Trump Being Trump: General Election Style (Week 21)

Week 21 was a normal weak, in as far as normal goes. Bad news came out for both sides, and no one had a breakthrough. Perhaps anticipation was rife for the debate tonight.

Lock Him Up?

The week started off with evidence seeming to come to light during the “Bridgegate” trial that Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey and the lead of Donald Trump’s transition team, knew about the bridge closures in the 2013 election season. It was at this point that we saw the sageness of Donald Trump’s advisers swaying him away from choosing Chris Christie as his running mate. As I said at the time, Chris Christie’s reputation would have made attacks on Hillary Clinton as a criminal largely inert. Chris Christie is close enough to Donald Trump already, but the fact that he wasn’t chosen as his running mate largely insulated him from any damage. Had he been chosen, this would have been a much different story.

Result (for Trump): Minor Defeat

Reddit Journalism

Early in the week, some enterprising investigator on Reddit discovered that Hillary Clinton’s IT guy, Paul Cambotta, who received immunity from the FBI in the Hillary Clinton email investigation, went on Reddit under the name of “Stonetear” asking how to remove information related to Hillary Clinton’s emails the day after the order to turn them all over to investigators came in. The idiot didn’t even go under a different name that was harder to track. “Stonetear” was caught deleting his posts hours after the news came out, which was recorded:

All of this essentially proves intent to obstruct justice, which isn’t covered by Cambotta’s immunity. As Mike Cernovich remarked, “this guy’s fucked.” Maybe now instead of pleading the fifth, he’ll sing like a canary? Did he really act alone in using Bleachbit as is claimed?

More at 11.

Result (for Trump): Victory

Bush 4 Clinton?

Early in the week, news broke that George H.W. Bush was going to vote for Hillary Clinton. If true, is anyone really surprised? I predict this will move exactly zero voters.

Result (for Trump): Neutral

Where’s Hillary?

Toward the middle of the week, both candidates were scheduled to campaign in North Carolina. Donald Trump made his appearances. Hillary Clinton canceled both a rally and a fundraiser. Of course, this only added speculation and confirmation bias to Hillary being unhealthy. Donald Trump had a humorous response to hammer the point home.

Result (for Trump): Victory

Don King Loves His N——-

For my safety, I have to blank out that word even though everyone knows what it is anyway. And everyone knows that black Americans refer to each other with that word all the time. But for some reason it was an outrage (or an attempt at one) when Don King, a black man, referred to other black people that way in a black church in Ohio. The story didn’t have any legs beyond that day, but it was an example of the Trump campaign ignoring the media’s attempt to make an issue of the most ridiculous things.

Result (for Trump): Minor Defeat

Meeting with El-Sisi

Last week, the UN General Assembly was in session. I usually hate these sessions because they increase traffic in New York, and this was no exception, but it also provided another opportunity for Donald Trump to make people think past the sale by meeting with another foreign leader, this time Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, an important ally in the fight against ISIS. Hillary Clinton met with him also, but more people were paying attention to the Sisi-Trump meeting, and it seemed to go over well.

There’s a second world leader, from a Muslim country no less, that Donald Trump met with and no catastrophe happened. It seemed to be…normal. And El-Sisi says what those of us in the know already knew – the “Muslim ban” was “truthful hyperbole,” said by Scott Adams almost as soon as it occurred. Listen to the interviewer – “Trump is saying what he needs to say to get elected, but might not follow through.” Just like every other politician.

Result (for Trump): Victory

Crooked Donald

A story from a Jeff Bezos’ Blogger (AKA Washington Post) broke last week that Donald Trump was using his foundation’s money to pay legal fees. This is a clearly shady dealing. But, as Scott Adams remarked, “it’s a tie, foundation wise.” I would disagree, because as I said before, the crook Trump beats the crook Clinton every time because the perception is that Hillary was using one of the highest posts in the land for her own enrichment, which goes a lot further. So this is clearly a defeat, but its fallout will be limited, especially compared to the continuous drip drip of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Result (for Trump): Defeat

Warzone Charlotte

The Black Lives Matter narrative was back in force last week, after multiple shootings of black men. One man in particular, in Charlotte, was purportedly carrying a gun, but as of now the details are still foggy. Regardless, the standalone complex went out in force, and riots ensued. Video came out of rioters dragging a white homeless man toward fire and threatening to beat a white “journalist.” One guy (I think he was a relative of the man who died) called white people “devils” on TV. Hillary Clinton last week seemed to be angrier at these murky shootings than she was of the terrorist attacks the week before.

Hillary Clinton will need some white voters, especially white college educated women, to carry her to victory. And I will say again, nothing is going to get those people angrier than seeming to be sympathetic with these rioters.

Charlotte Black Lives Matter riots

Result (for Trump): Victory

Stop and Frisk

Donald Trump last week said that he was for stop and frisk in response to violence in Chicago, referring to the New York City program under Mike Bloomberg and Ray Kelly. Hillary’s side immediately seized on this by saying that stop and frisk was ruled unconstitutional in a federal court.

Well, not quite. Stop and frisk is a long-held police practice ruled on by the Supreme Court in 1968. NYPD’s implementation of it was ruled unconstitutional, not the tactic itself, and the de Blasio administration yanked Bloomberg’s appeal.

Alright, so there’s some “fact check” journalism of my own, but it’s now time to go back to persuasion journalism and mention that this point won’t sway anyone. It was a talking point to try to limit Donald Trump’s seemingly successful outreach to the black community, but fortunately for him, the fallout was limited, like many other things last week.

Result (for Trump): Minor Defeat

Cheryl Mills

It came to light last week that more emails were released, this time about Cheryl Mills, a top Clinton aide who was given immunity. I didn’t pay much attention to this one, admittedly, but it’s yet more confirmation bias that Hillary Clinton is a crook.

Result (for Trump): Victory

Gollum Hillary

There’s nothing more unattractive than desperation, and this now infamous video is desperation full-stop. Scott Adams remarked that this is the kind of stuff that lets you know a race is over, calling her a “science fiction president of the galactic.” Mike Cernovich had a more visceral take.

And when you view her as Gollum, you never see her in a different light again.

Result (for Trump): Victory

Cuban v. Flowers

In the leadup to the debate, Mark Cuban said he would be sitting in the front row and taunting Donald Trump. Donald Trump responded by saying he’d invite Gennifer Flowers, but his campaign quickly ratcheted that back because the light on Bill Clinton’s infidelities tended to make women more sympathetic for Hillary in the past. This time however, Bill Clinton’s serial sexual predation has become more well-known due to the power of social media, so Donald Trump could have been A/B testing. Regardless, the debate itself quickly overshadowed and will overshadow this. Mark Cuban certainly shut up.

Result (for Trump): Neutral

Aaaand It’s Muslims Again

As the week was coming to an end, there was a mass shooting in a mall in Washington State. Usually these incidents involve white shooters, but this time it was quickly apparent that it did not. The regressive left then hoped for the shooter to be Hispanic, because Hispanics are lower on the pyramid of victimhood than Muslims, but alas, the shooter was a Muslim, a Turkish immigrant, and it turns out, a Hillary Clinton supporter. That’s a trifecta of bad news, and it was made obvious to a lot of “Hispanics” how the regressive left is the one that fetishizes and treats people as objects.

As far as I know, there’s no information about the motivations of this guy, but it fit Trump’s narrative. I don’t want to use the word “victory” in association with this, though.

Trump Meets Netanyahu

Donald Trump met another world leader this week, one who actually knows him well, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. No real details have come out from this meeting, and he met with Hillary Clinton as well, but this was one more instance of “think past the sale” in action.

Donald Trump Benjamin Netanyahu

Result (for Trump): Victory

Predictions for Fight Night

Much of last week was muted of course, because the debate was looming over it. Tonight’s the night! And it feels more like a fight night than a debate. I’ll be downtown with some fellow shitlord deplorables watching. If you’re in the New York City area and want to join us, let me know.

It’s a cliche that you don’t succeed by minimizing your weaknesses, but my maximizing your strengths, and that’s what I have on my mind heading into tonight’s debate shitshow. Each candidate has various strengths that they can bring to the table, and the key will be to use those while shining the spotlight on their opponent’s weaknesses.

Hillary’s strength centers chiefly on facts. She knows more and can (sometimes) sound more “reasonable” than Donald Trump. She’ll need to try to bait Trump into looking crazy or make him seem like he doesn’t know anything. She can then fill in the vacuum and play the contrast game to the hilt. This maximizes her strength, that being “wonk game,” and it is her chief avenue to win. The media will certainly be on her side. If Donald Trump looks crazy or severely underinformed on an important issue even once, the media will signal boost it to the ends of the Earth and try to make it the only thing anyone remembers in the critical days afterward. However, the media will need to take care to not look too biased during the debate itself, or it will only increase the already high distrust the public has of it and render their attempts at framing moot.

Donald Trump has more ways to win, but more ways to lose also. He won’t win the logic battle, but he likely knows that. Hillary Clinton is a wonk. Donald Trump is a persuader. So, what’s Donald Trump to do? He’ll turn the debate into a persuasion battle, of course. This is where his numerous advantages shine.

For starters, Donald Trump knows that debates aren’t really about facts, logic, or policy. They’re about focus and attention. Note the mention above that if Donald Trump looks crazy or like he doesn’t know anything, that’s where the attention will focus. Does anyone remember anything of substance from say, the 1984 debates between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale? No, what you remember is this:

Did you see any facts or logic? I didn’t either.

Fortunately for Donald Trump, his ability to control the frame of a discussion is probably the strongest I’ve ever seen. So, in that way, his strength will be to reframe the discussion and shift the focus to the things he wants to focus on, not the things that Hillary and her side will want to focus on. Look for him to refocus on Hillary Clinton’s emails, the Clinton Foundation, and her numerous catastrophic failures as Secretary of State, among other things. The more people see of Hillary Clinton, the less they like her, so Donald Trump’s chief job will be to control the frame and then refocus it back onto her.

Assisting in this are two other factors. First, Donald Trump is much quicker on his feet than Hillary Clinton is. He is far more able to speedily come up with a witty retort than she is, and as Scott Adams remarked in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, her instinct will be to come up with some fact or some reason, which both isn’t as potent as persuasive storytelling and also will tend to make her look guilty, like she’s trying to explain away something bad, if the focus is on her own dealings.

The second subset of frame control in this debate is that Donald Trump is much funnier than Hillary Clinton. And by that I mean his sense of humor is like the Earth compared to Hillary Clinton’s ant. If Donald Trump can reframe and shift the focus onto something funny, tension will diffuse in the room. It will be impossible to view him negatively at that moment (it is literally impossible to be experiencing a negative emotion when you’re laughing), and he will be a source of pleasure. These are the evolutionary reasons for humor – tension diffusion and social bonding. Look for this to be a factor.

Of course, Donald Trump will need to absolutely avoid looking angry, crazy, or vastly ignorant, for reasons mentioned above. If he does this the way he did the debates in the primaries, he will lose.

There’s also the focus on Hillary Clinton’s health. If he can get her to cough or look somehow unhealthy even once, Hillary will lose because that’s not the type of thing you forget. She better have gone to the bathroom before the debate.

In summation. Hillary’s plan must be:

  1. Throw The Donald off his game and make him look angry, crazy, or uninformed.
  2. Fill in the vacuum with something that makes her sound “reasonable.”
  3. Hope that the media during the debate isn’t too biased for her, but also focuses enough on Trump’s negatives.

Meanwhile, Trump must:

  1. Control the frame. Shift focus to the things he wants to focus on, especially those things that make Hillary Clinton look bad. Try to get her to look unhealthy if possible.
  2. Don’t look crazy.
  3. Don’t look uninformed. Sound “reasonable” enough.

The candidate that follows this strength-maximizing plan the best will win. The fundamental in Hillary’s corner is the media. The fundamental in Donald Trump’s corner is, as Scott Adams wrote, the low expectations surrounding him. Because of that, it’s easier for him to exceed expectations than it will be for Hillary. Therefore, Donald Trump is in a position to not need to win the debate, but just has to not lose too badly. Hillary more likely needs to actually win convincingly.

The whole campaign has basically been Donald Trump’s guerilla warfare against the establishment, and the debate will be the most visible microcosm of that.

Strategic State of the Race

Donald Trump won the month of September. This World Series now has him leading 3 games to 2. He seems to have followed the things I said last month, having his best moments in more intimate settings that used his charismatic abilities to their hilt while avoiding major controversies. Hillary Clinton’s campaign is close to panicking. It’s even rumored that they’ve given up on Ohio.

For Trump, this was a huge breakthrough. Things are certainly trending his way. Here’s my current map:

Donald Trump Hillary Clinton forecast on eve of 1st Debate

Obviously, this is a huge improvement from last month and shows how potent Donald Trump’s powers of persuasion are. He still has a lot of work to do, however. He needs to stay on his current course, and he needs to not fuck up in tonight’s debate as well as the other two. He doesn’t necessarily need to win, but he does have to not look scary, certainly. In other words, he needs to not lose too badly.

Obviously, Donald Trump probably has to flip one more state. If he continues on this course, he can. Colorado is seemingly trending his way, but I have doubts there because the demographics of the state aren’t really great for him, though he should certainly try. A new approach to drug policy and criminal justice would help a lot there. New Hampshire could be a good bet, since he’s polling exceptionally strong in Maine and will likely take one of its electoral votes. Pennsylvania has narrowed, and it and Wisconsin are good states for his campaign themes, as is Michigan, but that’s a trickier one.

If Donald Trump can just look plausible and “not scary” from now on, especially in the debates starting tonight, he’ll win unless something big changes.

Do you want to be a winner like Donald Trump? If so, you should read Stumped because it will show you his persuasion system.

  • Luis Antonio Miguel Moran

    Can’t wait to read what you have to say about the debate.

    View Comment
    • Preview: she won, but it wasn’t the knockout she needed. Trump largely did what he needed to do which was not seem crazy or totally uninformed.

      View Comment