Category Archives: Democratic vs. Republican Presidents

The great Republican hoodwink

Donald Trump on the golf course, again

Donald Trump‘s approval numbers — as low as 32 percent — are the worst ever for a president at this point in his term. Likewise,  Trump’s handling of the hurricanes this season dropped 20 points to just 44 percent after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and, instead of focusing on helping the people there (who are Americans), Trump took to the golf course and then criticized them. What’s amazing, though, is that Trump’s approval among Republicans is quite high. Why the disconnect?

Instead of getting distracted, drive the narrative

 

Puerto Rico devastation from Hurricane Maria

Back in February 2011, we published Messaging Maxim #1: Go On Offense. Perhaps some folks need a refresher course. In that post, we wrote, “If you’re fighting a political battle on the other side’s rhetorical turf, you’ve already lost.” At the time, such advice was referring to phony cultural issues like “Ground Zero Mosque” and “is President Obama a Muslim?” that Republicans had ginned up and repeated everywhere they could (see Messaging Maxim #2: Rinse and Repeat). With their herd mentality, the mainstream media then picked up these issues and focused their broadcasts, cablecasts and column space on them.

Fast forward to today. Donald Trump and the Republicans are doing the same thing again, and it’s working. Currently, the phony cultural issues are: “Kneeling NFL Players” and “Harvey Weinstein.” To those, you can add, “NBC and CNN Licenses.” By next week, expect different cultural issues.

Donald Trump, the Great Divider

Armed white supremacist in Charlottesville, VA

Successful presidents of both political parties are usually the ones who, in times of crisis or difficulty, rise above partisanship and unite America. There are many examples of this, from Abraham Lincoln literally keeping the Union together, to Franklin Roosevelt leading us against Germany and Japan in World War 2, to Ronald Reagan eulogizing the Challenger Space Shuttle astronauts or calling upon Soviet head of state Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down” the Berlin Wall, Bill Clinton soothing a shocked America after the Oklahoma City bombing, George W. Bush standing with firefighters at the World Trade Center site after the 9/11 attacks, and Barack Obama successfully hunting down and killing Osama bin Laden. We may not agree with the policies these presidents pursue after such crises (for example, Bush’s Iraq War), but at least for a time, these leaders make us feel like we’re part of one big, strong nation.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with Donald Trump. Rather than being a Great Uniter, he has repeatedly proven himself to be the Great Divider, usually along racial and ethnic lines. Indeed, Trump essentially begun his presidential run during Barack Obama’s presidency by being one of the head cheerleaders in the “birther” movement, which questioned Obama’s Americanism and his birth certificate. Trump then ran his own presidential campaign in a divisive manner from the get-go, saying in his presidential announcement speech about Mexican immigrants:

They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.

From there, Trump has pitted one group (often his base of white males) against another, including the following partial list:

The sad, selfish argument against healthcare

Senate GOP Healthcare bill

In the current debate over Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, one of the saddest arguments to be heard is the one that goes, “why should I pay for someone else’s healthcare?” Such an argument gets many things wrong at once, both intellectually and morally.

First, the entire concept of insurance is a pooling of funds and risk, so that everyone is literally paying for someone else, and vice versa. For example, in South Florida, one is told that car insurance rates are high for all residents because there are many claims due to the large number of tourists getting into trouble with rental cars on unfamiliar roads. Many local residents would rightfully object to paying higher rates for others’ accidents, but that is how insurance works. The idea, however, is that costs are kept down by pooling the risk, for example, such that middle-aged drivers might pay more than they get back in claims, but when they are both very young and very old, they are much more likely to have more claims, so the system balances out. Similarly, the Affordable Care Act (based on a conservative idea from the Heritage Foundation and first implemented by Republican Governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts) incorporates premiums paid by younger people, who generally have fewer claims, going more to older and sicker people, but such young people of course could get into a serious accident or become sick themselves any time, plus they are likely to have more claims as they age. Thus, the idea of “why am I paying for someone else?” may only be true for a brief moment.

Social media coverage of Hurricane Harvey brings Americans together

Driver receives assistance in Pearland, TX during Hurricane Harvey

This past weekend, Twitter and Facebook posts about the Mayweather-McGregor fight gave way to posts about Hurricane Harvey making landfall in Texas, and causing tremendous flooding devastation. Since then, as more traditional media such as broadcast and cable TV news are making admirable efforts on the scene with live reporting (and even some rescue work), social media users are sending around gobs of information, donation and volunteering tips, and rescue requests. Here are some of the highlights of social media activity in Houston, around the U.S. and in other countries as well:

How to talk to your Republican friends about Donald Trump

Donald Trump: If it does not fit, you must quit

There’s no sport in bashing Donald Trump nowadays. At least once a week, and sometimes once per day, Trump does or says something so shocking, insensitive or stupid that we just can’t believe it. The most recent shocker was Trump’s impromptu press conference days after the tragic pro-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that included a terrorist attack, where Trump blamed “many sides,” and said there were “fine people” on the pro-Nazi side. Eventually, we come to expect more such behavior from Trump.

It’s therefore easy for Donald Trump’s critics to bond with one another and trade attacks on Trump. But what if you have friends who are Republicans and Trump supporters? What can you say to them without wrecking the friendship? I have come up with the following statement that just might do the trick, and maybe even make your friends think twice about their support for Trump:

Donald Trump and the Nazis

Anti-Nazi demonstration in Pittsburgh in solidarity with Charlottesville victims

The latest tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia can be laid at the doorstep of Donald Trump‘s White House. After a terrorist attack by a white supremacist at a neo-Nazi rally that left one counter-protester, Heather Heyer, dead and multiple people wounded (two Virginia state troopers were also killed when their helicopter crashed on the way to the scene), Trump could not condemn the right wing hate. Instead, shockingly, he said:

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides.

Obviously, there are not “many sides” to the white supremacist hate on parade in Charlottesville. There were the bigoted haters, some of them armed, and the people who came out to protest against them. The terrorist, James Fields, even chose the same method of driving a vehicle into a crowd of civilians as is used in other terrorist incidents. Even web hosting company GoDaddy has dumped white supremacist website the Daily Stormer, after the site posted a vicious attack on Heather Heyer which followed its promotion of the Charlottesville rally.

Trump spokesman gives up on Liberty

The Statue of Liberty, gateway for many American immigrants.

On Wednesday, Donald Trump‘s senior policy advisor Stephen Miller had a shocking exchange with a reporter in the White House Press Room, regarding Trump’s immigration policy.

Miller spoke about a Republican proposal co-authored by Trump White House officials which would reduce legal immigration into the United States by about half in the next 10 years, and favor English-speaking immigrants and skilled workers. CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta then asked about the change this would mean for America. Acosta quoted “The New Colossus,” the poem which adorns the Statue of Liberty, asking:

The Statue of Liberty says, “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” It doesn’t say anything about speaking English or being able to be a computer programmer. Aren’t you trying to change what it means to be an immigrant coming into this country if you’re telling them, you have to speak English? Can’t people learn how to speak English when they get here?

Miller responded by saying “the poem that you’re referring to was added later, is not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty.”

Republicans find out they have nowhere to hide

GOP Health Plan

On Monday night and Tuesday, the latest Republican Senate scheme to repeal the Affordable Care Act but not replace it for two years, went down in flames. Republican Senators including Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Shelley Moore Capito came out against moving the plan forward in the Senate, effectively killing this version for now.

Republicans are learning a powerful lesson: the obstructionism that worked for them when they did not control all three branches of government does not work when they do.

Republicans’ empty statements of concern towards Trump

Trump/Putin relationship, subject of Republican criticism

The last six months or more have been marked by a procession of statements of concern and criticism from many leading Republicans towards Donald Trump. For example, U.S. Senator John McCain has said that scandals within the Trump White House are reaching “Watergate size and scale.” Likewise, McCain’s cohort U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said of Trump this past weekend:

When it comes to Russia, he’s got a blind spot, and to forgive and forget when it comes to Putin regarding cyber attacks is to empower Putin, and that’s exactly what he’s doing.

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, a rising Republican Party star, also trashed Trump’s idea of forming “an impenetrable Cyber Security unit” with Vladimir Putin: