Week 25 was far more subdued than the previous week, but burning tensions only lurked just beneath the surface as more shenanigans about the Democrats came out, while Donald Trump delivered arguably his greatest speech of the entire 16-month campaign. Yet, it doesn’t look to be enough, at least according to the present data.
The Crook, Continued
The steady drip drip of Wikileaks email dumps continued. More shady dealings in the Clinton camp were revealed. These included such things like more undisclosed relations with the media, as seen with Politico’s Glenn Thrush and Vox’s Ezra Kelin.
This one’s just the best https://t.co/nKGkE0Q2JS
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) October 19, 2016
Clinton official Palmieri suggests coordinating with Ezra Klein to disseminate talking points about HRC’s emails pic.twitter.com/E9SSOGLoJ9
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) October 17, 2016
There was also the revelation that Hillary needs a stool because she “cannot walk around,” affirming something Mike Cernovich noticed months ago. Huma Abedin wanted a shorter Benghazi statement because Hillary couldn’t stand for too long.
There was also this gem showing that Hillary’s people were conspiring to obstruct a congressional subpoena and withhold emails.
— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) October 18, 2016
This is banana republic level corruption, and it will matter in the election’s aftermath should Hillary win. But in terms of this election, we’re used to it by now. Something needs to come out in Hillary’s own damning words in order to hit real hard at this point.
Result (for Trump): Minor Victory
Damning undercover camera footage from Project Veritas came out this week, showing Democrat voter turnout practices and, more damningly, that the “violence at Trump rallies” tactic used toward the beginning of the year was what those of us in the know expected at the time (made more obvious that these people were carrying Bernie Sanders gear) – they were coordinated by professional provocateurs.
The tell for cognitive dissonance is that the Democrats and the media that orbits them immediately tried to question the credibility of the tape instead of denying the accusations. If it were the opposite, you can be sure that we’d never hear the end of it. But the tape, plus the seeming consistency of violence from the left (Black Lives Matter, the firebombing at the North Carolina GOP office, etc.) and the layoffs or resignations of certain operatives because of the video, means that this is a win for Donald Trump.
He needs to hammer this home as much as possible.
Result (for Trump): Victory
I ventured downtown once again to watch the third and final debate. This one was by far the most annoying. And there weren’t even any approachable girls afterward. What a shame.
First, Chris Wallace was by far the best moderator. He acted fairly, in my opinion, and he asked by far the most important questions, such as the potential escalation of conflict with Russia in the case of Syria, like imposing a no-fly zone, instead of the stupid “BUT WHAT ABOUT ALEPPO?!” bullshit from the warmongering Martha Raddatz at the second debate.
1. Trump won the body language battle this time, easily. Hillary Clinton looked stiff the entire time and she had the phony smile plastered on her face (a clear liar’s tell). Meanwhile, at one point her face looked a hot volcanic red. Score 1 for The Donald.
2. I’ve talked about the primacy effect before. As a refresher, the primacy effect is the tendency for our stupid brains to prioritize the first thing we hear about something and think it’s the most important. The debate started off with abortion, which Trump didn’t reframe on, which was stupid because that wasn’t a battle he could win, especially against a female opponent. Score 1 for Hillary.
3. I could tell that Hillary Clinton was carefully coached for this affair by a heavy hitter, possibly Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and now Pre-Suasion. The word that tipped me off to this was during the immigration segment when Hillary mentioned the word “trains” in association with Donald Trump’s postulated “deportation force.” Pair the concept of trains with deportations and what do you get? Answer below and tell me if you saw the subtext. To round it all up, Hillary used one of Trump’s own kill shots against him by saying he “choked” with the Mexican president (think past the sale) and hired undocumented laborers over American workers. The immigration segment scored another 1 point for Hillary.
4. Hillary called Donald Trump a “puppet of Putin,” in response to his saying she gets “no respect” from Putin. That made me think she would win on this subject, but Donald Trump later on highlighted her incompetence and made you see past the sale by saying “Putin outsmarted her.” We’re kind of used to the puppet of Putin thing enough now that most people on social media think it’s ridiculous, compared to her known failures and visible reality in the Middle East. She later made it worse by affirming her inclination toward establishing a no fly zone in Syria which made it look like she wants World War 3. Trump won on the boogeyman Putin/Russia topic. During that time, she also inadvertently paired “Muslims” with “terrorism.” Score 1 for him.
5. “Chinese steel” and “crocodile tears.” Hilarious. 1 point for Hillary.
6. More criminal allegations about “6 billion stolen” and stuff about the FBI, etc. 1 point for Trump, but that won’t be enough.
7. The topic of Bernie Sanders came up again. Donald Trump once again cited Bernie’s saying Hillary had bad judgment. Hillary countered with the social proof of Sanders’ support (however insincere we know it all is) and saying that Bernie called him the most dangerous person ever to run in modern times. 1 point for Hillary.
8. Hillary didn’t take the bait about public and private positions. 1 point for her.
9. On the subject of “violence at Trump rallies” which came up and was a media meme early in the year, Trump hammered home what I and many others in my social circle knew at the time – that Hillary’s people are sending people to provoke that violence, which was recently “caught on tape.” Pair that with the recent vandalism and fire bombings of GOP offices and Black Lives Matter antics and the subject of violent supporters works against the Democrats. Hillary shut up quite quickly about it. Clear +1 for Trump.
10. Trump paired the mediocre jobs report with “win easily” and flowery language. He did a better job of creating vagueness to invite blank-filling on the economy than she did. +1 for Trump.
11. Hillary Clinton at one point cleverly reframed Donald Trump’s words to imply that he was saying he was better than Ronald Reagan. This was a clear play for Republicans unhappy with Trump, and it was new. I liked it. +1 for Hillary.
12. On the all-important topic of women in this new play of the crook vs. the rapist, Hillary Clinton did a good job in ignoring anything against her husband and bringing up the outrage train. Yet, later on, Donald Trump challenged Hillary Clinton for taking a lot of money from countries that mistreat women horribly like Saudi Arabia and Qatar and asked her to give that money back. That neutralized the “women’s card” while also affirming her crook status. This one was a wash.
13. On that, “I’ll keep you in suspense” thing, the media outrage train took it as soon as it came. As far as persuasion goes, this is what Scott Adams calls a “two ways to win” strategy. If he wins, fine, if he loses, it’s “rigged.” It isn’t whining. It’s giving yourself more ways to win than you ordinarily have, which is why he does it. The drawback is that the media tried to spread the fear factor as soon as the words left his lips, and it’s vague enough for you to imagine all kinds of terrible things that make you feel the most scared. Although I mostly consider this to be mundane (Trump as “scary” in this sort of way is kind of played out, which is why they brought up all this “sexual assault” stuff big league), it was probably a minor tactical defeat Trump willingly allowed himself to suffer to preserve operational and strategic assets, so +1 for the hag.
So let’s see the scorecard:
Trump started off weak but came back more strongly. Hillary won on points but nothing exchanged in this debate was decisive except for the possibility that Trump could break through with the Saudi challenge or by saying that her campaign is sponsoring violence and pointing to the videos. It depends on how he uses that stuff. So far I haven’t seen it.
Result (for Trump): Minor Defeat
Al Smith Push/Pull
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton attended the quadrennial Al Smith charity dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, as customary for presidential candidates, the day after the third debate. For those of you not aware, Al Smith was the first Catholic nominee of a major party, an election I went over in the 12th chapter of Stumped.
The dinner, as you might expect, is a status showcasing for New York’s plutocrats. It’s a full white tie affair.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton didn’t shake hands or interact with one another at all. The Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, had the unfortunate roll of being the host of the dinner, which meant he was the one sitting between the two of them.
Donald Trump began the evening with the traditional, often self-deprecating humor expected. Then he went into a full-fledged assault on Hillary Clinton in the most elegant of fashions. Later on, Hillary Clinton went on the same course, and it was one of the occasions I’ve seen Donald Trump actually displaying weak body language by essentially hugging himself.
For a lot of people, this signaled that Donald Trump was even more the real deal because he went into the house of the elites and essentially castigated them. But his ballsy antics probably didn’t do anything in a wider context. Neither did hers.
Result (for Trump): Neutral
As the week was coming to a close, the Ecuadorian embassy in London confirmed that Julian Assange’s internet access was cut in the midst of the continuing Wikileaks dumps. Julian’s whereabouts were also open to question.
Whatever the outcome of this, it only added confirmation bias to the “system being rigged.”
Result (for Trump): Victory
The Gettysburg Address
At the end of the week, Donald Trump ventured to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to make a historic address. The symbolism, the Pre-Suasion, if you will, was unquestionable. By name-dropping Abraham Lincoln at the beginning, you could tell that it was on.
The speech began with an outline of a corrupt power structure, with Donald Trump saying that if a man like him, with unlimited resources, can take such abuse by the system and the hoaxing media, imagine what those lackeys can do to you. Then he stated that Hillary Clinton wasn’t running for herself, but running against change and the American people and voters.
This is good persuasion because “you” and to a lesser extent “the American people” aren’t abstractions. They are concrete fears, and they play a good role as victims to a corrupt “system.”
Afterward, he outlined all his reforms in what was essentially his platform speech of the election.
I suspect that most Americans are in favor of most of the things he outlined, such as term limits on congress to start off with.
Result (for Trump): Victory
The problem is, those things are unlikely to carry as much weight if you hate someone or if you think he’s now a “rapist.” His Gettysburg Address falls in the shadow of a lot of other things, and it’s the story that matters, not the details. Donald Trump’s Gettysburg address attempts to tell a different story, titled “Drain the Swamp,” which is brilliant because a swamp is a big visual with a lot of murky and scary things. Yet, it’s still not probably as visceral as “the rapist.” It would at least take more time to stick, and time is running out.
Human beings organize their lives and worldviews in terms of stories, not facts. Those that master the art of telling the story your prospect wants to hear can sell them on anything (or seduce them).