If I told you that throughout American history some candidates for president “looked up” and another group “looked down,” would you be able to make a list of people in each group without a definition of those terms?
Obviously President Kennedy looked up, literally to the moon, and all it represented. Reagan looked up to a shining city on a hill. Bush Senior looked up to a million points of light.
Other candidates were arguably “looking up” in the sense that their messages were about something good ahead. Clinton wanted to build a “bridge to the future.” Obama was all about hope and change. And now Trump is about making America “great again.” All of that feels more up than down.
Now make a list of candidates that looked “down.” And by that I mean they were more about the details, and looking down to the actual work that needed to be done on the ground. Carter comes to mind, as does Bernie Sanders. If Gore had been elected president, I think he would have been looking down at the wiring, not up at the sky.
This up or down sense we share about the candidates is important because the up candidates generally win. And when a Carter or Nixon slips through the cracks, we wish we had picked more of an upper.
My point is that the “up” candidate has a huge advantage. And in the past our “outsider” candidates were more about complaining down than looking up.
John Anderson = down (budget talk)
Ross Perot = down (budget talk)
Jesse Jackson = down (race relations)
Trump is the first up-looking outsider I can think of.
That’s why an article about President Obama criticizing Trump’s slogan caught my eye. This was direct wizard-on-wizard fighting that one rarely sees, and I’m not sure everyone caught it.
Keep in mind that Obama has said he is staying out of the conversation during primary season, as sitting presidents do. But he still wants Trump to lose. You know that.
And today he signaled (according to the Master Wizard Filter) that Joe Biden is waiting on the sidelines and Obama plans to back him. But he did all of that in the context of talking about his administration’s success with the economy and healthcare, a halo that extends to Biden.
But what caught my eye was Obama picking up on Trump’s use of “again” in his “Make America Great, Again” slogan. Obama cleverly turned “again” into a a statement of "gloom and doom,” pointing out that America is great already. That was a strong wizard move, to use Trump’s own words against him to turn optimism into pessimism.
Notice that the wizards change who you ARE, as opposed to criticizing what you DO. Obama turned Trump from an optimist into a pessimist with a sentence or two. Brilliant.
But by debate time last night, Trump had already adjusted, and emphasized that he would make America greater. I think what we saw, according to the Master Wizard filter, was a tap on the shoulder from Obama to tell Trump the big wizard is only sitting on the sidelines as long as he needs to.
Update: This is a bigger deal than you think. All the Republican candidates, and much of the press, have been chipping away at Trump and trying to get him to backpedal, change, adjust, or apologize for anything. Trump never blinked. But with a few well-engineered sentences, uttered once, President Obama – one of the all-time great wizards of persuasion – made Trump reword his campaign slogan.
Yeah, that happened. Did you even notice?
People keep asking what kind of kill shot would take out Trump. My guess is that only Obama has the linguistic firepower to do it, and he is handcuffed at the moment because of primary season. Things will get interesting when Obama starts influencing from the sidelines. Then it’s a fair fight.
I predicted that Trump would soften his immigration plan over time. At the second debate, he talked about letting the non-criminal resident illegals back into the country according to some vague process. That is the start of the softening. Soon the “good ones” won’t have to physically leave, but might have to register and prove their value to the country in some fashion. That will be the next level of softening. Trump just can’t call it amnesty.
And I heard every candidate agree with the wall idea, including one call to use drones as part of the solution.
Funniest comment I saw from a civilian after the debates was that half of the male candidates on stage appeared to have low testosterone. That was my exact observation while watching. Without judging, my objective observation is that several candidates have an effeminate speaking style. I doubt that is a winning formula for a Republican.