administration vehemently denies that any ransom payment was made, but that’s certainly what it looks like.

Result (for Trump): Victory

Louisiana Floods

Last week, Louisiana experienced its worst natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina, leaving hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses flooded. While President Obama was in Martha’s Vinyard playing golf, and Hillary Clinton was also there celebrating Bill’s birthday, Donald Trump and Mike Pence had their boots on the ground, giving out supplies.

Of course it’s all spin and hype, but Donald Trump looked to be better on this front last week, and that’s all that matters. He also reportedly donated $100,000 to a local church that would distribute supplies.

Result (for Trump): Victory

Crooks Gonna Crook, Part 2

A federal judge that was appointed by Bill Clinton ordered that Hillary answer a series of questions asked by the conservative group Judicial Watch over her emails. Theoretically, she can wait until after the election, but that would just look bad. Crook will still beat lunatic regardless of this, but what if Donald Trump continues on this path? Crook can’t win in that scenario, and this adds more tar to “crook.”

Result (for Trump): Victory

Trump Supporters Attacked

As the week ended, the latest bolt of left-wing inspired violence struck. Donald Trump supporters at a Minneapolis fundraiser were attacked by leftist “protesters.”

Attacking his supporters at an event such as a campaign fundraiser can’t be seen as ambiguous. This was an aggressive act.

Result (for Trump): Victory

Where’s Hillary?

Did it seem that as the week went on, Hillary Clinton disappeared? It looked that way to me. And yet at the same time, questions over Hillary Clinton’s health accelerated (even if untrue). Mike Cernovich started a storm on Twitter about how she seems to need to sit on a stool at every appearance. Those stools coincidentally disappeared last week (as did her handler). The trend “#WheresHillary” began to float on Twitter in response to her seeming disappearance, which was promptly followed up by “#WheresTrump” the next morning, showing how little talent Hillary’s team of SJW’s on social media really has.

As remarked above, one of the key things that Donald Trump (or at least his supporters) needs to do is make Hillary Clinton something worse than a lunatic. There are few things scarier than a lunatic in the Oval Office, but a crook with dementia who can “short-circuit” on a whim and barely move unaided is arguably (and that is the key word) one of them.

If I’m Donald Trump, I’d bring back an old linguistic kill shot and start remarking on how low-energy Hillary Clinton is, how unenthusiastic her support is, and how she can’t energize that enthusiasm because she herself has no energy. It also works as a double whammy because it highlights her lack of social proof. Even if the media tries to hammer him over this, it would force them to admit that she’s old and sick. An indirect attack, rather than a full-blast, seems the best way, and “low energy” is very indirect and very lethal.

If I’m Hillary Clinton, I better start looking more animated. That means doing a press conference once a week.

Hillary Clinton low energy

The Appeal to the Black Voter

As part of his “Team America” push, Donald Trump made a direct appeal to black voters last week. This was important enough that I decided to give it its own separate section.

Remarking on the joblessness, poverty, broken families, criminality, and incarceration in the inner cities, and how Democrats treat the black community as essentially disposable because they know they’ll always get the black vote, he asked, “what do you have to lose?”

This is truly historic for a modern Republican candidate, showing once more that Donald Trump, for all his imperfections, is giving the party new tools to win. Republicans have generally completely written off black voters, not making an effort to relate to them in a way they’ll understand, but it’s a fact that Democrats need 90% of the black vote to win. The fact that Republicans haven’t been able to stop the Democrats from getting 90% of the black vote is yet another sign of how truly pathetic the party has become.

By making an appeal directly to the needs of black voters, Donald Trump may be laying the foundation of something big, even if it doesn’t wind up benefiting him personally. I’ve said in Stumped that 2016 is a realigning election, and this is another sign of that.

Flabbergasted by this, CNN basically fell into the trap, doing what exactly Donald Trump accused the left of doing by mentioning this in a bit of projection:

Result (for Trump): Victory

This week showed progress on both critical fronts. Donald Trump is still behind and will need to do a lot more, but the important thing is that he’s no no longer boxed in on the Go board. In response to his moves this week, the state of Hillary Clinton’s persuasion for the week can accurately be summed up as such:

Months ago in Stumped, I said that The Donald was viewing black voters as part of his coalition and would make appeals to them in the general election. If you want to find out the other blocs of the Trump coalition that he’ll likely move to over the coming months, you can read Stumped here.