President Trump has made several moves in recent days that have the potential to provide him his first real political momentum in months. However, to create that momentum requires the right messaging.
Good messaging can put lipstick on a pig; subpar messaging can make a supermodel look ordinary; and bad messaging makes you the political equivalent of “hold my beer.” Right now, subpar messaging for the Trump White House would be an upgrade.
Granted, attempting to successfully message a persona like President Trump requires one to essentially be the Navy SEALS of communications, but I’m about to give it the old college try.
See — contrary to what Trump’s staunchest supporters believe — the Trump White House is neither besieged by the Left’s zealous pursuit of alleged Russian collusion, nor conservatives on the Right who refuse to genuflect to him. Rather, the Trump White House is besieged because it has chosen to fight both of these battles, at the same time.
You would think someone of Trump’s autocratic personality would know his Napoleon, and heed his famous warning to “never fight a two-front war.” Team Trump needs to do what it can to cease hostilities on one of those fronts, or it will eventually lose them both. And in the past week, by the president’s own actions, they may have a chance to do exactly that for the first time.
This would be my focus right now if I were Trump’s communications director.
There is probably nothing the president can do to stop the Russian investigations (though he could certainly stop feeding them ammo, as he did by going Colonel Jessup on NBC News recently and owning up to ordering the Code Red on James Comey).
However, even if Trump didn’t feed the beast, it would likely ravage on to some extent. For the Left is basically out of ideas that haven’t already been tried and failed, and still so devoid of leadership that even failed candidates like Hillary Clinton can commandeer headlines whenever they wish. Thus, Russia is liberals’ best (only?) play at the moment. That leaves pacifying conservatives.
Except conservatives as a whole can’t really be pacified, and “Dear Leader” attempts to prove otherwise will accomplish nothing but causing them to dig in their heels all the more. For when you tell conservatives you are owed their tribute (as opposed to earning their allegiance), you confirm their suspicions.
I know this, because I am one of those skeptical conservatives.
Folks like me are simply never gonna go out there and defend what we view as indefensible — regardless of how many social media followers and how much site traffic it costs us.
All of the people in this for a seat at the table? Trump has already. My former Salem colleague, Dennis Prager, whom I have immense respect for, is correct that too many of conservatism’s brightest minds are sitting this out. Where I respectfully disagree with him is in the approach to woo them.
Just because we’re never gonna defend the indefensible doesn’t mean we want the Left to win. That’s false, binary choice idolatry talking. What people like me are looking for are reasons to support someone — not merely “better than the people who represent the ideology out to Cloward-Piven American exceptionalism.”
This week, the Trump White House let it be known it plans on ending Obamacare’s war on conscience, and it’s pulling us out of the job-killing global warming scam. These two moves come on the heels of Trump’s widely acclaimed Saudi Arabia speech, in which a U.S. president finally put the onus on the Muslim world to police Islam. And he did so to their faces.
Those are three important reasons to convince more conservatives, like myself, to engage. And not just to look like the ridiculous harem Trump had on CNN all of last year (who were basically Tariq Aziz with mascara), but to say this:
Trump may be an imperfect vessel, and we don’t agree all the time and speak up when that happens, but these policy decisions are what’s best for the American people and we support them. Because in the end this really isn’t about Trump, or the media, or Never Trump, or the Left. Most Americans don’t care about any of that. They just want the American Dream there for their kids as it was for them.
In the last election the American people sent a resounding message: do what’s best for us. These decisions are exactly that, which is why we support them. As the president said, he was ‘elected by the people of Pittsburgh not Paris.’ Amen to that. It is time to put America first, so we are a strong enough nation to be the world’s beacon of liberty once more.
And when the president lives up to his campaign promises to prioritize the best interests of the American people, as he did here, we wholeheartedly want to support and encourage that. For he has earned our support, and isn’t that what we ask for from all our politicians?
Loyalty demands from Trump loyalists give Trump skeptics an out. That’s so disdainful it never culls the herd from those whom Trump could never win over even if he became the second coming of Calvin Coolidge, and those who would put their reservations aside if there was enough policy substance to justify it.
The former group is louder, but smaller. The latter group I believe is the larger group, though it won’t be mobilized by simply a message as much as a message based on action. I can’t speak for all of us, but I believe we’re anxious to join the existential fight — just not for a general we fear will turn on us and our values to serve his own interests.
Yet, if President Trump is willing to continue fighting for our values, as he’s done the past week, we are far more likely to fight with (not for) him.