William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Memo to GOP Presidential Hopefuls (Who Aren’t Named Trump). Guest Post by The BB

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Mr Editor says: note the name of the author.

Dear GOP Presidential Hopeful,

You are probably wondering why your campaign isn’t turning out as well as you expected. Up to now, you’ve followed the conventional playbook for running for president. You have name recognition. You have a decent enough resume. You are out there on the trail, shaking hands and kissing babies, but your poll numbers can’t get out of the doldrums. What can you do to up your game?

(1) Disavow “politics as usual”. Big campaigns run on big money. And big money means big favors. You’ve courted the moneymen, you’ve done some behind-the-scenes meetings with some corporate types to assess their support. If there hasn’t been any actual quid pro quo, there were probably a couple winks and elbow nudges. The public perceives politics to be a dirty business, and is tired of being on the hook for a bailout here and a bailout there. The reality is that you need outside funding, but you have to work to assure the voters that you are looking after their interests.

(2) Work on messaging. What is your message? What do you want to accomplish as president? Can you state the three or four things that are at the top of your list briefly, without weighing yourself down with caveats and legal exceptions? This is a campaign, and it is perfectly fine to talk in broad strokes. Remember that Obama wanted to “close Guantanamo”? Very clever pitch-pithy, and spoken directly to his base. Has anyone noticed that Guantanamo is still open? Does anyone really care? This is not an endorsement of abandoning one’s campaign promises, but an example of the general rhetoric that a candidate is expected to employ.

If you are stuck for an idea of what you stand for, consider:

(A) Terrorism (yes, you have to say that terrorism is a problem and that you are willing to work to combat it);

(B) Immigration (of course there are potentially wonderful citizens streaming across our borders, but there needs to be some reassurance that the bad guys can be accounted for);

(C) Healthcare (the status quo is going to put most of the country in the poor house keeping up with the premiums, never mind the actual billings for doctor visits);

(D) Energy (the whole “climate change” shenanigans fit here);

(E) Jobs (this also applies to immigration; what kind of work will these newcomers be doing? How can a healthy middle glass be sustained and expanded?);

(F) Education (how can young adults move from education to jobs without incurring five- or six-figure debt? Note: the solution is not “free” college for anyone who asks.)

(3) Manage the media. Journalists are experts in getting candidates to be tongue-tied. They glory in the “gotcha”. Don’t be extemporaneous in your interactions with reporters. Stay on message. As you gain in the polls, you will be mocked. Persevere, and don’t let the media make you walk back or dilute your core message.

(4) Articulate your position on social issues. In the current era, this is a tough one for conservatives, because it the larger culture has galloped on to be more than overwhelmingly favorable to abortion and gay “marriage”, and is heading in the same direction and pace on euthanasia. There is the matter of law, and there is also the matter of your conscience. Your task is to balance both, without seeming to be offensive to anyone. If you can state your beliefs sincerely, and also acknowledge the status of the law, you will able to better navigate these tricky waters.

(5) Cross-over appeal. Mrs. Clinton does not necessarily have a lock on the Democrats. There are many Reagan Democrats and others who have been disaffected and disillusioned by the current president and the direction of the Democrat party. There is a wide swath of Democrats who will gladly put their name on your dance card. You need to reach out to these voters, and show that that you can work together.

(6) Pretend like you’re enjoying this. The public is treated to reel after reel of the GOP candidates looking like they just stepped in a pile of horse manure. Honestly, you don’t look like you are enjoying the campaign. You seem like you can’t take a joke or have a laugh. The general effect you have is that you look like you’ve been sucking on lemons. Would it kill you to crack a smile? If your intimates and family claim that you are warm and friendly person, show it.

The public is looking forward to an energetic, enthused, and reinvigorated campaign. Remember, it’s yours to lose. Sorry, I mean win.

34 Comments

  1. Found it fascinating that yesterday Trump said that terrorism won’t be solved until Obama is “out of there”, or words like that. Later in same day, the Big Chief himself, chaffing from this rare affront, announced measures that he as president and “future presidents” would have to adhere to.

    What a startling admission!

  2. BB, your comments are well and good on the face of it. The problem is that some of the candidates are already doing what you suggest with no big jump in poll numbers, which suggests 1) that polls are not accurate measures of what “folks” really think, or 2) that the voting public are uninformed, and entranced by loud, vulgar and impossible show candidates (Trump?), or 3) both 1) and 2).
    After reading pro-Trump, anti-anti-Trump comments in posts on Lucianne.com, I’m inclined to believe #2.

  3. In Education: Add that 16 years of schooling should not produce a functionally illiterate graduate with a degree in gender studies.

    It must be serious with terrorism. Obama left his beloved COP21 to speak in the Oval Office (COP21 is kind of a fizzle at this point, so perhaps that weighed in on the decision).

    Bob: I’m disappointed you would draw any conclusion from internet comments. Or is it that you so intensely dislike Trump that you’re reaching for straws? Seems out of character for you.

  4. Work on messaging

    Carly Fiorina has been rather forthright about what she would do (although not in everything you’ve listed) and her poll numbers are abysmal. Trump, on the other hand, seems to be coasting on what people want to hear: brash and politically incorrect to the max while saying nothing about how he would do anything. The fact that he only has words doesn’t seem to have any plans is more than disturbing.

    Currently, I think the only candidate who could actually win the general election is Rubio. Carly’s could also but right now doesn’t seem to be grabbing much of the vote.Ben Carson once again has shown his only chance at office would be in the VP slot. Things could change, though.

    On the Democrat side, it looks like Hillary all the way down.Bernie is a total nut job and during the Democratic debate O’Malley came across as a piece of eye candy. At one time he looked up and coming. My ex-girlfriend and I ran into him at the City Lights restaurant (2004, IIRC; now sadly closed) in Baltimore while he was still mayor. His mayoral term was impressive. I greeted him with “Hello, governor” and even voted for him. But then I got to see what he did for Maryland. Being eye candy suits him.

  5. The Trump appeal is a rejection of America’s political elite. There is no one in a federal establishment office that is “of the people.” Trump speaks his mind. His sound bites resonate in a blue collar bar. He takes no least common denominator positions, doesn’t opinion poll his opinions, and has one quality that would dramatically improve our foreign relations. He is unpredictable. Unfortunately, he is unelectable and we’ll need to get accustomed to hearing madam president unless she is indicted before the general election. Would the president pardon her?

  6. The only real rule for how to win an election is to tell the most number of people in the right places (due to electoral colleges) what they want to hear such that they show up and vote for you.

    The lists like BB made are common, because they are the particular author’s belief as to what it is that people want to hear, and what will motivate said people to go to the ballot box. Many of the things in the list are true, of course!

    Some comments:

    Manage the media

    This should be changed to “hammer the media”. No one really trusts the media, and many Americans feel that the media is their opponent. The CNBC debate demonstrated the effectiveness of this.

    Cross-over appeal

    This is a hard thing to do, but it hits the core need of bringing out voters in an election. I don’t like the ‘cross-over’ phrasing, though, but that might be my own perceived connotations for it. Cross-over sounds too much like “make everyone happy”. You can get cross-over appeal by making your opponent seem like a worse choice, although that probably won’t be motivational enough to get people out to vote.

    Here’s an attribute that I think is needed to win as a Republican:

    Be Alpha

    A no-nonsense, strong, doesn’t back down, confident, vocal, and unashamed leader for conservative values is needed. This is a yuuuuge factor in why Trump has been doing well. No wishy-washy phrasing in interviews! Call out your opponents for what they are, be truthful, and don’t apologize for telling what you believe is the truth.

    Tact is certainly necessary, but don’t be afraid to call Hillary an economically illiterate foreign policy disaster who can’t even use modern technology. Never give up, never surrender.

    So few people (relatively speaking) get out to vote. They need to be fired up to get off their butts and go vote. Say some firing up stuff! Trump’s poll numbers are largely due (as far as I can tell) to his creation of a new-ish bloc of voters.

  7. #3 Manage the media. This is the most essential skill for any GOP candidate. They are the enemy; the Dems are merely rivals. Unless you have a dash of wit like Christie, some deep knowledge of subjects like Cruz, a bit of brazenness like Trump (but not so narcissistically over the top), and some telegenic presence like Rubio (and maybe Carly), you have no hope of defending against them. Either this is a natural ability or you must cultivate whatever talent you have. It must be a combination package. Otherwise, you’re toast.

  8. What’s the “Democrat party”?

  9. Sheri, you might go to Lucianne.com and read the comments–kindest word I can think of is “Yahoo” (in the Swiftian sense) to describe those who attack anti-Trump posts and comments. And yes I do despise Trump that much!!! If he’s nominated, I won’t vote for him and if he (God forbid) is elected, I’ll look into emigration for me and my loved ones.

  10. What’s the “Democrat party”

    It’s the event thrown when the Democrats win an election.

    As for name, the Democratic Party is clearly undemocratic.

  11. The Repubs would do well to drop their Fascist tendencies, not that any of those running even remember 1930s Germany, despite copying the same rhetorical playbook.

  12. I find it interesting, if pitiable, that those on the left and the far right do not use either wit or rational arguments in their comments, but only emplooy weasel words, such as “Fascist”.. (Their use of these, by the way, illustrates the deplorable lack of knowledge of contemporary history. The Fascists were in Italy, not Germany, and Mussolini did, after all, “make the trains run on time”.)

  13. Lee,

    The richer branch of the Republican party.

  14. “The richer branch of the Republican party.”

    Ha! I’m going to steal that.

  15. This post is absolutely right. It misses one factor which I only remembered after reading many of the comments from devout Republicans and Democrats.
    Trump has qualities of leadership. This underpins his success in business. Regular politicians of either flavour can’t buy or emulate this.
    Phony outrage over political incorrectness illustrates exactly where he’s strong.
    Trump for president, wish I had a vote.

  16. Joy,

    Too bad Trump avoids explaining how he would accomplish anything — other than “trust me I get things done”. The last thing we need is yet another egotist in office with a do-it-my-way-or-else attitude. And, as I said, we don’t have any inkling what Trump’s plans are. As of now, he has flipped some of his previous opinions. Has he truly changed his mind or is he just saying what he thinks needs to be said to win?


  17. messaging

    Or massaging (like the CAGW crowd)

  18. Bob: I did try finding offensive comments on Lucianne. com. I guess either my definition of offensive is different or I did not find the right threads.

    I look forward to seeing if you are a man of your word. I remember many people saying they would leave the US if Bush was elected, yet they are still here. Besides, where would you go? 🙂

    It’s fine not to vote for Trump. That’s how we got Obama for a second term when Republicans didn’t like Romney and stayed home. Hillary will be very grateful.

    You object to “weasal words” yet I actually read your comment as saying Trump evil and rotten. Very similar, I think. (Maybe evil and rotten are not weasal words?)

    DAV: It does not matter a wit what a politician says his plans are. The minute they are sworn in, all the promises go straight out the window. Maybe Trump is just leaving out the “lie about your plans” part and will do whatever he wants after the election. It’s pretty much the tradition over the last 50 years.

  19. “he has flipped some of his previous opinions:
    “Has he truly changed his mind?” probably maybe but if he never changed his mind he’d be a very unusual person.
    “is he just saying what he thinks needs to be said to win?”Probably, does that make him different? Perhaps he just knows when to “play politics” and when to play golf.
    He’s out smarting the would be smarts. There’s empirical evidence that the smarts aren’t so smart or at least that more than smart is required for success.
    Obama doesn’t take advice he knows he knows best which makes him a fool.
    The trick is to know the difference. Leadership isn’t always about having the best ideas. Trump gives a clue to this when he speaks about those people he’d “bring on board.”
    “I can’t do it but I know a man who can”. Lesson one in getting the job done since that’s what concerns people. Perhaps that isn’t really what concerns people they just want to call Trump an ignoramus and think they’re done.
    Dav I don’t mean this to be directed at you but there’s a myth about that it takes blue collar brains to like Trump! No, just to understand Trump, evidently.

  20. Trump should emphasize trade problems more-he could carry the entire ex-industrial Midwest and PA. The spectre of robotization aside, I think the hyperfinancialized economy is a big failure.

  21. Would the list have been the same if it had been made before Trump entered the race? It appears to me that it has been crafted after watching Trump shoot up in the polls. You can read about his policy positions on his website (see pdf files). In a way, I agree with Trump that one cannot reveal one’s position beforehand in war and trade.

  22. Still trending, judging by the current incumbent, but will this continue:

    “Democracy gives [the beatification of mediocrity] a certain appearance of objective and demonstrable truth. The mob man, functioning as citizen, gets a feeling that he is really important to the world—that he is genuinely running things. Out of his maudlin herding after rogues and mountebanks there comes to him a sense of vast and mysterious power—which is what makes archbishops, police sergeants, the grand goblins of the Ku Klux and other such magnificoes happy. And out of it there comes, too, a conviction that he is somehow wise, that his views are taken seriously by his betters—which is what makes United States Senators, fortune tellers and Young Intellectuals happy. Finally, there comes out of it a glowing consciousness of a high duty triumphantly done which is what makes hangmen and husbands happy.

    “When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost… The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt.

    “All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office of the president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

    – H. L. Mencken, Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920

  23. well, Sheri, you may be right about comments in Lucianne.com–they seemed to have changed from a week or so ago. I could only find one nasty comment from a search (searched Lucianne.com for “Trump”)
    “Go home and shut your pie hole you slimy thing.”
    And I wouldn’t and didn’t use the words “evil” and “rotten” applied to Trump. I think he’s a fool, a boaster, and an impulsive off-the-cuff doer (just the kind of person we need for president with the red button?). He’s changed position so many times with respect to party affiliation, right-to-life, and other issues that I think one is justified in calling him an opportunist and saying those things he thinks will get him votes, rather than what he believes. I don’t credit his success in business–he started off with millions from his father and his real estate enterprises have undergone bankruptcies, harming his creditors.
    But that makes him incompetent rather than evil.
    By the “Yahoo” as used by Swift was applied to brutish, dirty hominid-like creatures, the opposite of the noble horse-like houhynhyms (sp?).
    And you’re right–I’m too old to emigrate, but I will certainly urge my children to do so. If it comes to a choice between Trump and Hillary, I’m not sure there’s that much of a difference, and we’ll follow the last days of Pax Americana.

  24. Ken, I think you (or rather H.L. Mencken) nailed it.

  25. Ken and Bob K:
    You two who won’t be voting then:
    I don’t believe either of you.
    If you believe that statement then you’re voting for a moron whoever ends up in charge.’ That would be moronic.
    It’s just exaggeration and oversimplification.

  26. Joy, I didn’t quite understand your last comment:
    “You two who won’t be voting then:
    I don’t believe either of you.
    If you believe that statement then you’re voting for a moron whoever ends up in charge.’ That would be moronic.”

    Was something omitted? What is the statement to which you refer? Please fill in.
    By the way, I consider your previous comments on Trump, well-reasoned, even if I disagree with them. I gather that you aren’t an American from your statement that you can’t vote. Perhaps if you were more familiar with Trump’s TV and real estate enterprises and his history before he became a candidate you might not be so enthusiastic about him. But that’s just a guess.

  27. Trump may have all the ‘negative’ attributes listed above, but I really don’t care. I care about 1 thing – Immigration. And I am married to a legal immigrant. Jobs, education, welfare, healthcare won’t matter unless we get immigration under control.

    The Dhimmicrats say we cannot round up 11 million (actually closer to 30 mm). We would not have to if we enforced the laws. No jobs, no welfare, no school for any illegal immigrant. What choice do they have but to leave. (But they can take 300 million guns from 100 million innocent, law abiding citizens. WTF?)

    Trump’s huge, beautiful wall will have a great big gate. You may come in, but you will be required to sign the guest book.

  28. “If you believe that statement then you’re voting for a moron whoever ends up in charge.’ ”

    That’s equally true of everyone who does vote, no matter which candidate they vote for. No mater who wins either primary, the general election will come down to choosing the lesser of two morons.

  29. Bob Kurland,
    I don’t mean offense either. I meant “in charge” one of the quotation marks was missing.
    On “oversimplification and exaggeration”
    1. The Mencken quote,
    2. Voting in a moron,
    respectively.
    I regard Obama as many things which aren’t so pleasant. I wouldn’t expect to escape trying to claim that he was a moron. He’s not very smart though. He has difficulty with matters of complexity and has a strange way of choosing advisors. He is foolish.
    Trump, from over here is outwitting the others and the media despite their best efforts.
    He has looked at the field read the situation and pitched his game accordingly. I like that.
    If people vote for him it’ll be for his influence at the top however real presidential power actually is. For example he wouldn’t “have his boot on the throat of BP”, or wave with a coffee cup at servicemen which was one of his lowest points, or hand back a gift from a nation to a nation….Really!
    Trump’s wealth? :
    He looks like he’s been very successful and has managed matters of complexity and people. He’s got to do something bad to make me change my mind but he’ll never be a moron.
    I haven’t looked closely at the others but I would like to see real change and that requires frank talking and nerve.
    If you think Trump’s no good but he makes the running, wouldn’t you vote for him rather than end up with the Democrats?

  30. Bob: I will have to take your word you would not call Trump evil. You did sound very testy, however. I really can’t see how Trump with his finger on the red button is scarier than Obama letting ISIS invade our country, destroy our economy, etc. At least the red button is a quick death and not a death from a thousands nicks.

    Trump was a potential candidate in 2011 but decided not to leave the private sector. His positions back then look fairly similar to now. As much as any candidate, except maybe Cruz. Hillary sways in the wind on everything and Dems don’t care.

    It amazes me how many people are certain doom is near, no matter what we do. Thankfully, the colonists didn’t look at the world that way.

  31. Ye Olde Statistician

    December 7, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    The Repubs would do well to drop their Fascist tendencies

    Part of the fascist program was to rationalize “wasteful” capitalism by state regulation. In particular, there were no rich or poor, but there were rich countries and poor countries. So poor countries must order enterprises within their borders so they work together. A single stick is breakable, but a bundle of sticks (fasces) is not. Hence, in each industry there must be boards (syndicates) consisting of government, industry, university, and labor which would allocate the “right” market share (and/or region) to each enterprise so they would not waste resources competing with one another. It is not clear whether the Republicans advocate extensive governmental regulation of the market place in the name of “fair share.”

    The trick was to get all the people working together, like the fingers of a fist or a bundle of sticks. This would happen when a man emerged who could embody in himself the aspirations of his nation and become the Duce, Fuehrer, Caudillo, or the One we have been waiting for. This solution to the class struggle (as opposed to the Revolution) is what distinguishes national socialism (note lower case) from international socialism.
    +++++
    An old Italian gentleman once told me that, no, the trains did not run on time.

  32. “The Repubs would do well to drop their Fascist tendencies”

    You accused Repubs are fascist the true fascist are Progressive and liberals, there are far to many progressives int the Republican parity but the Republican party is not home to the Progressives, the home for the Progressives is the Democrat parity! If you are honest you have to admit at this point there are more Progressives in the Democrat party than the Republican party if you cannot do that you are simply not being honest with yourself. As far as it goes the most successful Progressive parity was the National Socialist parity of Germany and don’t try that lie to me the the Nazis were on the right, the were leftist fighting other leftist as to which leftist philosophy would win Nazis were Progressive with a blend of nationalism on the other side were just plain old Communist. If you knew anything about history you would know that Hitler was the most successful progressives in the twenty century and was the darling of the Progressives until it fell apart and the true nature of the what a Progressives movement went on full display. That is why no one talk much about the Progressive movement of the first half of the twentieth century during the last half of the twenty century and would not admit the were Progressive until the twenty first century. It is and old worn out story to call Republican fascist, and that old record is used to deflect the truth of whom the true fascist are, liberalism and the left is the home of fascism has always been and will always will be. You simple cannot be on the right and believe in personal liberty and be a fascist, fascist and liberals believe the individual is subservient to government people on the right believe the government is subservient to the people. There are far to many in the Republican establishments that are Democrat light and have fascist tendencies but to be a true fascist you need to be a Democrat or on the left. I think our liberal troll should return under the bridge for now.

  33. Mark Luhman
    Hitler was a socialist.

  34. Calling a person or group fascist is the philosophical equivalent of calling someone ‘big nose’. It’s a name you toss at someone when you’re not smart enough to argue coherently.

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