Tag Archive: Political Discipline


“One hundred and forty characters are suitable to expressing an impulse, but not an argument. It is the rhetorical equivalent of a groan, a shriek, a sneer or a burp. If reason and persuasion are what our politics lacks and needs, Twitter is not the answer.” — Nationally Syndicated Columnist Michael Gerson

At 71-years young, Donald John Trump is the oldest to take the presidential oath of office.

One would suspect a man of his age would be next-to-clueless about social media/digital technology — (remember out-of-touch George H.W. Bush and his amazement about the supermarket scanner?) — but one would be wrong.trump-twitter

Just as FDR used the radio-and-its-widespread-network for his fireside chats; Ronald Reagan five decades later repeatedly went before the cameras to go directly to the people and bypass Congress. Why should we be surprised that Trump is using Twitter to go around the media?

Agenda Setting Theory means that elite media (i.e., NYT, WAPO, ABC, CBS, NBC) pose the topics for the grateful masses to think about. Trump’s Twitter posts are usurping this cherished interpretive media role, and the ladies and gents of the Fourth Estate are not amused.

Have the Nixon days of the “nattering nabobs of negativism” returned with a daily war being waged between the elite media and the White House? Is the media appalled or secretly thrilled to have such an adversary to bring crashing to the earth?spicer

Sean Spicer is the present press secretary for the 45th chief executive. How long will he hold this job? Obama had three press secretaries (i.e., Robert Gibbs, Jay Carney, Josh Earnest) during the span of eight years. Almost DailyBrett will take the over on the question of whether this president will have three-or-more press secretaries.

One of the daily problems facing Spicer is pleasing his insatiable boss, while at the same time not getting eaten alive by the piranha covering the White House. Serving as press secretary may ultimately be rewarding in the form of a best-selling, tell-all book, but for now it is most likely the supreme thankless job on the planet.

Digital Is Eternal

“Are you insinuating that I am a purveyor of terminological inexactitudes?” – Winston Churchill

As California Governor George Deukmejian’s press secretary (1987-1989), the author of Almost DailyBrett never worried about whereabouts his my boss (e.g., the governor went home to Gloria, the kids and the beagles). Your author was never concerned about what he was going to say in response to media questions (e.g., The Duke’s political judgment was superb/his message consistency was outstanding), and what he did at night … presumably he slept soundly.

Spicer and the Trump communication team always need to worry about political judgment/discipline, and particularly what the energizer-bunny president is doing at 3 am … namely his love affair with Twitter’s 140-characters.trumptwitterhillary

Are the Trump communicators tempted to program their smart phones to send S-O-S signals every time the boss fires off another tweet? Heck, sleep is way overrated anyway. Think of it this way, when a POTUS tweet is sent from God’s time zone (EST), it is already 8 am in London, 9 am in Berlin and 11 am in Moscow.

For the media on presidential “death watch” (those who must stay up in the White House briefing room as the president ostensibly sleeps), they now have something to do: Monitor the POTUS Twitter account.

Is there any way to mitigate and moderate what The Donald decides to tweet, save being in the president’s living quarters at 3 am (EST)? Would he listen to his communication pros anyway? The hardest part of the job for Trump’s  press secretary may be responding to wire service calls at all hours of the morning to add color to a tweet that he saw at the same time as the reporters.

Some of the 140-missives may make perfect sense and will be consistent with the policies and the programs of the administration. Others … well, they could be about almost anything including inaugural crowd sizes or “alternative facts.”

Considering the government’s record of telling the truth has been less than stellar over the decades (e.g., LBJ’s “Credibility Gap” during Vietnam, Nixon’s “I am not a crook,” and Jody Powell’s “Right to Lie” during the Iran hostage crisis), are we surprised an administration is resorting to terminological inexactitudes?

What is breathtaking is the number in the first week alone, but more noticeable is the speed, namely through 140-characters or less Twitter.

How many tweets will POTUS fire off its cyberspace in four years or maybe eight years? Will there be any political-and-editorial discipline imposed?

Don’t count on it.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-a-tweeting-president-is-so-bad-for-our-politics/2017/01/26/9a6892a8-e3f0-11e6-a453-19ec4b3d09ba_story.html?utm_term=.06b7a51ec1ce&wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

http://uspolitics.about.com/od/presidenc1/tp/List-Of-Obama-Press-Secretaries.htm

http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/33875.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/the-right-to-lie/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/the-other-side-of-the-story/

 

 

 

 

“ … Hillary believes that it’s vital to deceive the people by having one public policy and a totally different policy in private. … For example, here she is tonight, in public, pretending not to hate Catholics.” – Donald Trump drawing boos at the Al Smith charity dinner

trumphillarysmith

 

Ronald Reagan turned over in his grave with that nasty remark.

Putting partisan politics to the side (if that’s still possible), The Great Communicator clearly understood and practiced the discipline of knowing, appreciating and respecting your audience.

In many ways the answer is just so simple: The Five W’s and One H of Journalism:

What does the audience expect?

When is the event?

Where is the venue?

Who is attending?

Why is the occasion important?

How will you appreciate and respect your audience?

There was Reagan’s solemn 1984 speech at the cliffs of Normandy on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of D-Day.

There was his 1987 “Mr Gorbachev tear down this wall” address in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate.

There was “There you go again” quip to Jimmy Carter in the most watched presidential debate (up-to-this-year) in American history in 1980.

And there was his farewell address to the nation as he was departing the White House in 1989.

The Normandy and Farewell speeches were not overtly political. It would have been wrong in both cases to write and deliver a stem-winder in either of these venues. The media and pundit reaction would be justifiably critical, if The Gipper had misused these settings and occasions.

The Berlin Wall speech and the Cleveland debate were both political in nature. They both offered the opportunity to score political points at the expense of the leader of the Soviet Union and the 39th president of the United States.

As Harry Truman once said: “If you need a friend in Washington, D.C., get a dog.”

As Mary Matalin once said: “Politics is a contact sport.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan Serving As Referee

Al Smith was the first Roman Catholic to earn a presidential nomination, losing to Republican Herbert Hoover in 1928. Since 1945, the New York Archdiocese has sponsored an annual white-tie dinner at the stately Waldorf Astoria in his honor and to benefit Catholic charities.

Even though the two parties’ respective nominees have attended this fundraising dinner since John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960, the audience expects and wants satirical/self-deprecating humor from the candidates. That tradition remained intact until this past Thursday night.

Less than 24 hours after the two combatants refused to shake hands twice at the final Clinton vs. Trump debate, Cardinal Dolan knew that he would have to serve as a buffer sitting in between Hillary and The Donald, who quite obviously loathe each other.

Nonetheless, the expectations for the speeches from the two candidates were still there. The public relations/reputation management task for each nominee and their respective staffers was to prepare and deliver remarks that demonstrate knowledge, appreciation and respect for the audience.trumpsmith

Sadly that discipline was not there, particularly for Donald Trump.

Why did he think even for a nanosecond that stating that Hillary was “so corrupt” before a mixed-audience was going to meet the standards of the evening?

Worse The Donald’s remarks about Hillary pretending to not hate Catholics in a room in which literally dozens had been schooled with the Baltimore Catechism drew the boos and catcalls they deserved.

Among the litany of problems associated with Trump’s campaign, one of the most basic is a total lack of political discipline. He obviously does not listen to his advisors, who know political campaigns and how to set and respond to audience expectations.

Two GOP standard bearers could not be more different: Ronald Reagan was a model of political discipline and simplicity of message. Donald Trump cannot and will not maintain political discipline, and Hillary knows it.

More importantly, the nation knows The Donald does not have the temperament to deliver audience-specific remarks, let alone be trusted with access to our nuclear codes.

The expectations are that Hillary will become the 45th chief executive of the United States and the first president who happens to be a woman, when the polls in California, Oregon and Washington close at 11 pm EST. 8 pm PST on November 8.

Almost DailyBrett will boldly predict: Hillary will be elected one hour earlier when Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona … and maybe even Utah (gasp) are recorded in the blue column … if not sooner. This is a wave election in which Hillary will receive the better part of 400 electoral votes, if not more.

Will The Donald wake up on November 9 and realize that he did not even attempt for a nanosecond during the past 17 months to know, appreciate and respect his audiences?

Forget it. He didn’t listen to any wisdom when it mattered. And he certainly won’t accept any guidance when it doesn’t matter anymore.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/21/us/politics/al-smith-dinner-clinton-trump.html?_r=0

http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/20/politics/al-smith-catholic-dinner-memorable-lines-hillary-clinton-donald-trump/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/20/the-very-bad-jokes-hillary-clinton-and-donald-trump-told-at-the-al-smith-dinner/?wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_E._Smith_Memorial_Foundation_Dinner

 

 

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