Entry into Campaigns

election

Presidential candidates like to prolong their entry into campaigns, and it’s not just for the Federal Elections Commission and/or monetary considerations. It builds suspense among the public and creates an atmosphere where people can plead for their candidacy.

The creation of a movement demands fervent followers, and the best campaigns are built from the ground up. Politicians, at least the successful ones, understand this dynamic and exploit it shamelessly. Do you really think it takes two months for them to decide what to do after they’ve been building for this moment their entire careers?

… with the cover of his “day job,” Biden can stay in the public spotlight and let the clamor for his candidacy run its course.

Such is indisputably the case with Joe Biden. Biden knows Hillary Clinton will be covered by the dark cloud of scandal, whether the facts merit it or not. And whatever might be going on behind the scenes, he still has time to build demand among the general public. Moreover, with the cover of his “day job,” Biden can stay in the public spotlight and let the clamor for his candidacy run its course.

After evaluating the groundswell for his candidacy, Biden can determine whether the path to the White House holds a realistic chance of success before leaping into the fray. Such is the best and most time-tested practice. Meanwhile, Hillary can only push forward and hope.

Gung Ho for Guns?

soldier

Guns provide an illusion of security, and it is this illusion that has captured large swathes of the Republican Party. Owning a gun isn’t about hunting or a way of life, no matter how much the proponents claim. It is about defending your domicile in the face of an oppressive government.

That’s why gun ownership is an illusion. You can’t defend your home against a modern military with tanks, artillery and planes. No matter how much you cling to your property, in the face of even a third-world country, you are bound to lose.

… gun ownership is an illusion.

Look at how the Israelites were able to decimate buildings in the Gaza Strip, for example. That’s not to take sides in the conflict, but the Israeli military handily won the conflict, even when faced with armed soldiers in opposition. The idea that one person with a weapon can oppose a modern military is fantasy at best, and more likely delusional.

Meanwhile, guns create all sorts of havoc. The number of accidental shootings in households owning a gun suggests that we need to get some kind of handle on the situation. Even something like “trigger locks” would represent a common-sense protection.

Guns also enable successful suicides. The problem with guns and suicide is that they are largely successful. So too for murder and mass shootings. The sooner that people get a realistic view of the pluses and minuses of gun ownership the better.

Political Albatrosses

 

political-flag

A political albatross can be described as a negative event or statement that won’t go away and ends up affecting campaign results. Mitt Romney’s description of 47 percent of the electorate as “takers” didn’t go away, no matter how much he attempted to explain it. Same for his policy of “self-deportation.”

Political albatrosses have already affected the 2016 contest. It’s hard to imagine the email server scandal ever disappearing from the Hillary Clinton campaign. Maybe, she will explain it more effectively or even start to impact the race with some of her policies. But the event will continue to affect the view of the American people about whether or not she is trustworthy.

A political albatross can be described as a negative event or statement that won’t go away …

Perhaps, that’s one reason why Vice President Biden is considering his entry into the race. It’s difficult for Democrats to put all their eggs in one basket, especially if additional developments occur. Electing a Democratic President is essential to cement President Obama’s achievements, especially Obamacare and the agreement with Iran.

It’s uncertain whether Donald Trump represents a political albatross for the Republican Party. His flexibility and charisma, as well as the anger of the American voter, could carry him a long way, perhaps all the way to the White House. If he doesn’t make it, he could doom anyone who takes up the mantle in his place.

The Nature of a Hero

superman

Three unknown Americans improved the relationship between our country and France more than a score of diplomats. The action of two military servicemen and their friend foiled the attempt of an Islamic terrorist to carry out a massacre on a train speeding from Amsterdam to Paris. Each American was a hero in his own special way.

The lone wolf Islamic terrorist was about to spray the train with an AK-47 when that familiar American refrain, “Let’s go” (variation on 9/11’s Let’s roll), spurred three Americans to move forward in the face of possible gunfire to tackle the terrorist, hit him until unconscious and then tie him up.

Three unknown Americans improved the relationship between our country and France more than a score of diplomats.

The Americans, Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos, were textbook heroes and were treated as such, appearing before the President of France to receive the distinguished Legion of Honor award. And like a true hero, they displayed the typical humility of the profession, downplaying their deeds and calling them “an act of survival.”

At a time when our sports legends lie and cheat, and our politicians seem even more questionable, it is refreshing to see the selflessness promulgated by our culture as a model for today’s youth. Their actions seemed even more predestined when they described their decision to move to another car because of poor wi-fi. That placed them directly in the terrorist’s path, and they acted accordingly.

It’s a rare piece of good news for our country that has been beset with such turmoil in foreign and domestic affairs.

Sanders Versus Trump

megaphone2

Not to engage in a fantasy, but how would the American people react to a general election with Bernie Sanders representing the Democrats and Donald Trump the Republicans.

It’s not as wild as it seems: Mr. Trump is leading the Republican pack by double digits, and Mr. Sanders is becoming a bona fide contender against Hillary Clinton. And many pundits have mused upon this very possible match-up.

If either one of them could become just a little more like the other, they would be the perfect candidate.

There are some striking similarities among the two men: both are drawing large and enthusiastic crowds; both are non-establishment politicians; both have issues with their hair. But after the cosmetic matters are exhausted, the two men are so different that there could barely share the same stage.

Mr. Sanders has worked in Congress his entire life, and his campaign is purely issue-oriented. He won’t even touch Hillary Clinton with any negative advertisements; and he refuses to even mention the email scandal engulfing her campaign. As Hillary engages in more and more drama, Sanders eschews it and sticks to his message.

Mr. Trump on the other hand relies on his personal history, an area Sanders barely mentions. So the question becomes what’s more important, the message or the messenger. The message forces the candidate to honor certain commitments made during the course of the campaign while the messenger says, “Trust me. We’ll work it out.”

Trump is asking for a lot of trust, but his personal achievements are amazing. Anyone who can amass a couple of billion dollars, solely through the capitalist system, deserves an element of respect. Sanders has been on message for decades; his commitment to his policies deserves respect, too. If either one of them could become just a little more like the other, they would be the perfect candidate.

Tone Deaf Campaigning

music-notation

There was a reason that Hillary Clinton folded in 2008 after being the prohibitive favorite. She failed to find “her voice” until a near loss in New Hampshire where she broke down in tears and showed her human side.

That human side is nothing to be ashamed of; in fact, it is very appealing. One of the main reasons why Hillary gained traction prior to her run for the U.S. Senate involved the poise she showed while the Monica Lewinsky scandal was blowing up all around her.

One of the main reasons why Hillary gained traction prior to her run for the U.S. Senate involved the poise she showed while the Monica Lewinsky scandal was blowing up all around her.

Simultaneously, she needed to handle her husband, the public, Congress and Chelsea. The way she bucked up under these extreme circumstances gained her worldwide admiration.

Now she is under the microscope again. It’s not a pleasant position to be in, but I have faith she will come out with flying colors. And the way she fights her way out of this situation, too, will rebound to her glory and eventually win the Presidency.

If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, it will be a hard fought contest. Mr. Trump would have given Bill Clinton a run for his money, and Hillary is a far worse campaigner. But the issues are on her side, and something tells me she has the grit to not only hold her own but to win the contest.

False News Stories

question-mark

Cable news stations are resorting more and more to false stories. That doesn’t mean they’re making up issues out of whole cloth; rather, the emphasis is off, creating a false agenda and misleading the viewer.

MSNBC and Fox News are the main culprits, though CNN dabbles in the practice as well. On Fox, every broadcast leads off with the “email server scandal,” declaring that Hillary is subject to prosecution and even comparing the story to Watergate. At MSNBC, the rise of Donald Trump is the lead, even though we are months away from anyone casting the first vote.

That doesn’t mean they’re making up issues out of whole cloth; rather, the emphasis is off, creating a false agenda and misleading the viewer.

What do false news stories accomplish? Well, based on the viewership, they affect public opinion and can thus serve as a driver of future events, especially in areas based on polls such as political races. There is no doubt that the blanket coverage of Fox on Hillary’s “email problem” has affected her numbers on questions of whether she is honest and trustworthy. To the extent that coverage plays into existing narratives about a candidate, it can reinforce and solidify public opinion.

Generally, Fox and MSNBC balance each other out, except the larger viewership of Fox gives them slightly more power. But no one can dispute that the candidacy of Donald Trump is media driven, leading to higher poll numbers, with the higher poll numbers then leading into even more media coverage. And Mr. Trump knows how to stoke the fire when necessary to ensure this false story keeps on going.

The Superlative Donald Trump

first-place
Donald Trump believes in superlatives. Everything is either “the best ever,” “huge” or unparalleled in one way or another. As such, Donald Trump is the quintessential American. In a land famous for its superlative viewpoint and indeed, a superlative country in itself, Mr. Trump just takes the prevailing viewpoint and magnifies it a couple of hundred times.

That’s one reason why it’s so pleasurable to listen to Mr. Trump. We’ve all been taught to think in superlatives about our life in America. In Amer

That’s one reason why it’s so pleasurable to listen to Mr. Trump. We’ve all been taught to think in superlatives about our life in America.

ica, anyone can grow up to be President of the United States. While that’s not exactly true, we’ve been trained to think that way.

Anyone who thinks they can actually become President of the United States has a healthy ego to begin with. So why not say out loud what the other candidates are thinking, their presumptuous belief they can do the hardest job in the world.

If you understand Trump’s superlative viewpoint, the rest of his comments fall neatly into place. Mr. Trump thinks of himself as the best person ever, and when you hold that belief, the remarks you make about others are not to be taken seriously. They are solely a way to assert that no one else is exactly like you.

So while it is uncertain how long the Trump phenomenon will last (all the way to the White House?), it sure is entertaining to listen to him talk.

How Trump Does It

crown

How does Donald Trump transfix the media, his supporters, and, yes, his rivals? One could point to his lead position in the polls, but that’s too facile an explanation.

Of course, anyone who thinks he or she can be President of the United States is expressing false humility in the first place. So Trump is saying what the other candidates are really thinking to themselves, and his audacity at expressing it so blatantly is shocking, yet kind of nice.

And it goes beyond being a reality TV star or an expert entertainer. Trump has mastered a cadence in his speeches that draws you inescapably in. He doesn’t talk in sound bytes, like most politicians, but instead, he speaks in teasers.

His teasers are outrageous statements, and not necessarily insults to other people, though he does feel free to hit back hard when someone hits him. Trump is the ultimate narcissist. Everything is great and huge. In a time when most candidates feel required to express some humility, Trump forgoes that emotion, and we are stunned by his self-confidence and very healthy ego.

Of course, anyone who thinks he or she can be President of the United States is expressing false humility in the first place. So Trump is saying what the other candidates are really thinking to themselves, and his audacity at expressing it so blatantly is shocking, yet kind of nice.

And his ultimate card — he did somehow conquer the U.S. capitalist system and earn $10 billion. And even if the figure is only $3 billion, it’s sufficient to show that he does have something going for him.

The Summer of Trump

card-game

The phrase, “the summer of Trump,” is a remarkably condescending description of the man and his political potential. If you get behind the clearly narcissistic elements of his personality, the chauvinistic name calling, the thin-skinned need to retaliate against any attack, and try to consider the foundational components of the man, you come away with a positive impression of his ability to effect change.

It is both fascinating and a little disconcerting to watch Trump in action.

Aside from his nakedly conservative policy stances, if you can call them that, you find someone who truly believes he can make a positive difference for this nation, and he may be right. The ability to make a deal, his traditional business acumen, is unparalleled. He understands that any President must be able to negotiate and work to form a consensus, such as LBJ did in so many forms of political victory.

It is both fascinating and a little disconcerting to watch Trump in action. For example, at his press conference yesterday, he offered rapid fire responses to reporters’ questions, barely lingering over any issue for more than 30 seconds at a time. Despite all his supposed egotism, he is not in love with the sound of his own voice and is not presumptuous enough to put out 12-point plans that are rarely followed in any case.

Trump knows he will appoint the best and the brightest to his cabinet, and he knows how to listen to the consultants he trusts. But his style brushes up against the self-importance of other candidates, and that may be the reason why they feel threatened by him. Oppose him for the conservative nature of his ideology, not for any inherent weaknesses, or time limitation in that belittling slogan, “the summer of Trump.”