Thursday, September 17, 2015

CNN Does Hatchet Job on GOP "Debate" – Again!

Following up on the 2012 CNN "gotcha" debate when Candy Crowley took Barack Obama's side – inaccurately – against Mitt Romney, a CNN team presided over a spectacle Wednesday night that had only a shadow of resemblance to "a contention by words or arguments."

The three-hour ordeal appeared to have but one goal, the disparagement of the entire 11-member GOP slate in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The only way a true winner could have emerged was if they all turned in unison and walked off the stage.

It was a setup from the start, with CNN moderator Jake Tapper asking Carly Fiorina to comment on someone else's statement that Donald Trump shouldn't have his finger on the nuclear button – a throwback to the dark days of the Cold War when contending politicians used the threat of nuclear holocaust to question opponents' mental stability.

Fiorina waded right into the fray, saying “I think Mr. Trump is a wonderful entertainer,” and then ducking the rest of the question, thankfully. Trump actually missed a terrific opportunity to parry Fiorina considering they were standing in front of an Air Force One aircraft that had flown President Reagan to his official duties, and that Reagan was an entertainer before becoming arguably the most beloved president of the modern era.

Oddly enough, Trump responded by attacking Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, whom he said “shouldn’t be on this stage” because of his low poll numbers. Paul shot back that there was “a sophomoric quality” to Trump, noting that Trump has attacked people for how they look.

Trump retorted that he had never attacked Paul's looks, adding, however, “There’s plenty of subject matter right there.”

That basically set the tone for the evening, and believe it or not, it actually went downhill from there, as question after question pitted one candidate against another on a personal rather than policy level, usually spinning off something that someone had said in an interview at some other time.

Otherwise, substantive discussions were at a minimum and usually grew out of frustration from the many candidates who seemed to be all but ignored by the CNN team as the big names on stage engaged in drawn-out thrusts and parries that had virtually nothing to do with the state of the country.

Some of the more enlightening moments came from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee who didn't get to speak much, but when he did it was insightful and direct, hitting for instance on the Iranian deal (treaty), and Planned Parenthood harvesting body parts from living aborted fetuses. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker also got in some good points along the way, but like most other participants, they were few and far between.

Right alongside Huckabee, literally and figuratively, was Texas Senator Ted Cruz who also didn't get that much time but nonetheless was right on the money when he did speak. Florida Senator Marco Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also tried to bring the discussion back to real issues and away from personality disputes with only partial success.

One of the more ridiculous moments of the evening came when former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush chastised Trump for singling out illegal aliens from Mexico in his immigration discussions, and told him to go out in the audience and apologize to Bush's wife, who was born in Mexico. Trump refused and tried to make the point over Bush's insistent interruptions that he was talking about criminal illegals, not law-abiding Mexicans.

Actually, Trump should have taken Bush up on his challenge. He should have called Mrs. Bush up to the stage, told her he had heard she is a wonderful person and note that his criticisms were of the Mexican government sending criminals of all sorts over the southern US border. Trump could have made his point, looked accommodating to Mrs. Bush, and probably gotten Jeb in trouble with his wife for putting her in the spotlight.

There were times during the three hours when virtually everyone got to make a salient point or two, although they usually had to fight for the time. Trump and Bush got more than double the exposure of some of the other candidates, so those on the short end of the stick had to be somewhat aggressive.

The most aggressive of all was Ohio Gov. John Kasich who at one point looked so angry that I thought his eyes were bloodshot, although that could just have been my TV. Dr. Ben Carson, who many pundits were saying needed a "breakout" night, didn't get it and often found himself on the defensive, such as when he was asked about his opposition to going to war in Afghanistan after the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

Carly Fiorina had several good moments including her statement on the Planned Parenthood debacle and certainly showed that she should be on stage. However, she still displayed far too many moments when her infamous "demeanor" was dark and foreboding. She later told a reporter that there are too many serious things at hand to smile about, which may be true, but she could at least look pleasant during the interludes.

All in all the night was an abomination and it did absolutely no good for the Republican Party. GOP National Chairman Reince Priebus might consider holding a meeting with all the candidates prior to the next debate and drum one simple point into their heads.

When you are asked if another candidate's finger should be on the nuclear button, the only response is "Anyone on this stage would be preferable to Hillary Clinton, or any other Democrat candidate." Then get back to the issues and how the GOP will keep the Congress and win the White House in 2016.
Sunday, September 13, 2015

Smile Carly, Smile, Trump Has a Point

Carly Fiorina was but one of the Republican presidential candidates who last week attempted to boost their standing in the over-crowded, pre-nomination field by engaging in a verbal spat with front-runner Donald Trump.

Trump was asked a question about Fiorina's meteoric rise in the polls, all the way from 1 percent to 3 percent in a matter of just a few months. Trump, as expected, did not deflect the question but answered it in his usual blunt manner, pointing to Fiorina's often sour demeanor and asking “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?"

The media, predictably, reported, virtually across the board, that Trump was bashing Fiorina's looks, those she was born with not those she controls by using the muscles in her face. Fiorina quipped that she must be "getting under his skin" because of the aforementioned upwards movement in the media generated and controlled polls.

Fiorina and the media all forgot to mention that she was criticized in her 2010 Senatorial bid for bashing her opponent, Barbara Boxer's hairstyle. Fiorina later said that taking (and giving) shots about appearances "goes with the territory." That, however, was in 2010. This is 2015.

Nonetheless, Trump was forced to clarify that he was talking about Fiorina's demeanor, not her actual looks, which some media outlets trumpeted as a victory for freedom of the press and a harbinger of the soon-to-deflate Trump campaign.

Trump's poll numbers responded by going up even further.

The fact is, Fiorina often forgets that she is always in focus on someone's camera when she is out in public, and there are far too many moments when she does in fact look dour, sourpussed even. Several of these moments were during the first Republican "B" Squad debate, the one for the not-quite-there, soon-to-be-gone, never-really-had-it candidates.

Fiorina did well in that debate but often, when another candidate was answering a question and the camera momentarily focused on Fiorina, she looked like she had just bitten into something sour. I should note here that I like Fiorina and am happy that she got sufficient poll numbers to force CNN to restructure its eligibility criteria for the upcoming debate to ensure that she gets on stage.

But I said way back during the B Squad debate that she should get some media relations training that should include teaching her that she is always on camera, and she always should look pleasant, even smiling if appropriate. Looking intense just doesn't work for Carly.

However, now some pundits are saying Trump should really look out for her in this debate because she is going to put him in his place. Or not. This could easily be one of those scenarios where she is so built up by the media that anything less than a grand-slam knockout will be regarded as abject failure.

Remember, the media wants Jeb Bush to face Hillary Clinton in 2016, so no one in DC or Manhattan will lose their cushy jobs as 7-figure anchors, or sought after pundits, or Chief Correspondents of something or other. A lot of media money is at stake here and regardless of which side of the political fence they are perceived to be on, the media is in the tank for the status quo and that means JEB! and Hillary.

Trump, since he is so rich and is funding his own campaign is a fly in the media ointment and from the media standpoint he has to go, the sooner the better. Thus the coverage of anyone who makes the mistake of abandoning their campaign issues to spend time bashing Trump. It won't work for them, it probably won't hurt Trump, but it does adhere to the media agenda.

So if Fiorina, or Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal who I also like very much and who also jumped on Trump's candidacy this week as a means of getting some media coverage, can bring Trump down, then Jeb will have free reign to spend his $100-million plus of lobbyist money on buying media ads and paying media salaries.

Candidate Ben Carson got on the anti-Trump bandwagon last week as well, questioning Trump's religious faith, an issue which Trump said he keeps private, although he did open up and inform the world that he is a Presbyterian and he believes in the Bible. Carson, who previously tripped up by questioning Trump's immigration stance, ended up apologizing for calling Trump's faith into question.

Carson's status quo immigration position probably hurt him a lot more than any perceived damage he did by questioning trump's intent to deport alien criminals, gang members and others. The public likes that position and Carson's campaign could very well have plateaued by getting into the Trump bashing game plan just to please the media.

Frankly, the more the media and its anointed candidates du jour appear to be using Trump as a whipping boy for their agendas, the more the public reacts negatively to the attackers and positively for Trump. Hey, maybe it wasn't the most subtle or sensitive of comments to say what he did about Fiorina's looks, but it was accurate and it should be more of a wake up call for Fiorina than a slam at Trump.

Even Chris Wallace said on Fox News Sunday this week, when he wasn't trying to get John Kasich (who has developed an affectation for purple in  his personal wardrobe) to jump on the bash Trump bandwagon, that Jindal would have received zero press coverage if he gave a speech on a major policy initiative. But Jindal did get coverage and lots of it, for bashing Trump.

Yet Trump is the one going up in the polls, JEB! is plummeting, even in those fake 300 or 400 respondent coffee klatches with margins of error in the 5 percent range, masquerading as polls. Nonetheless, pundits are spouting their wishful thinking that if enough other candidates say enough bad things about Trump, somehow, miraculously, the public will decide they no longer like him and flock to JEB!

Whistling past the graveyard is what they're doing. Whistling past the graveyard.
Saturday, September 05, 2015

Trump Defies GOP "History" and the Media With 3rd Party Pledge

Republican Presidential front-runner Donald Trump signed a pledge on September 2, saying he will not run as a third-party candidate if he fails to gain the party nomination.

Some in the media immediately hopped on his pledge as a capitulation to the GOP hierarchy, and others who really, really want the fast-fading Jeb Bush to be the nominee sharpened their hatchets and ramped up efforts to knock Trump out of the lead for good. But they all are missing a salient point.

First, Trump took the pledge because South Carolina made it a requirement to get on the ballot for the GOP primary there, and other states are saying they will do the same thing. Trump still needs to win primary and caucus votes and even he can't afford to miss being on the ballot, anywhere.

More to the point, it is generally accepted for both the Republican and Democrat parties, that the public is totally disgusted with politics as usual, and the self-anointed "ruling class" that picks and chooses the "political class" in every major election. But the "media class" is slowly coming to the belief that Hillary Clinton probably won't survive criminal investigations into her (alleged) chicanery while Secretary of State and is scrambling to decide which Democrat replacement will bend to its will.

The same media very much wants to believe that Trump will eventually begin to fade, just as other front-runners did in the recent past, so Jeb Bush can reemerge as the anointed leader. Various members of the "pundit class" have pointed to the front-runner status of Rudy Giuliani, Michelle Bachmann and Herman Cain  in previous elections as evidence that early front-runners will drop like a rock further down the road.

However. In virtually every case mentioned by the pundits, there was one common factor that negatively affected each candidate, that will have no impact on Trump whatsoever. That factor, simply put, is money.

Once the media decided that Bachmann, Cain or other candidates were close to knocking its anointed candidate out of the race, an immediate and relentless series of "gotcha" attacks was launched ridiculing them as not being of the right quality, or right knowledge level to hold the highest office in the land. In each case, the media ridicule resulted in a drop off in contributions, which prevented the candidates from buying ads or doing other communications work to offset the constant negativity.

That the attacks on Trump have already begun is evident in a dust-up that occurred on Friday, Sept. 4, when conservative radio announcer Hugh Hewitt tried to trip Trump up on his knowledge of world terrorist organizations, and their leaders of the moment. As if anyone outside the media cares at this point.

Hewitt asked Trump about the anti-American Quds, a secretive terrorist force within the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that reports directly to the Iranian Supreme Leader. But Trump thought Hewitt said Kurds, an ethnic group in Northern Iraq that is both predominately Christian and pro-American.

Trump was well aware that the Kurds have been begging the US for arms to help them fight ISIS, or ISIL if you are an Obama apologist, but he was cut off by Hewitt who said he said "Quds" not "Kurds." I heard a tape of the interview and frankly, even if you are a foreign affairs expert it would have been difficult to determine what Hewitt said.

That exchange immediately turned into an anti-Trump media frenzy about him not knowing ISIS from ISIL, Quds from Kurds, Hezbollah from Hamas, Houthis from Hutus and Tutsis, or Al Qaeda from the Haqqani Network or Boko Haram.

Trump, in his inimitable fashion, charged that Hewitt was asking loaded "gotcha" questions and is a "third-rate" journalist. He has points on both cases, especially since Hewitt interviewed GOP candidate Carly Fiorina later and asked her the same questions, which she answered, claiming meanwhile that she had not heard Trump's interview. That's her story and she's stuck with it.

Trump told Hewitt later in his interview that the terrorists and their leaders will change by the time the 2016 presidential election rolls around and he has a point. It also is assumed, however, that unlike the current occupant of the White House, the next occupant will and should have a more detailed understanding of terrorist organizations that need to be annihilated.

But all this amounts to a tempest in a teacup when you consider the media and the "elitist class" game plan. The point is to drive Trump down in the artificial polls the media is using to eliminate some candidates from debates and regular coverage, and thus eliminate his ability to buy ads etc. Should Trump drop even slightly in these phony "polls" the media will go crazy proclaiming that his support is ebbing and he no longer is a viable candidate.

But Trump has his own money. Lots of it. He merely has to use it effectively. His supporters don't care that some self-styled media elitists are playing games with his knowledge of today's players on the terrorist stage. They despise the media already and are going to respond by supporting Trump even more ardently, if that is even possible.

Trump should go to the ad departments of the news outlets and buy tons of ads – print, radio and TV. Then he should starting running them all the time, especially around the shows of people who are obviously biased against him.

By doing this he will get the ad departments, which really run the show, on his side, he will make the point that he is paying the salaries of his detractors, and for purely political reasons, he will be offsetting their commentaries every time they open their mouths. Money may not be able to buy happiness but it sure can buy ad time.


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