Donald Trump Crowdsources Debate Prep Advice, Again

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There you go again…

After performing so magnificently in the first presidential debate against Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University on Monday night, Donald Trump has once again reached out to his supporters to solicit their advice on how he should tackle the upcoming second debate at Washington University in St. Louis.

Among the searingly introspective questions the Trump campaign is asking this time:

4. Should Trump lay out how his business, private-sector experience will directly benefit the economy?

Well, what else has he got to run on? If not a highly polished and idealised version of his track record in business, on what possible grounds is Trump even running for office?

6. On the subject of Hillary’s emails, should Trump have brought up the fact that Hillary jeopardized our national security?

This is actually a good question. From a purely tactical perspective, Trump utterly failed to properly go after Clinton on any of her biggest perceived weaknesses – her private email server, the Benghazi attacks, the Clinton Foundation and her secrecy over her health – despite being gifted golden opportunities to do so.

9. Should Trump have called out Hillary’s massive Wall Street fundraising and the paid speeches that she refuses to release to the public?

Again, another legitimate point of concern left totally unaddressed by Trump in the first debate, so busy was he exhorting viewers to “call up Sean Hannity” to supposedly get confirmation that Donald Trump was against the Iraq war from the beginning, honest.

12. Should Trump double down on the need to rebuild our infrastructure, and draw on his own experience in construction to get the job done?

Because clearly experience in building gaudy hotels and phallic skyscrapers translates directly to updating the electoral grid, building roads, bridges and airports.

20. Should Trump attack Hillary for referring to tens of millions of American men and women as “deplorables”?

Why the hell not? Soaking in victimhood is probably his best and only shot, at this point.

22. Should Trump point to his history of employing thousands of Americans as evidence of his firsthand experience and ability to create jobs?

While there might normally be some kind of link between that most hallowed of Republican deities, “job creators“, and an understanding how to create the conditions in which economic growth and job creation (frustratingly no longer as intertwined as they once were), in Trump’s case this is far less certain. Trump advocates protectionism on a major scale, which is likely to raise prices – and lower living standards – for all consumers.

27. Should Trump paint Hillary as the epitome of D.C. corruption and the close relationship between lobbyists and politicians?

Maybe if Donald Trump didn’t have a track record of making political donations to carefully selected state attorneys general in an effort to squelch legal actions against him then this might have been a sensible approach. But sadly he does have such a record, so even whispering the word “corruption” is likely to provoke a devastating rebuttal from Hillary Clinton.

A different Republican candidate – someone like John Kasich or Ted Cruz – could likely have made the corruption argument stick, to potentially devastating effect. Donald Trump, however, will almost certainly see the corruption grenade explode in his hand if he even tries to throw it at the next debate.

My advice – not that I remotely wish Donald Trump to follow it – would be far more straightforward than this self-aggrandising survey, and encapsulated in these three points:

  1. Take the time to actually do some policy research. In the first debate, Hillary Clinton came armed with facts and figures to back up her remarks. It wouldn’t hurt to do the same.
  2. When you are caught out in an obvious lie (like your nonexistent brave and principled opposition to the Iraq War), just be grateful when the moderator doesn’t haul you up on it even harder. Don’t spend the next five minutes angrily rebutting the plain truth, you are simply writing the Huffington Post’s next day headlines for them.
  3. Stop shouting about how great your temperament is. Even your ardent supporters know deep down that your temperament is, uh, not your chief selling point.

But since Donald Trump is congenitally incapable of receiving negative feedback (or even constructive criticism) it is probably a safe bet that we will see exactly the same ill-prepared, thin-skinned brute that showed up for the first debate.

Donald Trump could still lose the debates and go on to win the presidency – particularly in the current highly charged climate, where every time he falls flat on his face or gets caught in an obvious lie is interpreted by his supporters as only more evidence of an all-pervasive anti-Trump conspiracy.

But if there was any doubt left – and at this point there really shouldn’t be – then Trump’s proven inability to remain calm and remotely serious for even half of a ninety minute debate shows that however much one may dislike Hillary Clinton, she remains the only viable choice in this election.

 

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Donald Trump Wants Your Help With His Debate Prep

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Trump needs YOUR help to prepare for his debate with Hillary Clinton

No, not really. But his campaign have sent out a survey to supporters, asking them a series of leading questions about what subjects Donald Trump should raise in the first presidential debate on Monday, as well as precisely which insults and zingers he should hurl at Hillary Clinton.

Naturally, the landing page once you complete the survey is a donation form in favour of the Trump Make America Great Again committee (the real reason for the mailshot).

But even though the survey is utterly pointless and will have zero bearing on what Donald Trump decides to do on stage at Hofstra University, some of the questions are quite amusing:

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What self-respecting Trump supporter is ever going to select “No” to Question 9?

Meanwhile, other questions just cry out for an honest answer:

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But the most amusing part has to be the introductory email:

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The message concludes:

I want your honest input. If you disagree with something, tell me you disagree. Look, I never made it in business surrounding myself with people who tell me what I want to hear. Our campaign is about telling it like it is — and that’s not changing. Not now. Not ever.

Because that’s the Donald Trump we all know and love – the humble and collaborative team player who actively solicits constructive criticism and goes to great pains to respond to just criticism.

Of course there is nothing new about surveys like this – the Hillary Clinton campaign sends out its fair share, too. But it is interesting to see how formulaic and transactional the online campaign still is – fill in this fake survey which nobody will ever read so that we can get our hands on your credit card details too.

And with the emergence of one stop shop political organising software like Nationbuilder, and those incessant, overly personal emails which overuse your name in every sentence (or substitute it with “Friend” if your name can’t be found in their database) in a desperate bid for familiarity, the online campaigns have perhaps never been as divorced from the individual candidacies and personalities of the candidates. There is certainly none of the “authenticity” of the Howard Dean online campaign, or even the Obama ’08 campaign.

As this Politico piece notes, contrasting the pioneering Howard Dean campaign with today’s professionalised and sanitised web outreach:

The question of authenticity is one that many Dean alums mull. Dean for America was a genuine, organic grass-roots movement that used Internet tools to empower volunteers and supporters to take ownership of the effort, but today’s campaigns use the Web to collect data and control the message.

It rather makes one pine for the pioneering 1996 Bill Clinton / Al Gore campaign website, in all its dial-up, Windows 3.1 glory – if for no other reason than it offers definitive proof that contrary to his own claims, Bill Clinton does use email.

At least once, anyway.

 

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The Future Of This Blog: Readership Poll

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To infinity, and beyond…

 

UPDATE – 18 September: Many thanks to all those who have completed the surveys and taken the time to share comments or send me emails with your further thoughts as to the future of this blog – your input is very much appreciated, and the feedback I am getting is very useful. The polls will stay open for a further five days and then I will review the results in detail and blog my response and future plans. In the meantime, business as usual…

 

Driven primarily by the recent EU referendum, 2016 has already been by far the biggest year in the four-year history of Semi-Partisan Politics, with all daily, monthly and annual pageview records easily surpassed and many new readers arriving from around the world – not to mention a successful appearance on the BBC Daily Politics.

I want to thank all of you for your readership and support, and for making my angry and sometimes less-than-coherent rantings a part of your daily reading. To those who made generous financial contributions during the EU referendum campaign – a heartfelt thank you. I could not have sustained the pace of blogging and analysis over that hectic period without your help. And to those who have become regular commenters – you continue to teach me, challenge and stretch my thinking in new directions rather than simply reinforcing my existing prejudices. Your input has made me a more rounded thinker and (I hope) a better writer. Thank you.

But now we must look to the future…

Soon, both the EU referendum and the upcoming historic US presidential election will be receding dots in the rear-view mirror, and at this time of change I wanted to reach out to you, my loyal readers, to get a sense of how you would like to see this blog grow and develop over the next 12 months and beyond. I am particularly keen to know whether you think the current blog format (length and frequency of posts) is about right, or if you would like to see stylistic changes, as well as to get a sense of what you think I should be writing about in terms of issues.

I have my own thoughts on the matter, and may as well put my cards on the table. In order to increase readership (and hopefully engagement) further I am thinking of continuing the current schedule of 1-2 normal length commentaries per day, but to supplement this with an additional number (3-5) of short commentaries or reactions to different political developments or stories, as is common in most successful political blogs. These would just be a couple of paragraphs of commentary in reaction to a developing story or a noteworthy piece published elsewhere.

I am conscious that by only posting once or twice per day this blog fails to articulate a position on a lot of significant stories, and this is something I would like to change. And while I will never equal the prodigious output of my blogging hero, the great Andrew Sullivan, I have come to believe that more frequency and variety of posts will hopefully be of interest, encourage more debate and hopefully force me to grow as a political writer.

But all of that being said, I am open to persuasion. Therefore I would be very grateful if you could answer the three main poll questions shown below, to give me a better sense of what you enjoy at Semi-Partisan Politics and what you think can and should be changed.

The first question relates to the format of the blog, i.e. the length and frequency of posts. Please select your one preferred option here:

 

The second question relates to the topics covered at Semi-Partisan Politics, and whether you think that the site would benefit from a change or sharpening of focus. Here, you can select as many options and topics as you like:

 

While the third question looks at whether or not I should expand into other social media to reach a potentially much larger audience. Again, you can select as many options as you want in this case:

 

I would greatly appreciate your feedback on these key questions. Each mini-poll lets you add in your own answer if none of the pre-set responses accurately capture your preference. But if you have any longer or more general comments, please do use the Comments feature to let me know your more detailed thoughts.

Though this blog remains small and relatively unknown (or at least generally unacknowledged by the Westminster media – increasingly I see themes and analyses first expounded here cropping up some months later in more prestigious publications), I think that over the past year in particular something of a community has been forged here, one which I greatly value. I am eager for this growth to continue, and look forward to receiving your input as to how Semi-Partisan Politics should best adapt to face the future.

Thank you for your continued readership and support.

 

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