Dear Mr. President: stay on message
To The Hon. Donald Trump
The White House
Dear Mr. President:
During the spring and summer of 2016, it wasn’t clear who would win the 2016 general election.
But in October and early November 2016, you largely followed excellent advice that you gave yourself at a rally late in the 2016 general-election campaign.
“Stay on message, Donald,” you said. “Stay on message.”
Since then, you’ve been on target on many issues, including the judiciary, trade, jobs, our borders, the swamp, and America’s vital national interests, all in ways that yours truly’s July 2, 2017, column explains.
You’ve understood all along that the judiciary is among the more important issues in any presidential election, as the Oct. 2, 2016, column explains.
The Supreme Court’s judicial activists remain one appointee away from a majority. You understand what that would mean for the rule of law.
Yet being on target on issues is one thing.
Effectively advocating for issues is another. Staying on message is part of this.
You know that many Democrat officeholders, never Trumps, fake-news elements in the press, and elements of the Washington-establishment swamp vehemently or viciously oppose you, and want no 2020 encore of 2016.
Nevertheless, your supporters – and deep down, your opponents – know you’ve transcended your opponents when you’ve stayed on message.
They also know unforced communication errors obscure the message and give your opponents material to use or, perhaps more often, misuse against you.
But for unforced communication errors, your re-election may well have been a cinch, given your administration’s accomplishments.
In this regard, a fan of yours introduced himself and requested two suggestions be conveyed to you: He first put his thumb and index finger together, pulled them across his lips, and said, “He needs to zip it.”
In one sense, the fan’s hyperbole is like yours: It may not always be the most diplomatic, yet that doesn’t mean it’s headed in the wrong direction.
Then he added, “Tell him not to tweet so much.”
Yet except for unforced communication errors confined to Twitter, such as re-tweeting items without confirming they sufficiently reflect your views, the unforced communication errors extend beyond any one medium. Sometimes such errors involve:
¯ Making statements that unintentionally use the wrong tone, have unintended double meanings, otherwise unintentionally lack an engineer’s precision when it would be particularly helpful, or are facetious, which can work fine if one makes facetiousness clear, which doesn’t always happen.
¯ Responding to statements that one should just rise above.
¯ Responding to an opponent who needs to be addressed but not in a way in which the opponent has an overwhelming advantage.
As one of yours truly’s favorite bosses said, “My Daddy always taught me, ‘Don’t get into a (urinat)ing match with a skunk.'”
¯ Responding to statements by opponents to whom underlings – not you, Mr. President – should respond.
Speaking of underlings: In your second term, your administration needs to fill more slots. That hasn’t happened sufficiently in the first term, and the swamp – which you know isn’t your friend – has filled voids.
And when your administration fills slots, it needs to be with those who support your administration’s vision. You know that some people in your administration haven’t exactly done that.
But first things first. The 2020 presidential election is like 2016’s: It’s among those that especially matter, and – barring something unexpected – it’s yours to win.
A loss – if it were to happen – might well be primarily because of such unforced communication errors.
Following your own excellent advice will serve you and the country well: Stay on message, Mr. President. Stay on message.
Dr. Randy Elf. The author’s Oct. 2, 2016, and July 2, 2017, columns are at https://observertoday.com/opinion/commentary/2016/10/you-re-not-just-voting-for-president and https://www.post-journal.com/life/viewpoints/2017/07/trumps-advice-is-exactly-right.
Copyright ç 2020 by Randy Elf.