Category Archives: Republican Messaging

The Democrats and the power of Why

Democratic Scrabble

Much has been written about the Democratic Party’s new economic theme which it unveiled in July. This new theme is called “A Better Deal.” Unfortunately, a lot of the feedback for the Democrats over their new messaging has been negative. Much of the criticism centers around the fact that “A Better Deal” is not an organic, positive slogan or underlying message, but rather a comparison to Donald Trump and the Republicans. Indeed, the terminology plays off of Trump’s first and most famous book, “The Art of the Deal,” as well as Trump’s frequent use of the word “deal” in both business and political situations. There is a reason why we came up with Messaging Maxim #8: Don’t use the other side’s labels. Doing so is like playing on the other team’s field, with the other team’s rules. It gives your opponents an advantage and has an air of “me too” desperation. Why couldn’t the Democrats come up with their own, more original and inspiring theme?

The solution may lie in what’s called “the Power of Why.”

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.”

Don’t celebrate John McCain’s No vote on healthcare just yet

Sen. John McCain and his favorite prop, the microphone

People are still celebrating Senator John McCain‘s “No” vote on the Republicans’ “Skinny Repeal” bill regarding the Affordable Care Act. Such celebrations may be premature.

Recall that, last Tuesday, during a procedural vote to move the GOP bill forward, McCain first criticized the process, then voted “Yes” to proceed to a full vote. Many Democrats attacked McCain as a heartless hypocrite for voting to move a bill forward that would deny healthcare to millions of people when McCain himself is receiving gold-plated healthcare for his brain cancer at taxpayer expense. Three days later, however, McCain cast one of three Republican votes against the bill, sending it to defeat. McCain’s dramatic “thumbs down” accompanying his “No” vote caused many observers to cast McCain as the “deciding vote,” although Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski were just as courageous in standing up to their party to vote “No.”

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:

James Comey’s description of Trump akin to a Mafia Don

James Comey’s attitude before Congress today

Today, former FBI Director James Comey gave his anxiously-awaited testimony before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence since Donald Trump fired him in May. Comey’s testimony, including his written statement that was released yesterday, was stunning in several respects, from the circumstances of his firing, to the Mafia-like treatment Comey says  Trump gave him regarding the ongoing investigation of former Trump National Security Advisor (and Trump presidential campaign official) Michael Flynn over Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials. Even people who were hyping Comey’s upcoming testimony in advance were perhaps surprised at some of what Comey said about Trump, including that Trump is lying about several Trump/Russia matters.

Donald Trump’s war with the press

White House protest the day after FBI Director James Comey was fired

White House protest the day after FBI Director James Comey was fired

After a disastrous week for Donald Trump and his White House, with ever-changing stories about Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, Trump tweeted on Friday that he may discontinue White House daily press briefings. This follows a series of disturbing incidents exhibiting shabby Trump administration treatment of the national news media, including:

  • Banning The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, Politico, BuzzFeed, the BBC and the Guardian from press briefings.
  • Ejecting Andrea Mitchell of NBC News from State Department events where she tried to ask questions.
  • Repeatedly referring to the mainstream news media as “fake news” whenever they report on real stories that are unflattering to the Trump administration, especially the investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.
  • Having a reporter arrested after he asked questions at Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price at the West Virginia state Capitol.
  • Cutting off veteran reporter April Ryan, who is a black woman, and telling her, “stop shaking your head” while she was asking a question in the White House Press Room.

Republicans shockingly partisan at Sally Yates Russia hearing

Sally Yates, then Deputy Attorney General, in 2016

Sally Yates, then Deputy Attorney General, in 2016

Republicans in Congress perhaps exceeded even their own partisan reputation at yesterday’s hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism entitled “Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election.” The hearing featured Sally Yates, who was Acting Attorney General in the Trump administration until she was fired on January 30 of this year. Also appearing at the hearing was former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Each of these witnesses has decades of experience serving in the government under presidents of both parties, and both have knowledge about Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections. For example, both witnesses know about Michael Flynn, a campaign advisor and then National Security Advisor under Donald Trump for just a few weeks, until February 13. Flynn, a principal subject of the hearing, was fired after the Washington Post reported that he lied about his telephone calls with Russian officials, including Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, where the two discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia for interfering in the U.S. election that had just taken place. Yates testified at yesterday’s hearing that, in January of this year, she had urgent meetings and calls with Trump White House attorneys about Flynn, and that she recommended that action be taken regarding Flynn, because he was causing Vice President Mike Pence to lie to the American people about Flynn’s discussions with the Russians, and because Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail from Russia over his lies.

However, many of the Republican Senators on the panel did not seem to want to know about Russian involvement in our election. Instead, they criticized the “leaks” that led to the disclosure of Flynn’s activities, as well as the “unmasking” of Flynn. Part of what is shocking about the Republicans’ behavior at the hearing is that, had Flynn not been identified, he might still be National Security Advisor and would still be, as Yates explained, compromised by Russia.

Democrats bust Trump on first 100 days of failure

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer flanked by fellow Democratic Senators

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer flanked by fellow Democratic Senators

Congressional Democrats, led by U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, held a press conference Friday morning to highlight Donald Trump‘s first 100 days of failure and broken promises. The Democrats, who have held similar events during the past week on different subjects, focused on Friday on Trump’s preliminary federal budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018, which his White House released in March, and for which negotiations are now heating up. Of particular note by the Democrats is Trump’s failure to deliver on his biggest campaign promises, including the border wall and repeal of the Affordable Care Act.