Last week was even worse than the one before it for Hillary Clinton, and not just in the obvious ways.
Let’s use a historical analogy, because it’s more entertaining.
In the spring of 1918, it was apparent to the Germans that they needed to end the war on the western front fast before the United States could really kick into high gear for war time. Thus free of the Russian threat, which they had knocked out of the war, the Germans swung to a massive offensive in France that drove the allies back in the worst disarray since 1914, but it was eventually halted and thrown back, and by the end of the year, Germany was done.
If Trump makes all the right moves, June was crooked Hillary Clinton’s “peace offensive.” Free of Bernie Sanders, she swung full force to Trump, but the last two weeks halted her momentum. The ball is now in Donald Trump’s court to play it correctly and launch his own version of the Hundred Days Offensive. It begins by making his “succeeding together” pivot that Scott Adams suggested and picking the right VP.
For Donald Trump, the next two months are crucial. If he launches a counteroffensive in which he reframes the “crazy racist” moniker now attached to him (ala Scott Adams) while running to the left of Hillary Clinton on some issues and to the right of her on others (in other words, if he runs as the nationalist to her globalist), from which point he can go on to thrash her in the debates in the ways that count, he’ll win big. If he can’t do this (in other words, if he continues to do what he did in June), he’ll lose (unless there’s an unpredictable preference cascade), no matter how well he eviscerates her in the debates.
I assume what we see will be the former. After all, it’s the gameplan laid out in Stumped, which he essentially wrote (I’m just the messenger). If he follows his own wisdom, he wins. If he doesn’t, he loses. The gameplan is that powerful.
And we saw evidence that he’s following the gameplan this week.
Those Emails – Subject Line: Crooked Hillary
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first. I already wrote about it elsewhere, so I’ll just put that here.
What does the announcement that there will likely be no charges against the hag mean?
In legal terms, it means she’s off. In persuasion terms, it means she’s in deep shit.
It’s here that Donald Trump’s memes and linguistic kill shots truly display their power. He has been going on for some time now about a “rigged system,” which is potent, direct, and easy to wrap your head around. He benefited from it after Colorado’s delegate allocation and will do so now.
“Rigged system” in relation to Hillary’s email scandal basically gave him, to quote Scott Adams, “two ways to win.”
1. Hillary Clinton would be indicted, in which case he wins.
2. She wouldn’t be indicted, and he can immediately frame that as being a result of her benefiting from a “rigged system.” It’s simple and sounds plausible, so he wins this way too.
Astute readers will recognize this as an employment of Robert Greene’s 31st law of power (control the options by getting others to play the cards you deal). Donald Trump is particularly good at it. It relates to frame control (chapter 3 of Stumped).
But it was way worse than just that.
First, the timing of it was just bad. Occurring after a terrible week for Hillary which was highlighted by an ex-parte meeting between her husband and the attorney general, the sequence of events look rotten…crooked, you could say.
Secondly, the way Jim Comey handled the press conference just added further fuel to the fire. He began by talking about the facts of the case and the investigation, but no one cares about that. This ensured that the middle part of the speech would be muddled. Toward the end, he began talking about “what he found,” which both by its position toward the end (because of the recency effect) and by its very nature, would simply be more memorable. The sequence of the presentation was bad for Hillary.
Thirdly, Comey looked very uncomfortable. In replying to Scott Adams, former FBI agent Joe Navarro (whose work on body language and nonverbal communication is excellent and doesn’t like Trump at all, in case you were wondering) said that he looked stressed.
More like stressed
— Joe Navarro (@navarrotells) July 5, 2016
It was almost as if he didn’t want to say what he was saying, which could easily be interpreted as him allowing her to get away with something.
Fourthly, Comey basically refuted everything she’s said about her email server. She did send and receive information marked as classified at the time it was sent. She was not careful. She was not transparent. It is possible that classified information wound up in the hands of America’s enemies. This of course, reinforces the “Crooked Hillary” linguistic kill shot and seriously damages her on her most vulnerable issue – that people think she’s an untrustworthy crook.
Fourthly, and most damaging of all, there was this gem:
A liar's tell: "…this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences."
— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) July 5, 2016
Yes, A double negative in a prepared statement of this magnitude tells you the truth is problematic. https://t.co/DJEY4gGKzf
— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) July 5, 2016
“…this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences.”
Read that quote again. It’s a double negative. It’s typical politician-speak. Since a double negative in the English language changes the sentence’s polarity, it can read as “this is to suggest that in similar circumstances a person that engaged in this activity would face consequences.”
Comey is basically telegraphing that Hillary is getting away with something. He mentioned for instance that individuals behaving in the way she did often get their security clearances revoked, but that begs the question – why give her an even higher clearance? He even mentioned that it was possible that she violated the law, even though he recommended no charges. This reinforces the frame that “the fix is in” and “the system is rigged.”
The fact that he recommended no criminal consequences doesn’t matter. As Robert Greene says many times, all power is based on appearances.
And this has the appearance of corruption in every way shape and form. And that’s what matters.
Trump was quick to pounce, releasing a clever statement:
Aside from the bit about the blackmail (which he said last month and Comey today reinforced), this has the potential to be the most damaging, in my opinion:
But because of our rigged system that holds the American people to one standard and people like Hillary Clinton to another, it does not look like she will be facing the criminal charges that she deserves.
Bill Clinton didn’t accidentally run into the Attorney General on the airport tarmac last week in Phoenix. Hillary Clinton didn’t accidentally sneak into the FBI during one of the country’s biggest holiday weekends to testify on her illegal activities, something that wouldn’t be afforded to others under investigation (and on a Saturday of all days). It was no accident that charges were not recommended against Hillary the exact same day as President Obama campaigns with her for the first time.
Folks – the system is rigged. The normal punishment, in this case, would include losing authority to handle classified information, and that too disqualifies Hillary Clinton from being President.
Donald Trump now has it on the authority of the FBI director that Hillary Clinton lied and that she plausibly broke the rule of law.
I previously remarked that this election was about fear vs. opportunity, or rather, that was the positioning of the candidates. Fear generally beats opportunity, and Hillary was effective at making you fear Trump in June.
But now Trump can use the fear card against Hillary. If there’s one thing that might be more frightening than a “crazy racist,” it’s someone that flagrantly shits on the rule of law to enrich herself and acquire power, treating herself above the law and the peasant class. Americans have an instinctive allergic reaction to that going all the way back to the Revolution.
If Trump uses this line of attack, and I assume he will, he’ll have multiple ways of winning in November, so long as he continuously makes himself less scary in comparison, or makes her more scary than him.
Note also that at her rally with Obama this week, he remarked that he trusted Hillary’s judgment, meaning that Obama is buying into Donald Trump’s frame, as he has been doing in recent weeks. I was previously curious to see how things would go with him against Trump, because unlike Hillary, Obama is good (rather great) at persuasion on the campaign trail. But my confidence in him as an effective surrogate for Hillary has dropped. Trump has been continuously proving himself even better at the game.
Result: Decisive Victory
Those Meetings on Capitol Hill
It’s not hard to rally against a candidate as visibly distasteful as crooked Hillary Clinton. Though I suspect that many more Republican insiders want to throw their support behind the globalist Hillary Clinton as others among them have, elected officials need to save face with their constituents, and supporting Hillary Clinton with a Republican electorate in local districts was rendered just a bit worse than the kiss of death last week. There is no longer any plausible deniability to visibly support her except among the most rabid “Never Trump” people, but National Review writers don’t win elections. The fact that the Republican National Convention in Cleveland is now only about a week away made the matter that much more important.
The reports are mixed. Some, including Paul Ryan, say it was a great meeting and helped to coalesce the Party. Others say it was tense. Maybe it was both.
Jobs Jobs Jobs
June’s jobs report showed good numbers, in stark contrast to May’s awful one. In June, over 250,000 jobs were created. That’s all that matters.
You can analyze it more deeply, but the number is the only thing that matters in terms of political persuasion.
Good jobs reports benefit the party in power, whichever that party is. Thus, a good jobs report is bad for Donald Trump in terms of persuasion. He can try to spin it, but he’s behind the 8 ball on this narrow, tactical level.
What’s That About Donors?
The narrative of the left went from ostensibly vilifying money in politics to chiding Donald Trump because he was far behind Hillary Clinton in fundraising. Then, after launching various email fundraisers, June’s numbers came in, and they were excellent.
The Trump campaign raised $51 million in June with over 400,000 individual contributions averaging less than $200.
That number is huge (yuge?), and part of that (at least $2 million, but that was only a day or so after it announced so I’m sure the total was far higher) came from a very successful email fundraiser. I know how difficult it is to do email marketing correctly. If you’re very good, you can expect about a third of your email subscribers to take the desired action you want them to, such as clicking on a link. I suspect that the conversion rate for something like a solicitation would be much lower (eCommerce emails usually get a 1% click rate according to Mailchimp).
That either suggests Donald Trump is a godly marketer (we know this, but he’s likely not on that level of omnipotence) or that his email list is very, very large.
People that donate to a candidate will vote for that candidate. There’s no better indicator (aside from the obvious, it gets the donor psychologically invested in the success of the campaign). Further, in addition to the social proof, the optics of it are good. Donald Trump went the crowdfunding route in June, and it worked, in contrast to Hillary Clinton who runs her campaign based on superPACs and big donors.
If Donald Trump can keep this up, some of my other strategic calculations may need to change in terms of his ways of winning.
Donald Trump continued to A/B test his various VP options last week, both on social media and at rallies. He rolled out Bob Corker in North Carolina (who later took his name out of consideration), met with Joni Ernst (who did likewise), campaigned with Newt Gingrich in Ohio (to great reception there), and also rolled out the possibility of running with retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who is one of his foreign policy advisers and was head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Flynn was interviewed Sunday.
I thought he did a good job in terms of his themes, focus, and attention, but his mannerisms are shaky. I asked Scott Adams about it, who replied to me that his performance was, at best, a C+.
In some more disconcerting news, Trump will campaign with Chris Christie this week, but a report is now out stating that Indiana’s governor Mike Pence will almost certainly be the pick.
Who knows? We’ll find out soon enough. I laid out my criteria for a good VP pick last week, and if Trump gets a candidate that fits them all, he should be fine. Anyone who’s name isn’t Chris Christie or Newt Gingrich fits the bill, though Jeff Sessions or Mike Pence are probably the best ones.
Welcome to the 1850s
Conveniently for Hillary Clinton, the other big news this week that drew a lot of attention away from her email shenanigans was a series of shootings. The violence began when two black men, Alton Sterling in Louisiana and in Philando Castile in Minnesota, were shot by police officers in what appeared to be needless, reckless fashions. This sparked the usual outrage and Black Lives Matter uprisings. At one of those uprisings, in Dallas, a madman-turned domestic terrorist killed five police officers and wounded six more. Other violent overtones from Black Lives Matter spread through social media, including hundreds of arrests in Minnesota after people threw rocks at police, and more subtle (if we can call it that) things like this:
#BLM protestors chant "what do we want? DEAD COPS! When do we want it? NOW!". Please share because the media won't. pic.twitter.com/zhyg0NVVwL
— Democrats for Trump (@YoungDems4Trump) July 10, 2016
There was also a quickly-spreading petition for the feds to designate Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization, which I hope you’ll join me in signing.
In the wake of the Dallas shooting, Hillary Clinton posted this reaction:
In contrast, Donald Trump posted something far more sensible that even liberals like the Daily Beast’s Eleanor Clift had no choice but to praise:
This was the tone and content predicted by Scott Adams a week or so ago. It was a tone of mourning, unity, opportunity, and one that perceptibly lamented at racial divisions being worse, not better, under the current regime. It also offered a solution (jobs). In short, it was exactly what he needed in order to pivot toward a Hundred Days Offensive, with a “succeeding together” bombardment to kick it off.
Although he set up terrorism to be a strong issue for him, the way Donald Trump responded to the Orlando Pulse shooting backfired on him because it appeared too self-congratulatory and bombastic. He went into his plan for terrorism too fast and it made him seem like an opportunist taking advantage of a tragedy. Because of this, the effectiveness of the terrorism issue is, for the moment, not as good for him.
Last week, Hillary Clinton made the same mistake.
If the Dallas shooting hadn’t happened, Hillary Clinton’s antics might have scored some points with a needed strategic group for her (black voters), but now in its wake, it appears especially tone-deaf, hectoring, and divisive, with less plausible deniability. There are already some hints:
Note the key words in their messaging:
Clinton: “White Americans,” “African Americans.”
Conclusion: Trump = unity, Clinton = division.
How’s that for a flipped script?!
There’s nothing more that will piss off white Democrats and Independents who supported Bernie Sanders in droves than what you saw above, especially in crucial states like those in the rust belt. Donald Trump played the violent events of the past week perfectly. Hillary Clinton lost in a clean sweep.
Result: Victory (potentially decisive)
White Democrats and Independent voters are two key strategic voting blocs that will decide this election. Read Stumped to learn more about why this is so, and to predict Trump’s coming offensive.