Republicans pummeled by two hurricanes

President George W. Bush's "Brownie" moment, Sept. 2, 2005

President George W. Bush’s “Brownie” moment, Sept. 2, 2005

The anniversaries of Hurricane Katrina (landfall in Louisiana August 29, 2005) and Hurricane (Superstorm) Sandy (landfall in New Jersey August 29, 2012) represent a perfect storm that continues to damage the Republican Party. Katrina showed President George W. Bush‘s detachment, and the criminally negligent incompetence behind his administration’s hands-off conservative Republican governing philosophy (“Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”) Sandy is said to have helped President Barack Obama win and the Democrats do well in the 2012 elections, but that’s only true if one rejects the Republicans’ “government is bad” frame and accepts the Democrats’ “good government” philosophy. Apparently, many Americans have done just that.

Obama White House intensifies messaging on Iran deal

Demonstration against war with Iran, U.S. Capitol

Demonstration against war with Iran, U.S. Capitol

President Barack Obama is undertaking an intense effort to sell his deal to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. On Tuesday, White House officials reached out to progressive voters on a joint conference call with Keystone Progress, which is “Pennsylvania’s largest online progressive action network.” Keystone’s executive director, Michael Morrill, was on the call, as well as Mary  Kaszynski, the Communications Manager for Ploughshares Fund, which supports efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons and threats. They were joined by John Bisognano, the White House Associate Director of Public Engagement, and Marie Harf, Senior Advisor to Secretary of State John Kerry.

Trump the builder, Trump the destroyer

Time magazine's latest Donald Trump cover

Time magazine’s latest Donald Trump cover

It seems like there are two Donald Trumps. New Yorkers came to know Trump beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Trump took on massive building projects, as well as massive city and state bureaucracies, and usually succeeded. This includes building the Trump Tower; renovating the old Commodore Hotel next to Grand Central Station and turning it into the black-glassed Grand Hyatt; and rebuilding the Wollman ice skating rink in Central Park after New York City officials failed for years to accomplish the task. Trump also navigated strict New Jersey licensing requirements to build casinos in Atlantic City. Moreover, long before Donald Trump became a politician, in taking on all the challenges of these building projects, Trump loved to criticize politicians.

Iowa Fair

Trump copter

Trump helicopter

One advantage of America’s long presidential campaign is that, eventually, each candidate’s character, intelligence and fitness to be president (or lack thereof) emerges. That process is currently on display at the Iowa State Fair. Thanks to C-SPAN, we can see and hear the candidates in Iowa, in long form.

Donald Trump showed up in his TRUMP-badged helicopter. No stranger to branding, Trump spoke with his helicopter in the background, a symbol of power and status similar to a president standing in front of Air Force One. In a bright red hat with his slogan “Make America Great Again,” Trump aggressively addressed or swatted away reporters’ questions, attacking his rivals, especially John Ellis Bush, in the process. Then Trump handed out helicopter rides to local kids and their moms, posing for selfies. Trump may know more about what the American people want than anybody in this presidential race.

Trump, Bernie and the entertainment campaign of 2016

Protesters disrupt Bernie Sanders event in Seattle, WA

Protesters disrupt Bernie Sanders event in Seattle, WA

Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton. A presidential race between two dynastic candidates, focused on sharp policy differences. That’s the campaign we were supposed to get. Instead, as of August 2015, we are getting the Entertainment Campaign featuring sideshow issues involving Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Maybe it’s the presidential campaign we should have expected.

Donald Trump falls to Earth in GOP debate

Donald Trump, focus of first GOP debate

Donald Trump, focus of first GOP debate

Most of the chatter before last night’s Republican Party presidential primary debate in Cleveland, Ohio was about Donald Trump: What would Trump say? How would Trump do? How would the other candidates react to Trump? It turned out, though, that Donald Trump was attacked more by the Fox News debate moderators than by his competitors.

Fox’s Megyn Kelly asked Trump about his characterization of some women as “fat pigs,” “dogs,” “slobs” and “disgusting animals.” Kelly even invoked the Democratic phrase “War On Women,” something Republicans try not to mention since it puts them on the defensive. Trump replied that these labels were reserved for Rosie O’Donnell, although Kelly pointed out that they go well beyond O’Donnell. Trump was also asked about his companies’ four bankruptcies, and his answer, like many of his other answers, revealed a blunt, brutal honesty that, while maybe great for a corporate CEO, comes off as unseemly for a politician. Trump said that he had taken advantage of laws in place, and that “everybody else” in his position has done the same thing.

Huckabee and Christie help Trump tear down the GOP

 Donald Trump, GOP destroyer


Donald Trump, GOP destroyer

First it was Donald Trump destroying the Republican Party brand by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists,” denigrating John McCain‘s military service and calling  a female professional who had to pump breast milk for her baby “disgusting.” But as Trump has surged in GOP polls and sucked all the air out of the room, other Republican presidential candidates have had to scramble for attention. Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham pulled stunts involving chain saws, fire and baseball bats. But Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie apparently have decided the best way to compete with Trump is to out-Trump Trump in making outrageous statements.

CNN blows it again on Obama Kenya trip

Kenyan ambassador Amina Mohamed, July 24, 2015

Kenyan ambassador Amina Mohamed, July 24, 2015

Fresh off its “dildo flag” fiasco, CNN once again has lost its journalistic marbles. Once again, the subject is terrorism, and once again CNN has made a wild, unfounded claim on air, this time regarding President Barack Obama‘s trip to Kenya. And once again, CNN’s terrorism frenzy involves anchor Suzanne (pronounced SuzONNE) Malveaux.

This time, as President Obama was embarking on his historical trip to Kenya, CNN went with hysterical rather than historical, calling Kenya “a hotbed of terror.” CNN even had former Obama Secret Service agent Jonathan Wackrow on to state:

People have been anticipating this trip since the day that he [Obama] was first elected. So the people that want to hurt the president, you know, have been planning for the last seven years for this trip.

Huffington Post’s boneheaded decision on Donald Trump

Donald Trump with his version of the White House

Donald Trump with his version of the White House

The Huffington Post published a notice last Friday stating that, from now on, it will cover Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign under its Entertainment section rather than under Politics or News. According to the notice from Huffington Post Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim and its Editorial Director Danny Shea:

Our reason is simple: Trump’s campaign is a sideshow. We won’t take the bait. If you are interested in what The Donald has to say, you’ll find it next to our stories on the Kardashians and The Bachelorette.

Not surprisingly, Trump’s campaign fired back at the Huffington Post, saying:

The only clown show in this scenario is the Huffington Post pretending to be a legitimate news source. Mr. Trump is not focused on being covered by a glorified blog. He is focused on Making America Great Again.

In fact, the Huffington Post’s decision to dump Trump from its political coverage is completely arbitrary, and is a huge mistake.

How to avoid relationship-killing political arguments

Argument at Occupy Wall Street 2011

Occupy Wall Street 2011

At Messaging Matters, we have spent more than four years trying to help people engage in and win political arguments and policy battles, for example, by identifying loaded talking points and phony phrases used by conservatives. However, we keep hearing from friends who have seen relationships, friendships and even family ties come to an unpleasant end due to political arguments. Often, these arguments take place in social media like Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes, the argument and subsequent ending of the relationship happens in just a few minutes, after several angry message exchanges. But what if you value your friendships and relationships, and don’t want to lose them over political differences? Here are several tips that you can use to preserve your relationships — and your sanity — in these politically charged, social media-fed times: