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Trump

What Do I Mean By “Narrative”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“I don’t agree.”

Some folks disagreed with my instant assessment of the Syrian strike. My assessment: Trump’s surprise military attack will shift four narratives in Trump’s favor:

  • Trump is Hitler: dead
  • Trump is a Russian agent: dead
  • Trump is incompetent: dying
  • Trump is a lightweight among world leaders: dead

In other words, it took 59 cruise missiles to blow up the left’s anti-Trump narratives.

But my friends disagree. That’s okay. I don’t hang around with “yes” people.

Still, I figured I should at least explain what I mean by “narrative.”

Narrative, in this context, is the story we tell ourselves. It’s not the stories we are told. And the narratives develop from information that reaches the brain, often without awareness. (See the video below to learn just open you are to suggestion.)

Check this out first.

Right now, I am sitting in a cafe. One end of this cafe is huge atrium with glass on three sides and above your head. Looking out through the glass I see blooming trees. Those budding leaves are laboring to blot out the bright blue sky beyond. Those leaves want all that sunlight to themselves.

That’s the narrative in my head about what I see outside. Thirty or so other people can see the same world beyond that atrium. But I am pretty confident no one else sees the leaves conspiring to block my view of the sky (what color is the sky?). Each person has a slightly different narrative about those leaves.

If I were to stand up and announce my narrative, some people would adopt it as-is.

But most of those people would, instead, become aware of the view beyond the atrium. Their minds would conjure up a story about that they see. Their stories would be influenced by my bizarre outburst. They would not simply adopt my narrative. They would form their own narratives under my influence. And their narratives would influence everything they see through the atrium’s glass.

Until something else happens—some new influence—alters that narrative.

Now, back to the Syrian air strike.

Here you are reading my blog. You pay more attention to politics than most people do. You are more informed than many people, don’t you agree?

So think about the people who pay only slight attention to politics and world events. How do they fill their days? How do their brains craft narratives about the world?

Those people’s narratives form just like the people in the cafe looking out the atrium. Their brains pick up bits and pieces of someone else’s narrative to form their own.

CNN is on everywhere. In airports, restaurants, doctors offices, and even in this cafe where I’m writing. For months, those people have picked up narratives about “Hitler,” “Russia,” “clown,” and “isolationist.” Even without people knowing it, they’d formed a narrative in their own minds about President Trump. However they voted, if they voted at all, those narratives were influenced by CNN’s words. That’s simply how the brain works.

And those narratives got stronger and stronger every day. Until something caused people to re-evaluate their won private narratives. Something big enough, emotional enough, to make people pay attention for a moment.

Dying babies—babies!—gets their attention. Now, they’re listening.

And this is what they’re hearing:

“No child of God should ever suffer such horrors.”

“When you kill innocent children, innocent babies — babies! — little babies, … that crosses many, many lines. Beyond a red line, many, many lines.”

“Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike . . . “

These are the words of President Trump. Trump’s biggest enemies—the people who have helped shape those scary narratives—repeat these words. They repeat Trump’s humanitarian, decisive words again and again. That’s high information density combined with high emotional intensity. The recipe for narrative change.

Imagine sitting in this atrium with your narrative about the trees. You’re not aware of that narrative. It’s deep inside your brain. You only recall it when you need it for some reason. As you sip your coffee, you don’t need your narrative. Then . . .

CRASH! A tree branch the length of a telephone pole crashes through the atrium.

The danger alerts your attention. Your brain pulls that old narrative out of cold storage. Then your brain updates that narrative. The shattering glass is new information. Whatever your old narrative might have been, it’s different now, guaranteed. It’s a different narrative now.

When President Trump crashed Assad’s slaughter party with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles, he shattered a lot of atriums. Today, people are writing new narratives. And most of those new narratives involve a bold and decisive leader who can’t stand seeing babies slaughtered.

Everything has changed.

Now for that video I promised.

 

Trump’s Next Move: Infrastructure

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I’ve changed my mind on priority.

Instead of going to tax reform next, President Trump should work on that big-league infrastructure bill. Now. Fast.

President Trump needs a big win because power is in perception. He also needs to put Democrats in a bind. Plus, he needs to prove he can pass big legislation without all GOP factions on board.

The solution is infrastructure.

During the campaign, Trump spoke of a massive building project to rejuvenate our roads, modernize our airports, and more. Trump’s dream sounds more like a traditional Democrat plan than a Republican idea. (Unless you count Eisenhower and Reagan as Republicans.) Shifting to infrastructure now could more than overcome Trump’s defeat on health care.

Infrastructure Can Pass

Trump’s best known for building his way to billionaire status. That makes Trump seem like an expert on the subject. No one considered Trump an expert on government health care. And no one can deny that he’s an expert on building big, huge, beautiful things and running them great.

Byron York, one of my favorite columnists, makes a great point today in a column called “14 Lessons from the GOP Obamacare Debacle“:

Had Trump and the House GOP tackled, say, an infrastructure bill first, the story from Capitol Hill would have been a president and Congress giving things to the American people — surely a more popular legislative start to an already controversial presidency.

Even though infrastructure will have enemies in the GOP, Congressmen and Senators from Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania know that jobs matter. Democrat governors are openly salivating for the projects. So are a lot of Republican state legislatures, though less publicly.

Infrastructure projects promise both immediate, short-term jobs and longer term boosts to productivity and growth. Even some Freedom Caucus members from the rust belt will feel obliged to get on board this train.

But that’s not the best part.

Democrats Will Cross Over for Infrastructure

Trump’s relationships with labor unions are already high for a Republican president. Now, he needs to deliver something to that small but well-funded and activist constituency. He needs to deliver jobs.

Democrats know they can’t fight Trump on a bill that puts a lot of union members to work. Infrastructure will attract enough Democrat votes to neutralize the Freedom Caucus, which will probably oppose the legislation.

And that last point is perhaps the most important.

Courting Democrats Builds Leverage With Republicans

President Trump and Reince Priebus both said they are more willing to work with Democrats now than before the health care debacle. That’s smart negotiating. It’s leverage.

If you remember back to 2015, a lot of Republicans were complaining that many of Trump’s ideas sounded more like a Democrat. That means Trump would be completely consistent with himself if he sought more support from the other party.

Plus, in 2020, Trump won’t be judged by how happy he made 40 members of the Freedom Caucus. He’ll be judged by whether or not he made America great again in the eyes of voters. That’s just the way it is.

And the GOP’s majorities in Congress are so slim that Trump really needs some Democrats down the road. He could have used a dozen in the House on Friday. He will definitely some in the Senate for just about everything.

Again, hat tip to Byron York for reminding us:

Find more votes. Unless there is exceptional unity on an issue, the GOP doesn’t have enough votes to ignore Democrats and pass big legislation entirely on its own. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid (barely) passed Obamacare with 253 Democrats in the House and 60 in the Senate. Paul Ryan has 237 Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has 52. The GOP has virtually no room for error.

If every major bill relies on every Republican faction, Trump will accomplish nothing and Democrats will take the House in 2018. Believe me, Democrats will take the House in 2018 if Trump and the Republicans don’t get big things done. (I’m not alone on this. Ted Cruz agrees with me.)

As we saw last week, even after Mark Meadows and David Brat reach an agreement with House leadership and the White House, Meadows and Brat might not deliver the Freedom Caucus. There’s a chance that group will oppose all major legislation, including tax reform if it’s not to their liking. So Trump needs to attract some Democrats now, and infrastructure is the low-hanging fruit.

And timing is important on getting those Democrat cross-overs.

Commitment and Consistency

The sooner some Democrats hold their noses and vote for a Trump initiative, the more Trump can rely on those Democrats in the future. You know this because of the persuasion principle called “commitment and consistency.” The longer Democrats vote “no” on everything the president proposes, the harder it will be for them to get behind the president later.

Researchers find in numerous studies that getting people to take an easy, painless step now makes it more likely that they’ll take a harder, more painful step in the future. That’s because the brain is wired to display consistency with past commitments.

With the right messaging, those Democrats who support the bill will make a statement of commitment to jobs, growth, and making America great again. When it comes time to vote on tax reform, Trump just needs to wrap that legislation in the same commitment language.

A strong move on infrastructure would make a lot of people happy. Happy people see more positives than unhappy people. That makes it easier for people find positives in future, tougher legislation like tax reform.

If Trump makes a strong move on infrastructure in the next two weeks, his larger vision will pick up steam after the summer recess. And the warring factions in the GOP will have to consider this: are their interests better off if they negotiate with Trump or if the Democrats negotiate with Trimp?

Voters will judge Republicans on what they get done between now and the 2018 elections. So far, they’re putting up goose eggs. A big win on infrastructure will make a lot of people happy and forge new alliances that can make America great again.

Without Power, Principles Are Platitudes

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Without power, principles are platitudes.

Consider this a favor to the Freedom Caucusers. Those folks can’t see past the end of their own principles.

Knowing the Freedom Caucus people pretty well, I know they’re very happy with Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. I know they’d be very miserable if Gorsuch were rejected and Trump had to nominate someone who could win a few Democrat votes.

It’s all about power.

Why Gorsuch’s Chances Just Dropped

And, thanks to Speaker Ryan and the Freedom Caucus, Neil Gorsuch’s chances of confirmation just dropped below 50-50. That’s because the Senate’s two squishiest Republicans just saw there’s no consequence to bucking the President. And those Republicans who considered the nuclear option just learned there’s no benefit in sticking your neck out for the President.

Add it all up, and Paul Ryan and the Freedom Caucus have, for the time being, made Trump a one-term President and made this Congress a lame duck. All in less than 80 days. Good work, boys.

Expect to hear Mitch McConnell tamp down talk of the nuclear option. And don’t be surprised if you hear Susan Collins (and one or two others) equivocate on their support for Gorsuch. It’ll probably happen during the Sunday talk shows. Meanwhile, Chuck Schumer has a new, heavy bludgeon to keep Democrat Senators from voting “aye” on Gorsuch. Expect 48 Democrats to vote “no.”

Power shifted on Friday. Big league.

The GOP Is Dangerously Weak

Right now, Donald Trump is very weak. Paul Ryan is even weaker. But the Freedom Caucus is also weak. The Freedom Caucus remains an obstructive faction composed of people who show little or no understanding of power. (If you want to learn about power, read Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power. It’s a masterpiece.)

To get his power back, Trump needs to isolate, personalize, and destroy a member of the Freedom Caucus. This takedown needs to be obvious, transparent, and ruthless. Trump needs to show Republican Senators that bucking the White House on major issues is a career ender. And he needs to act with blinding speed.

Trump can borrow a tactic from the Tea Party. It was a tactic we borrowed from Saul Alinsky:

Rule 13: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

Once Trump’s team has destroyed a Freedom Caucuser, a House faction needs to do the same to Paul Ryan. Trump should not attack Ryan directly, though. The chances of taking down a Speaker are slim. If the President tries and fails to take down Ryan, his presidency is over. Besides, in retrospect, people will credit Trump with the takedown if it’s successful. People are conditioned to think it’s the kind of thing Trump would do.

Within the House of Representatives, it doesn’t matter who goes after Ryan. Just about any faction of the House Republican caucus has good cause to take down Ryan. Once they see the Alinsky method used successfully against one of their own, they’ll know what to do.

And once those Republican Senators see Trump carve up both a Freedom Caucus member and the establishment Speaker, they will fall in line.

People follow power.

America’s Survival Hangs in the Balance

Look, if you read my blog, you know I helped, in tiny ways, the Freedom Caucus to come about. Almost every member of the Freedom Caucus got to Congress thanks to the Tea Party.

My complicity in creating the Freedom Caucus doesn’t mean I support their actions blindly. It means I accept accountability for the Freedom Caucus’s actions. The way some Freedom Caucus members handled the healthcare bill was embarrassingly childish. As J. Marsolo writes on American Thinker:

But it came down to about fifteen Republicans, mostly from the conservative Freedom Caucus, who refused to vote for the Ryan plan, as modified by Trump.  It is difficult to understand why the Republicans could not compromise with the fifteen Freedom Caucus members to pass the bill.  It is also difficult to understand why these fifteen did not compromise and refused to vote.

The key is to repeal Obamacare.  Now they have their principles, and we have Obamacare.

Right now, I firmly believe the Freedom Caucus and Paul Ryan have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Their stupidity and childishness have damaged their President, possibly beyond repair. They have made a Republican Congress useless. Absent a dramatic move, Democrats will take control of the House of Representives and possibly the Senate on January 3, 2019. And Corey Booker will become the 46th President on January 20, 2021.

If that’s what the Freedom Caucus wants, I’m out.

Only Trump can save Republicans from themselves. Saving the Republican Party requires culling the herd. It’s time to put the fear of Trump back into Republican hearts.

Without power, principles are platitudes.

And there’s hope. This morning, President Trump tweeted this:

Great minds think alike.

Unprotected Sects

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The television activists at CNN look like college seniors who learned upon returning from winter break that credit requirements for graduation were just upped from 120 hours to 180 hours. And there ain’t grandfathering!

Diehard NeverTrumpers attack Trump supporters on social media like bitter, divorcing spouses locked in a pitched custody battle. And there ain’t no reconciliation!

Establishment Republicans, Democrats who count on union support, the more radical unions like SEIU and NEA, Planned Parenthood baby killers, and tenured communist professors shriek like hormone-crazed adolescents in fall-down hysterics.

Spoiled Hollywood knuckle-dragger elitists blather like untreated schizophrenic alcoholics in a failed 1960s UCLA Film School student project.

And working class heroes, the guys you’ve never seen without a ball cap, who were “displaced” by the elites’ greedy schemes to rid the world of people unlike themselves—the “unprotected” people of whom Bill Clinton said they “work hard and play by the rules”—those long-unprotected millions go about life exuding a fresh sunshine quiet optimism.

For the people who shower in the evening, it’s Morning in America Again.

Donald J. Trump’s first whirlwindhyperloopmagnettrainrocketship of a first week left the Washington old guard feeling old, slow, and unprotected. And the frenzied speed of this First Week of American Greatness poured salt on the wounds of the stumbling elites. Trump moved so fast, so wildly that lifelong Reagan worshipers (like me) had to re-evaluate our presidential-preference rankings only one week into Trump’s America. Dilbert creator Scott Adams described it best:

In only a few days, Trump has made us question what-the-hell every other president was doing during their first weeks in office. Were they even trying?

Hard-left-fake-news blog Politico described the week this way:

President Donald Trump’s first seven days in office were historic, chaotic, often astonishing and sometimes unsettling. With a flurry of provocative executive orders, surreal events, unapologetic falsehoods and did-he-really-say-that tweets, Trump continued to obliterate political norms, serving notice that the gaze of history won’t change who he is. He made so much news and did so many unorthodox things that it was hard to keep track of everything that was changing in Washington.

While Trump’s official actions came so fast only The Guardian seemed able to keep track with this handy list of 20 first week actions, Trump’s genius for scrambling reporters’ brains protected his work from their fake-news, propagandist lies:

Everything Donald Trump does is strategically calculated to achieve a goal. His communication is designed not to simply convey his gut feelings, but to make people focus on one thing — call it a decoy — so he can do six other things while they’re distracted.

That’s from Dr. Keith Albow, a psychiatrist, writing on FoxNews.com. Dr. Albow explains something very important:

For journalists who still don’t get it, here it is, again, in direct terms: When Trump says something like “If I were you I would take your camera and look at the size of the crowd,” he is actually saying, “Let’s debate crowd size, again, because otherwise you might ask me questions about my real and historically powerful plans and ideas, which I don’t trust you to report on fairly, anyhow.”

Scott Adams says much the same:

You’re probably seeing the best persuasion you will ever see from a new president. Instead of dribbling out one headline at a time, so the vultures and critics can focus their fire, Trump has flooded the playing field. You don’t know where to aim your outrage. He’s creating so many opportunities for disagreement that it’s mentally exhausting. Literally. He’s wearing down the critics, replacing their specific complaints with entire encyclopedias of complaints. And when Trump has created a hundred reasons to complain, do you know what impression will be left with the public?

He sure got a lot done.

It was the most productive week of any president in US history by leaps and bounds. Twenty official policy actions, countless strategic distractions, and 24/7 control of the news cycle. The media elite are Trump’s unwitting accomplices in everything he does.

Which brings us back to the plight of the elites.

Remember how Peggy Noonan labeled the establishment and the people last year? The protected and the unprotected:

Those who come to this space know why I think what happened, happened. The unprotected people of America, who have to live with Washington’s policies, rebelled against the protected, who make and defend those policies and who care little if at all about the unprotected. That broke bonds of loyalty and allegiance. Tuesday was in effect an uprising of the unprotected. It was part of the push-back against detached elites that is sweeping the West and was seen most recently in the Brexit vote. (Link available here.)

Call it “protection reassignment.”

Donald Trump needed only one speech and one week to turn the tables on that Elitist Protection Racket. Now, the people feel protected and the (former?) elites feel naked and afraid. Those sniveling elitists are America’s new unprotect sects.

Anyone feel bad for them?

 

American Steel

Reading Time: 1 minutes

I know people, and you probably do too, who are out of work from the United Steel Granite City (aka Granite City Steel) closure. It’s disheartening and depressing for people who worked hard all those years, thrown into the street because of bad trade deals and stifling regulations.

But President Trump has ordered the Keystone Pipeline renegotiated to require American steel pipes. That’s great news for our friends and neighbors in GC.

Today, Mr. Trump is expected to sign executive orders to begin construction of the border wall, construction already authorized and funded by Congress. That construction, too, will include American steel.

Isn’t it great to get our fine steelworkers back to work?

Winning.

Trump Meant It All

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Trump’s enemies took refuge in the self-created narrative that his campaign was 100% American showmanship. The crooked press and the corrupt establishment, while dissing Trump publicly, scoffed privately. They “knew” his supporters were idiots and yahoos—marginally functional Neanderthals from America’s unreconstructed backwoods whose ability to think, handicapped by genetics, was further crippled by the moonshine distilled in the shed behind their putrid outhouse for personal consumption by their incest-ridden family of knuckle-dragging racist homophobes.

When Chuck Todd hears “Trump suppporter,” he pictures Jethro Bodine with rabies. The press and the establishment worked together crafting a narrative that, having fooled these moronic quirks of evolutionary retardation, Trump would seize power and become a self-serving establishmentarian. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

But, like so many times in the campaign, the press was wrong. Dead wrong. They were wrong about Trump’s supporters, they were wrong about his appeal to blacks and Hispanics, they were wrong about his appeal to women, they were wrong about his appeal to educated whites, and they were wrong about his motives. All wrong. Dead wrong. If election prognostication were the SAT of journalism, the Chuck Todds of the world would be applying to trade school now.

Peggy Noonan nailed it, as she often does:

He presented himself not as a Republican or a conservative but as a populist independent. The essential message: Remember those things I said in the campaign? I meant them. I meant it all.

Ted Cruz famously warned Trump supporters toward the end of his failed primary campaign that Donald Trump would “betray you.” Ted Cruz was wrong, too. Trump is still Trump. The showman, the provocateur, the braggart (“it ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up,” Dizzy Dean said.)

At 12:01 p.m. on January 20, the establishment expected Trump to fulfill Cruz’s prophecy by betraying the people and kissing the establishment’s ring. Imagine the cold shock that slithered down their spines when Trump began his speech with this:

Today’s ceremony however has very special meaning, because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to the other, but from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capitol has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington has flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.

Their victories have not been your victories.

Their triumphs have not been your triumphs.

There was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

That all changes starting right here and right now. This moment is your moment, it belongs to you. It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America.

In his simple, straightforward manner, Donald Trump, in his first words as President of the United States, dissolved the political bands that tied the White House to the Washington establishment and its hallelujah corner in the press. Trump divorced the office of the president from the Washington cartel and connected it to the America people.

This changes everything. And it means we, the people, must have his back. And we must have his back in a way that we’ve never had a president’s back before.

Donald Trump’s tiny team of White House staff and cabinet appointees has declared war against everything the Tea Party declared war against: both parties, the lobbyists, the press, the revolving doors, the protected incumbencies of politicians and corporations. He declared war against the powerful few by allying himself with the forgetten many.

Peggy Noonan warns us of the battle we face and odds against us:

Normally a new president has someone backing him up, someone publicly behind him. Mr. Obama had the mainstream media—the big broadcast networks, big newspapers, activists and intellectuals, pundits and columnists of the left—the whole shebang. He had a unified, passionate party. Mr. Trump in comparison has almost nothing. The mainstream legacy media oppose him, even hate him, and will not let up. The columnists, thinkers and magazines of the right were mostly NeverTrump; some came reluctantly to support him. His party is split or splitting. The new president has gradations of sympathy, respect or support from exactly one cable news channel, and some websites.

He really has no one but those who voted for him.

Do they understand what a lift daily governance is going to be, and how long the odds are, with so much arrayed against him, and them?

I think we do.

When fifty thousand people in 58 locations responded on just four days notice to protest the establishment’s bailouts on February 27, 2009, we faced similar odds. On “Your World with Neil Cavuto” aired that afternoon, Neil talked to organizers of various Tea Party protests. (Plus lots of video footage from St. Louis.) It’s worth revisiting because Cavuto used the term “populist” to describe the events. He also questioned whether this would be a movement that resulted in change or if we would remain a “very vocal minority.”

On Friday, January 20, 2017, Mr. Cavuto got his answer.

We are winning.

 

Photo credit: Respublica: http://respublica.typepad.com/respublica/2009/02/tea-party-in-st-louis.html