TJ | 22nd Aug, 2016

A Trump Presidency

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How many people remember Donald Trump discussed running for President in the 2012 election? My bet is not many. In cleaning up some posts on this blog I found a piece I had written in 20122 about a Tump Presidency. It is easy to just transpose to the present. So here we have Donald Trump as Presidential candidate circa 2016, five years later. Some things don’t change.

The picture above is from 2011. Note the changes: he has colored his hair more. He doesn’t wear fancy suits to remind people of his wealth, he wears a baseball cap. Oh yes, note the flag in the background. The placement is wrong, we can just barely see it. Trump 2016 has learned to put flags everywhere so any picture from any angle will have the flag right behind him. Contenders for 2020 take note: color your hair so you look younger (then dis your opponent for looking too old), don’t wear expensive Italian suits, get a baseball cap and make sure the flag is front and center.

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I still find it hard to believe Donald Trump is seriously running for President and that the media are taking him seriously.  But since they are I guess the rest of us need to also. So in that light I am offering the following guide to what we might expect from a Trump Presidency.

1) A White House Wedding: The Donald has had more marriages than I can count, so the odds are that at some point in a Trump Presidency there will be a White House wedding.  That would put him in some rather rarified company.  Trivia question for the day: who was the last President to be married WHILE in the White House?

2) Solve the Deficit with National Casinos: All over the country states have gambling as a means of solving their budget deficits. In Minnesota in order to avoid raising taxes or actually making meaningful budget cuts,  the Republicans would even fund a racino. Have they been talking to Trump? This is the first President we have had with wide experience with gambling casinos, so it would be a shame not to make use of it. After all here is what his website says:

Only at a Trump Resort can you truly experience the Trump lifestyle. The unabashed luxury. The electricity. The excitement. Everything you seek when you visit Atlantic City. And more.

Find gaming that exhilarates. Dining that satisfies. Spas that soothe. Accommodations that inspire.

The first one could go up on the Potomac on a riverboat or perhaps, even better, convert the iconic Smithsonian Castle into a slot machine and poker hotspot right on the National Mall in easy reach of all the tourists.

The Casino would feature an American-themed decor using authentic objects from the Smithsonian collection.  The requisite casino buffet would feature selections from each of the states.  Since the faces of dead Presidents are on all our money, they would also be on all the chips used.  A special feature would be the revival of old American gambling favorites like the shell game and five card Monte.  Round and round it goes; where it stops nobody knows: guess where the pile of Lincoln pennies lies–under replicas of the Washington Monument, the White House or the Capitol Dome?

3) Pick the Cabinet Reality Show: Donald Trump made himself a television star with a show in which he picked an apprentice.  If elected he would become our first President to have starred in his own reality show (no snide comments here). Like Trump’s gambling experience this one is too good to be wasted. Here are some clips straight from the show’s website:

See their showdown for who’s running the show.

In the interests of strengthening team A.S.A.P., Mr. Trump makes the call.

Star and Donald disagree on whether it’s better to be smart or tough. (You will have to watch the clip to see what side Trump was on.)

Choosing the cabinet has frankly become a royal pain, plus if your read Doris Kearns Goodwin they never get along with each other. Then there is the well-known fact that a good number of them end up resigning before serving out their terms. Last of all there is Congress.  All of which has resulted in some less-than-stellar choices in recent administrations (take your pick).

So why not let the people decide with a reality show called “Pick the Cabinet.” Nominees for each post would be run through a grueling series of tests and interviews by President Trump. Just like on American Idol each week the American people would get to vote which one gets kicked out.  What could be more democratic than this? Isn’t something like this in the Federalist Papers? Never mind, ask Donald he will know.

If this works for the Cabinet it could be extended to include the nomination of Supreme Court justices, which has become a trial worse than Survival.

4) Mall Plaza: Like the New York block before the Donald built his famous Trump Plaza (now known fittingly as The Trump); the National Mall is looking a little down in the dumps lately. It could use a bit of pizzazz. The country needs money–fast. If you have ever been a tourist in DC you know how hard it is to find a place to stay.  Here again Trump has experience like that of no other previous Presidential candidate. The Trump earns a 4.5 star rating–has any President been that high? Here is what it can offer:

Committed to exceeding your expectations, your every wish is our command. We’ll deliver sophistication without pretension, attention without intrusion, and service without boundaries.

Has any Presidential candidate offered more?

Why shouldn’t the federal government have a share of those lodging and shopping dollars spent by tourists coming to see what the federal government built.

Trump needs to convince Congress to authorize a complete remake of the National Mall with its showcase building being the Mall Plaza, modeled after Trump’s own Trump Plaza.  Where else can you find a deficit proposal that will solve so many problems: 1) rebuilding the mall; 2) bringing additional tourist revenues to the nation’s capitol; 3) enhance the city’s architecture; 4) provide a perfect place for the new royal couple to honeymoon?

5) Advertising: Trump is a genius at advertising–after all why else do we take his candidacy seriously.  We need to apply advertising to a whole range of national and international problems.

Start off with problem number one–America’s international image. It is time to put up a solid defense against all those anti-American slogans, rallies and speeches that seem to pop up in the news at least once a week. The venerable United States Information Agency is just not with it. They are still trying to sell America with techniques older than the Pepsodent slogan.  (If you have never heard of Pepsodent that shows how bad the situation really is). It is time to bring the USIA up to date. Replace all those information people with advertising geniuses. Create a Cabinet post for an Advertiser-in-Chief to coordinate a unified campaign.

Sell advertising at national monuments and parks.  The Washington Monument is looking rather dull these days.  Even a face lift did not really change its appearance–and as well all know people want change.  Trump has a great sense of how to make money from anything, so why not sell advertising along the side of the Washington Monument just like NASCAR does on cars.  Think of what corporations would pay to have their name on the side of one of the world’s most-photographed attractions. Every tourist who took a snapshot would be bringing home an ad.

6) White House Divorce: If Donald Trump has had a lot of marriages he also stands to have a lot of divorces, so along with a White House marriage expect a White House divorce. This would necessitate a rather revolutionary new employment contract should Trump win the election. It would have to specify that the White House cannot be included in any prenuptial agreement, nor can any of its furnishings.  The future first lady would also have to agree not to market herself afterwards as a talk show hostess or celebrity.

7) Hair Styles and Italian Suits for Poverty: Solving the poverty problem has been one of the nation’s issues for generations. It has eluded economists and others determined to solve it. Donald Trump is in part famous because he has a famous hairstyle. Show someone a picture of the Trump head of hair without a face and any American can instantly identify who it is. The last President to have a recognizable hair style was John Kennedy (Reagan fans may disagree with this).

If a haircut can make someone famous–and also rich–doesn’t this hold a lesson for the rest of us? What we need is the right hair.  It is safe to say Donald Trump would not be where he is today without the right hair.  Based on Trump’s yet-to-be-released campaign slogan–“It’s Not About the Right Stuff; It’s About the Right Hair”–this has the makings of the ultimate anti-poverty program. What people on welfare need is not adequate health care or a real job (as opposed to workfare) but the right hairstyle.

Just as the Trump ad program would throw all the information dweebs out of the USIA, the Trump anti-poverty program would get rid of all those social workers and job trainers and replace them with hair stylists. With the right hair job-seekers would leave feeling confident that they, too, can be as successful as Donald Trump.

To supplement this would be a make-over program that would provide each job seeker with an Italian suit (styled for both men and women) personally selected by President Trump himself. This would be much cheaper than the current cost of unemployment benefits–just look up the numbers or ask Donald–he knows what he paid for each of his suits.

8) The Presidential Talk Show: Presidential Press Conferences have become so boring and pointless that the only ones who hear them from start to finish are the reporters who attend.  We just get the soundbites the networks pick out–of course always with one of their reporters asking the questions and not someone from a rival network, or God forbid, a blog. It is time to admit the Presidential Press Conference has become obsolete.

We could substitute something like the British Parliament’s Question Time, but that would require a President who could answer questions off the cuff, some of them rather nasty. Since we have not had a President who could do that for a long time (take your pick as to how long), we need something else.

The problem with the Press Conference is that the format is all wrong. We don’t care about the reporter’s stupid questions, we want to hear what the President has to say. Donald Trump has made a name for himself by appearing anywhere on any show that would have him. Why not also make use of this experience.  In place of the Press Conference we need a Presidential talk show. Ratings have shown talk shows are very popular with the American people (if the cards had fallen right we might have had a Trump-Winfrey race) so this would bring viewers back so the people could actually find out about their government just as they find out about how to deal with divorce, binge eating and hatred for the Yankees.

Each week, Live From the White House would feature President Trump interviewing a panel of selected guests from the oval office itself.  This would be supplemented by tours of the White House just like Jackie Kennedy by the new first lady (that is if she signs the prenuptial that the government owns the rights).

9) The Trump Credit Card: Printing money to solve the deficit has not seemed to solve the problem. While Donald Trump would love to have his face on a $100 bill, there is a better answer–the credit card. Trump already has his own credit card, so he could easily bring this idea to the nation.

As all of us know in this paperless economy the credit card has replaced money as the medium of exchange. We also know that credit card companies are making nice profits, especially since Congress changed the bankruptcy laws. It is time the government got in on this action.

The answer is a national credit card with a picture of you-know-who on it.  Who better to finance consumer over-spending than the biggest debtor on the planet–the federal government? Who has more resources to go after bad debtors than a military that can fire drones right into their houses?

Holders of the Trump credit card would be able to trade in points for miles on any airline in the world due to a nice profit-sharing arrangement with other countries that would sweeten the deal. And who else to swing the deal but the King–whoops, bad word–of the deal makers? This arrangement with foreign airlines would endear us to governments around the world much more than selling them used arms and fighter planes. It might even usher in a new era of international collaboration.

10) Pick Your Own–Donald Trump has so much experience with so many different ventures that it is hard to choose which one of them might fit in as number ten, so I invite you to text your friends and suggest ideas. Comments also welcomed. After all we have to admit these ideas are as good a prediction as any of what would Trump would do in the White House.

Maybe a Trump Presidency is what we need to break the two parties out of this current mess.

 

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TJ | 12th May, 2016

Trumpkins

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Back in the days of long ago when my son played what is known here as traveling basketball, there was a team he played against that carried the nickname “Chopkins.” Virtually every team that played them referred to them that way because they seemed to be deliberately coached to foul constantly. Any guard bringing up the ball could expect to be hacked, bumped, tripped, elbowed and kneed in an attempt to steal the ball. They were particularly adept at a move akin to a karate chop liberally applied to a player’s dribbling hand. Hence the nickname. The strategy was crude, but effective. If they fouled all the time it put the referees in the position of either constantly blowing the whistle or ignoring the chops. What they usually settled for was to call some fouls, but not all. It made coaching and playing against them a nightmare.

Donald Trump is the “Chopkins” of Presidential candidates. Call his strategy Trumpkins. He lies so often and so outrageously that correcting all his “chops” would fill an entire news broadcast or the whole page of a newspaper. So like the refs who had to call games against Chopkins, reporters have chosen to correct some misstatements, but not others. Do a search for Trump and Pinocchio and it will keep you busy for an entire evening or two.

Trump was especially effective at employing the Trumpkins strategy as he laid to waste the weakest field of Presidential contenders in a long time. Forced to deal with Trump’s hacking away at them, his opponents often found themselves using their time to rebut ridiculous lies rather than outline their own agendas. Jeb Bush, in particular, was totally befuddled by the Trumpkins directed at him. Like the basketball players forced to contend with Chopkins, he fumbled the ball a lot.

Now the Trumpkins strategy is about to be directed at Hillary Clinton, who is the presumptive Democratic nominee. If Clinton had trouble with Bernie Sanders, imagine how she will respond to a nonstop deluge of Trump chops and hacks. For those who buy the current poll numbers (which I don’t–but that is food for another essay), think about the impact of Trumpkins. Start with Clinton herself. She has always come off best when she can tell her story; she has traditionally had problems with candidates who engage in personal attacks.

Just as he did in the primaries Trump will campaign under the assumption he is not going to change the minds of hardcore supporters, so why try. That leaves independents. The conventional press wisdom at the beginning of this campaign was that Trumpkins would not work because people would dismiss him as a jerk or a lightweight.

They were wrong, in part because they fell for the strategy just like those youth basketball referees. Like Chopkins, Trumpkins is based on the simple, but effective proposition that sooner or later you will steal the ball. Throw up enough lies and some of them will stick, especially if they go unanswered or the answers sound like technicalities. Enough people believed the lier was someone who “tells it like it is” that they were able to give Trump a string of unexpected victories.

Trumpkins is made for today’s climate when most of the public believes the media and politicians are liars or shills for particular interest groups. In a room full of liars it is often the biggest liar or the one who tells the most lies who wins.

For many of us watching this spectacle, we either conclude Trump is a pathological lier and just turn him off or get angry at the media for letting him get away with it. But there is another group where Trumpkins works. All of us see the world through glasses colored by various ideological and social perceptions. All Trump has to do is to connect with a few of those and we find ourselves saying, “Maybe this guy is on to something.”

If we go back to the sports analogy, Chopkins was a game of averages. If the refs let 25% of the fouls go and a percentage of those uncalled fouls created turnovers, that gave Chopkins anywhere from ten points on up that they did not deserve. With Trumpkins, if 25% of the lies go unchallenged and a percentage of those resonate with undecided voters, that gives him bonus points in the polls.

Add to this what systems thinkers call the infection effect. There is a small model of the dynamics of rumors that I have used to demonstrate how this works. If one Trumpkin tells ten people and the probability of “infecting” a person with the rumor is 10%, then one out of ten becomes a new Trumpkin. Multiply that by a thousand Trumpkins and the number increases dramatically.

Trumpkins is a test of our new social media world in which we listen only to voices like ours and the responsible mainstream media is handcuffed by is own commitment to covering both sides of an issue. That is how Trumpkins performed what people thought could not be done: he turned Faux News audience against its own network. Think about that if you believe Hillary Clinton will walk all over Trump.

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TJ | 1st Feb, 2016

Iowa: The Last Minute

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Although I do not have access to the data and sources I had in predicting Iowa in 2012, I am going to make a few totally off the top of my head predictions based on Iowans I know and have informally polled.

First, Trump will not win and could come in as low as third. Why? The debate boycott hurt. If Trump is afraid to get into the ring with Megyn Kelly, what does that say about his potential to be Commander-in-Chief? How will he handle Angela Merkel or what happens when Putin puts him in a bad light? Iowans like people with grit, people who have the courage to go into the lion’s den, not those who pick and choose their battles. Ratings show the non-Trump debate got the second highest total of all the debates contrary to the Donald’s claim if he did not show the ratings would tank.

Trump does not have the support of Evangelicals who make up a big part of those who turn out on the Republican side. There is no question Trump is a sinner in their eyes, but he has not truly repented. The Falwell endorsement hurt Falwell more than it helped Trump. If you remember 2012 Iowa vaulted Rick Santorum into the picture. Santorum is running again and I expect him to pick up a lot more delegates than is predicted. He will get more than Jeb Bush.

Finally Trump has not visited Iowa that much. From watching the media you would think he has been there all the time, but Iowans know better. His refusal to tour the state widely will be seen as the arrogance that it is.

Second, Hillary Clinton will win, but it will be very close. She could finish with less than a majority of the delegates if the O’Malley people remain viable enough to pull 2% or more of the vote. The telling moment for me with Clinton came in a recent report about her visit to a local bowling alley/cafe. When urged to roll one down the lane Clinton refused. The explanation is she did not want to look stupid. Please…Who out there is afraid to throw a bowling ball? Her bowling ball gaffe is like Trump wimping out of the debate.

Clinton has run her campaign like a basketball team that has a lead in the fourth quarter and starts slowing the game down. Pretty soon the other team makes a run and all of a sudden it’s a game. A last minute spurt or the equivalent of a lucky shot could show that was a bad strategy.

Three Things to Watch:

1. THE STUDENTS: The word is they are largely Sanders supporters, so will they have the grit to stick out a caucus that could drag on for hours especially with the O’Malley supporters trying to stay viable? In the past they have shown they can–in 2008 for Obama and 2004 for Howard Dean. The keys are the college towns like Ames, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids. Sanders need to poll big in these towns. The Clinton people are saying they will send extra voters to the O’Malley groups to make them viable, but I am not sure they will have that luxury.

2. NORTHWEST IOWA: This is probably the most conservative part of the state. Watch both the Trump and Sanders votes here. if the conservative Democrats of this region give Sanders a significant percentage Clinton is in trouble. Trump could fall to third or worse here.

3. DES MOINES AND SUBURBS: This is the biggest, most diverse city in the state. Suburbs like West Des Moines have the highest average income in the state. Clinton will need both the city and the burbs if is she is to win. Both will also be a test for Trump. Where will what amounts to the old Republican establishment go? If Jeb Bush can’t pull double digits here he is done. O’Malley could be a sleeper here, picking up what he has hoped for all along: the anti-Clinton vote that finds Sanders too radical. If O’Malley can pull above 4% here it could throw a wrench into the works no one had expected.

 

 

 

 

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