Friday, May 6, 2016

No, That Anti-Trump Ad Is Not Brutal

Donald Gets Campaigns. Does Hillary?
Mother Jones recently posted an article entitled "Clinton Releases a Brutal Anti-Trump Ad." Take a look:

I can just imagine the ear-to-ear grins in the Clinton camp when they saw the Mother Jones headline, thinking, "yeah, we nailed it."

The problem, for Mother Jones and the Clinton campaign, is that the ad isn't the slightest bit brutal. Sure, Democrats who demonize Trump instead of studying him may get a thrill out of this and other similar negative ads, but a clear-headed perspective will lead to the real truth:

Hillary is not going to be able beat Donald Trump by attacking his weaknesses. She will only be able to beat Donald Trump by converting his strengths into questions and concerns. 

This is harder to do than it sounds, but it's the necessary work that needs to be done if the Clinton campaign is serious about winning the Presidential race.

This ad -- and the Mother Jones headline -- represents a microcosm of the challenge the Clinton camp is going to have running against Donald Trump in the general election: Mainstream media outlets like Mother Jones continue to see things through the blurry-cam lens of Washington establishment thinking, which re-enforces outdated thinking in the Clinton campaign -- the thinking that Donald Trump is anything resembling a typical candidate.

Let's be clear: If Donald Trump were a regular candidate, this ad would have indeed been "brutal." But the very fact that Donald Trump has said the things he has said -- and yet is the presumptive Republican nominee -- is a clear indicator that this particular candidate runs on charisma and cult of personality. With Trump, there is a relationship deal he makes with everyone he speaks to: "If you like what I say, then I meant it. If you don't like what I say, then don't worry, I didn't really mean it." This implicit "deal" may be a deal-breaker for some, but for many, it makes them feel special -- like they are in on the grand plan.  It's interactive, and, as we've seen, it can be contagious.

If the Clinton campaign doesn't soon come to grips with the fact that they need to first decipher Trump's appeal before using their (suddenly outdated) political instincts, they may be just as culpable as the 16 Republican presidential candidates in letting Trump waltz into the Oval Office, essentially unchallenged.