bureaucracybusters

WORDS AS WEAPONS: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on June 1, 2016 at 12:04 am

Donald Trump, “for all his moral flaws, is a marketing genius.”

So stated New York Times columnist David Brooks on the May 27 edition of the PBS Newshour.

“And you look at what he does. He just picks a word and he attaches it to a person. Little Marco {Rubio], Lyin’ Ted [Cruz], Crooked Hillary [Clinton].

Donald Trump

“And that’s a word. And that’s how marketing works. It’s a simple, blunt message, but it gets under. It sticks, and it diminishes. And so it has been super effective for him, because he knows how to do that. And [Hillary] just comes with ‘Oh, he’s divisive.’ 

“These are words that are not exciting people. And her campaign style has gotten, if anything…a little more stagnant and more flat.”

Hillary Clinton official Secretary of State portrait crop.jpg

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton isn’t the only Presidential candidate who has proven unable to cope with Trump’s gifts for insult. His targets–and insults–have included:

  • Former Texas Governor Rick Perry: “Wears glasses to seem smart.”
  • Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush: “Low Energy Jeb.”
  • Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders: “Crazy Bernie.”
  • Ohio Governor John Kasich: “Mathematically dead and totally desperate.”

So far, only one opponent has managed to stand up to Trump: Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, whom Trump has called “goofy.”

Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio tried to out-insult Trump at the Republican Presidential candidates’ debate on March 3.

“I call him Little Marco. Little Marco. Hello, Marco,” said Trump.

And so Rubio retaliated with “Big Donald.” Since Americans generally believe that “bigger is better,” this was a poor choice of insult.

On the May 27 edition of the PBS Newshour, syndicated columnist Mark Shields noted the ability of Elizabeth Warren to rattle Trump:

“Elizabeth Warren gets under Donald Trunp’s skin. And I think she’s been the most effective adversary. I think she’s done more to unite the Democratic party than either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

“I mean, she obviously–he can’t stay away from her. He is tweeting about her.”

Elizabeth Warren--Official 113th Congressional Portrait--.jpg

Elizabeth Warren

JUDY WOODRUFF (moderator): “But whether it’s Elizabeth Warren or not, doesn’t Hillary Clinton need to come up with some approach that works, that is as effective comeback?”

DAVID BROOKS: “Yes. Well, I think she does, not that anybody else has managed to do this….

“And so the tactics…is either you do what Elizabeth Warren has done, like full-bore negativity, that kind of [get] under the skin, or try to ridicule him and use humor. Humor is not Hillary Clinton’s strongest point.”  

But sharp-edged humor clearly works for Warren.  

A May 12 story on CNN–“Elizabeth Warren Gives Trump a Dose of His Own Medicine on Twitter”–notes:  

“In the past week the Massachusetts Democrat has refined an aggressive anti-Trump message through a series of so-called tweetstorms. 

“Whenever Trump criticizes her, Warren fires right back at him, sometimes twice as hard.”  

Warren’s tweets, according to the article, appear to have two goals:

  1. Challenge Trump on social media, which he has so far dominated; and
  2. Use attention-catching words like “bully” and “loser.”  

Among her tweets:

  • “But here’s the thing. You can beat a bully–not by tucking tail and running, but by holding your ground.” 
  • When Trump boasted “I’m driving her nuts” Warren tweeted: “No, @realDonaldTrump – your racism, sexism & xenophobia doesn’t drive me nuts. It makes me sick. And I’m not alone.”
  • “You care so much about struggling American workers, @realDonaldTrump, that you want to abolish the federal minimum wage?”
  • @realDonaldTrump: Your policies are dangerous. Your words are reckless. Your record is embarrassing. And your free ride is over.”

Nor has Warren restricted herself to battling Trump on Twitter.

On May 24, Warren unleashed perhaps her most devastating attack on Trump at an event hosted by the Center for Popular Democracy:

“Just yesterday, it came out that Donald Trump had said back in 2007 that he was ‘excited’ for the real estate market to crash because, quote, ‘I’ve always made more money in bad markets than in good markets.’

“That’s right. The rest of us were horrified by the 2008 financial crisis, by what happened to the millions of families…that were forced out of their homes.  

“But Donald Trump was drooling over the idea of a housing meltdown–because it meant he could buy up a bunch more property on the cheap.  

“What kind of a man does that? Root for people to get thrown out on the street? Root for people to lose their jobs? Root for people to lose their pensions?

“What kind of a man does that? I’ll tell you exactly what kind—a man who cares about no one but himself. A small, insecure moneygrubber who doesn’t care who gets hurt, so long as he makes some money off it….

“Sometimes Trump claims he is tough on Wall Street–tough on the guys who cheated people….. But now he’s singing a very different song.

“Last week, he said that the new Dodd-Frank financial regulations have…’made it impossible for bankers to function’ and he will put out a new plan soon that ‘will be close to dismantling Dodd-Frank.’

“Donald Trump is worried about helping poor little Wall Street? Let me find the world’s smallest violin to play a sad, sad song.”

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