Week 17 was bad for both candidates. It was however, worse for Donald Trump, because the bad news for Hillary Clinton just made her look more like a crook, which won’t be enough for him to win. The bad news for Donald Trump made him look more like a lunatic – but not as decisively as it could have.
Colin Says No
The week began with a refutation of a seemingly small Hillary lie – that Colin Powell advised her to use a personal email account while at the State Department. That conversation she said she had with the former Secretary of State? He says it never happened.
Just another lie, I guess.
Result (for Trump): Victory
More Emails, AP Bomb
Soon afterward, more emails were released, and the AP (an outlet of what is traditionally known as the liberal mainstream media) came out with a story that during her tenure as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton seemed to grant a lot of access to big donors to the Clinton Foundation. In response, Hillary Clinton vehemently denied the alleged improprieties and said “there was a lot of smoke but no fire.”
Of course, “a lot of smoke” implies wrongdoing anyway, and also implies fire. Denials are seen by the public as tacit admissions of guilt, and this denial just made her look like more of a liar and a crook. Hillary Clinton hasn’t read Stumped and so she doesn’t know the basics of frame control. Hence, she didn’t know how to get out of this.
Result (for Trump): Victory
Last week, Donald Trump seemed to have an inconsistency on his signature issue – immigration. He seemed all over the place. People were accusing him of “flip flopping.” Would there be a deportation force or wouldn’t there be? Would his focus just be on “getting out the bad ones?” Would he simply continue the Obama policy like he seemed to imply?
Naturally, the pundits, looking at the world without persuasion goggles, saw confusion, inconsistency, and hypocrisy. People that have actual awareness saw that Donald Trump was conducting a live A/B test assisted by the media. What’s more stunning is that he made it so obvious and the pundits still missed it.
Shout for A! No shout for B!
We’ll see how Donald Trump’s A/B test plays out on Wednesday, when he gives his long-awaited immigration policy speech.
Result (for Trump): Inconclusive
Those Damn Iranians
When will they learn?
Or is it when will we?
Last week, Iran harassed a US ship. As I’ve mentioned many times before, because Donald Trump has essentially dominated all the space on the Iranian issue and because the Obama administration negotiated a highly criticized deal, any issue concerning Iran benefits Donald Trump, though it won’t be nearly enough to elect him.
Result (for Trump): Victory
Hillary’s Alt-Right Speech
The biggest news of the week by far (at least in the places where people actually communicate) was Hillary Clinton’s speech on the “alt-right,” the emerging, young, energetic faction that has been a key supporter of Donald Trump and has damaged Hillary far more than any traditional conservative (derisively called “cuckservative”) outlet has done.
Many people were both nervous and simultaneously excited as to where this would potentially go. In the end, it was a total flop.
Since the alt-right isn’t well known by a lot of people (and the trolls didn’t do their homework of building websites and writing books to make them easily discovered on Google), she had the potent ability to build up an unknown (which itself creates fear), utterly evil monster.
What I was expecting her to do was to make Donald Trump the demagogic leader of a nascent mob of stormtroopers just chomping at the bit to engage in the next Krystallnacht. Indeed, there was a lot of material out there to twist into that narrative.
In the end, I expected too much. Hillary may have evolved some. She may have put together a good bench team, but she’s still an utterly terrible persuader, and her campaign still has a good deal of people that have no idea what they’re doing.
Instead of painting the picture of the new Hitler leading the new stormtroopers and SS, her speech was an entirely unfocused mishmash, rehashing things we’ve already heard a million times and bringing up her own health which she was trying to divert attention from.
Toward the end of the speech I thought she was finally getting on the right path by name dropping Breitbart, Nigel Farage, and talking about a rising new right around the world. She could have feasibly made Donald Trump the prospective leader of this new international Reich of would-be stormtroopers. For instance, she could have used the Leslie Jones hack and said – “look at all these bigoted misogynists harassing people, threatening people and ruining lives. Look how the alt-right harassed, intimidated, and threatened Leslie Jones just yesterday, exposing her most intimate details in a dehumanizing campaign of pure and unadulterated hatred. Donald Trump is mobilizing these people around himself like the dangerous, maniacal cult of personality that he is. We simply cannot let this man into power or these people will mobilize around him to enforce his edicts with a zeal that should be terrifying in a free republic. So many people will be the targets of his hateful army. That hateful army has already taken shape, has already engaged in campaigns bordering on racial and religious violence, and it calls itself the alt-right.”
Something like that, and keeping on that theme throughout the entire speech, mentioning numerous stories that people could easily relate to. Like I said, the material was there. That would have been entirely new, and entirely, utterly terrifying, and the conversation would necessarily have shifted away from her health, even for the alt-right side. Donald Trump preempted that somewhat (see below), but he still would have been behind and it would have forced him to work a lot harder to dispel the lunatic label surrounding his character in this grand drama, so his initiative would have been sapped.
Guess how much of that she did? Zero.
Instead she flitted about to Vladimir Putin (which was instantly mocked as her wearing a tinfoil hat and engaging in conspiracy theories of her own) and talked about the Olympics.
There was no theme or focus to the speech, and I could have mistaken it for an SJW rant on Tumblr. She brought up stuff we already know, but in the end there was nothing memorable to the speech that would further the frame of Trump as a lunatic in ways that could have countered his and his side’s recent moves for the long term. This whole thing will be forgotten in a few days. She had the opportunity to truly define the alt-right (made especially so by their own errors in that field) and failed spectacularly.
Take note. This is what the loss of a golden opportunity looks like. If you’re going to talk about a new subject, you keep focus on that subject and make it memorable, especially by engaging your prospects’ imaginations, ending with a call to action on your behalf. You don’t talk about facts that they already know and that are only tangentially related to the subject. You also don’t fret about from topic to topic.
And aside from the content of the speech itself, the way it was handled was terrible too. Hillary was supposed to go on at 1 P.M. EST. She delayed twice, an hour each time. That allowed Donald Trump to preempt the speech at his rally in New Hampshire that day by talking about how despicable it was that Hillary was attacking “decent people” (key words from Nigel Farage that are new and hit hard emotional triggers) and that her final refuge for losing the argument was to call her opponents “racist.”
I said in chapter 9 of Stumped that terms like “racist” don’t mean crap anymore, and now you’re beginning to see it live.
But it gets worse! By delaying, she not only surrendered the initiative and allowed Trump to dominate the space (his speech was far more memorable than hers), but she also fueled further speculation about her health. I immediately smirked that she had to delay because “she was too sick to stick to her schedule.” Sure enough, that was the theme being discussed on social media. So instead of deflecting from her health, she just lent more confirmation bias to the idea that she’s a crook with dementia.
In the end, the alt-right speech was able to win Hillary Clinton the week because it served as a reminder of all the bad things Donald Trump has done and refreshed our memories that he’s a racist lunatic, but it didn’t do anything new for the long term. It will also turn out to be a net negative in the future because as Scott Adams remarked, Hillary Clinton basically called 40% of the American public (the “decent people” Donald Trump referred to in his speech) racist, where Donald Trump’s controversies have all been with people “in the cage fight with him.”
Result (for Trump): Defeat (short term)
How Dare You Question Your Master?
Last week it was announced that Dr. Drew’s show on CNN would air its final episode at the end of September. This came only a week after he mentioned he had grave concerns over Hillary Clinton’s health. Those statements have since been scrubbed from their point of origin (though the internet never forgets). The canceling of the show so soon after his statement obviously leads one to conclude that he was sacked because he questioned Hillary Clinton’s health, even if in fact his sacking had nothing at all to do with it. That “America’s most trusted doctor” had his show canceled because of a statement about Hillary will just let confirmation bias do the rest.
Result (for Trump): Victory
The Dwayne Wade Tweet
Over the weekend, Donald Trump tweeted this:
Dwyane Wade’s cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago. Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2016
All politicians take advantage of tragedies to push their agenda, but Donald Trump made it too obvious that he was taking advantage of a tragedy by putting himself in the middle of it. This in turn makes it easier for you to confirm the label of “lunatic demagogue.”
Result (for Trump): Defeat
The Health Challenge
Over the weekend, Donald Trump also tweeted this:
I think that both candidates, Crooked Hillary and myself, should release detailed medical records. I have no problem in doing so! Hillary?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2016
You can see that this tweet got much higher engagement than normal.
This does invite the obvious retort of “when will you release your tax returns?” Yet, it also puts Hillary Clinton’s health front and center and allows him to impose a direct frame on her. And because he offered to release his own detailed medical records, it makes him seem transparent and fair. I doubt most Americans will disagree that both candidates should release their medical records in the interest of transparency. It just seems too reasonable.
So if Hillary Clinton hesitates to release her records, it looks like she’s hiding something, and your brain tells you when observing her mannerisms that something about her just seems off, even if nothing really is. She just seems…low energy. You also know that she has suffered from poor health in the not-too-distant past, and she’s only gotten older since then. If Hillary does release her records and we see what medications she’s on, that gives a new opening for attack, though it’s the least bad option if her health, is in fact very good. Better, if Donald Trump times the release of his medical records with the release of his tax returns and all is fine, that’s a very potent signal of superiority.
This is all still speculative, but the fact that Donald Trump is imposing a direct challenge via the one offensive move he currently has that matters (making her look worse than a lunatic), is a small victory signifying he’s beginning to think in the right way.
Result (for Trump) : Victory
The Return of the Weiner
Ah, yes, Anthony Weiner, the man who was once the likely man to succeed Mike Bloomberg as Mayor of New York City until…his wiener did him in. Twice.
Well, how about three times for a charm?
Just a week after #HillarysHuma was trending big time, questioning the dealings and past of Hillary Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, the man she happens to be married to, Anthony Weiner, came roaring back…with his wiener.
He was caught in a third sexting scandal, with this woman (who happens to be a Donald Trump supporter, talk about violating law 4 and saying more than necessary):
But Carlos Danger really did himself in this time, because he texted a lewd picture of himself with his toddler son next to him (NSFW):
Since Anthony Weiner is married to Huma Abedin, and that is Huma’s son in the picture, and Huma is the top aide to Hillary Clinton, this is definitely going to find its way to the campaign trail. Donald Trump will paint a picture of sleaziness being attracted to the Clintons like a magnet, and that picture borders on people’s conceptions of pedophilia.
And if there’s one thing that will definitely lose to a lunatic, it’s a pedophile, or a pedophile apologist.
Grab your popcorn.
Result (for Trump): Victory
Strategic State of the Race
Hillary, as you were expecting, won the month of August. This World Series is now tied 2-2. She came into the month with massive momentum, and although it was blunted somewhat with the questions over her health and Donald Trump’s new moves, she was still able to ride the sails to a certain extent to carry her further in key states. As things currently stand, Hillary Clinton is looking at quite possibly the biggest electoral landslide since 1984, with up to 385 Electoral votes. I present to you below the best case scenario for Hillary Clinton:
Of course, I very much doubt that will wind up being the case. If I had to guess how the race turns out at this time, I would picture something like this:
In actuality, the current state of the race is too close to call in several states, including some of the Big 6:
By this map, Hillary Clinton still wins, so things don’t look too good for Donald Trump as of the end of game 4. To win in this scenario, he would need to flip at least one of the states currently leaning toward Hillary Clinton and then essentially run the table on the rest of the grey ones, with little margin for error.
In a normal World Series, games 1 and 2 begin at the ballpark of the home team, that home team being the team that won the All Star Game in modern baseball. We can say that Hillary Clinton won the conventions, so in that analogy, she won the All Star Game. Donald Trump took game 1 (May) as a visitor. Hillary Clinton took game 2 (June) at home, then lost game 3 (July) as a visitor, but started to show pep in the bottom of the 9th inning, a preview for game 4 (August) when Donald Trump scored two runs at best and Hillary Clinton scored 10, blowing him out in his own ballpark. Since Donald Trump goes for home runs, he strikes out a lot too (and looks really bad doing it against Hillary’s improved pitching staff), while Hillary Clinton plays small ball.
So to further this imperfect, Scott Adams-style analogy, Donald Trump will need to adapt and play smaller ball while relying more on his bench team, which isn’t as good as hers, in game 5, his final game at home, after which, he’ll need to seriously make a run as a visitor in Hillary Clinton’s ballpark in order to win the World Series. To win game 5, he’ll need to slowly creep up the scoreboard by putting the ball in play and not striking out as much, then improve his swing to go for home runs in the bottom of the ninth inning of September which is…the first debate.
How does he improve his swing and play small ball while doing so? First, by making himself seem less like a lunatic. He can do that by meeting directly with the people that think he hates them, by walking among them, unfiltered. He can follow some of the strategies Robert Greene lays out in The Art of Seduction for the Charismatic (which is the type that Donald Trump is, with Charmer traits):
The Miraculous Prophet:
Miracles and saintliness aside, Joan of Arc had certain basic qualities that made her exceptional. Her visions were intense; she could describe them in such detail that they had to be real. Details have that effect: they lend a sense of reality to even the most preposterous statements. Furthermore, in a time of great disorder, she was supremely focused, as if her strength came from somewhere unworldly. She spoke with authority, and she predicted things people wanted: the English would be defeated, prosperity would return. She also had a peasant’s earthy common sense. She had surely heard descriptions of Charles on the road to Chinon; once at court, she could have sensed the trick he was playing on her, and could have confidently picked out his pampered face in the crowd. The following year, her visions abandoned her, and her confidence as well—she made many mistakes, leading to her capture by the English. She was indeed human.
That latter part is a warning that Donald Trump must heed now.
The Authentic Animal:
When Rasputin arrived, few could disguise their disappointment: his face was ugly, his hair was stringy, he was gangly and awkward. They wondered why they had come. But then Rasputin approached them one by one, wrapping his big hands around their fingers and gazing deep into their eyes. At first his gaze was unsettling: as he looked them up and down, he seemed to be probing and judging them. Yet suddenly his expression would change, and kindness, joy, and understanding would radiate from his face. Several of the ladies he actually hugged, in a most effusive manner. This startling contrast had profound effects.
Undaunted, Lenin went to work. Wherever he went, he repeated the same simple message: end the war, establish the rule of the proletariat, abolish private property, redistribute wealth. Exhausted with the nation’s endless political infighting and the complexity of its problems, people began to listen. Lenin was so determined, so confident. He never lost his cool. In the midst of a raucous debate, he would simply and logically debunk each one of his adversaries’ points. Workers and soldiers were impressed by his firmness. Once, in the midst of a brewing riot, Lenin amazed his chauffeur by jumping onto the running board of his car and directing the way through the crowd, at considerable personal risk. Told that his ideas had nothing to do with reality, he would answer, “So much the worse for reality!”
People criticize Donald Trump for not reaching out to non-white voters in their own communities? Go to those communities. Eschew some of the big rallies. Talk to people on the streets with no filter, one on one, and repeat your lofty goals for a general “America First,” “Team America” vision, which as a platform is very appealing to all Americans. Donald Trump’s great mistake has been to fudge the presentation of it, and presentation is what matters in the end. This gives him an alternative way of making a presentation. He may be getting the message by venturing to Detroit this week.
These are all things Hillary Clinton simply cannot do authentically, because Hillary Clinton is mostly an anti-seducer. This kind of small ball game is something Hillary Clinton’s pitching simply isn’t expecting from him, so it could confound her entire team. Donald Trump goes for home runs, so that’s what they’ll be expecting. He doesn’t bunt or steal bases. Doing so would force them to respond to his initiative while he saves his biggest blasts for the debate in the 9th inning.
It really isn’t that hard to make Hillary Clinton look worse than him. Donald Trump just needs to make those kinds of adjustments. Unless it’s too late, which it quite possibly is, but I’m not going to say it’s over for sure until after the debates have ended.
If there’s anything this year has taught us beyond anything else, it’s that anything can happen.
And Donald Trump is the one, through his mastery of persuasion, that puts that “anything” into play in ways no other candidate has been able to do. You can put that “anything” into play for yourself by reading Stumped.