Dig beneath the sales schtick

It was Bill Maher who mentioned this first, but the words aligns well with what Donald Trump does. Maher, being from New Jersey, said he grew up hearing this kind of talk, so he recognized it early on. Donald Trump is all about “New Jersey schtick.” In his mind, it is a constant banter to make truths better and tell lies to sell anything, including your reputation. In all fairness to folks from New Jersey, this kind of “schtick” can be found everywhere.

From the Free dictionary, the word schtick, which is also spelled shtick, means: A characteristic attribute, talent, or trait that is helpful in securing recognition or attention Salespeople use schtick, but it is unfair to paint all salespeople with this brush. The ones who focus on relationship selling will tend to use less of it, while those who focus on transactional sales, will tend to use more of it. What do I mean by that?

Relationship sellers want to work with you long term, building a relationship. Transactional sellers want to get a sale to maximize profit in short order. The latter represents Trump’s approach, which is one reason he is less concerned with long relationships with other countries. And, since he does not care to be a student of history, he does not place a value on the relationship. So, he focuses on transactions.

To do that, he looks for props to sell from. He needs a very short, bumper sticker solution to a problem. The fact the problem is more complex or the solution won’t really solve it is irrelevant. His transactional focus is to win. It is a zero-sum game – I must win, you must lose. “Build the wall” fit nicely on a bumper sticker. Getting folks to chant it and the response to who is going to pay for it is all about sales schtick. The fact immigration is down the list for why folks are disenfranchised matters not – technology gains and offshoring jobs were the main culprits.

Props work best when they can be used to placate fears that are stoked. The Black Lives Matter movement gave Trump two props that he is using today. The handful of folks who are creating violence is one prop. The “defund the police” is the other. Now, defunding the police does not mean take all of their money away. That would be ludicrous. But, repurposing funding to hire licensed social workers and train police to deescalate crises is important. So, Trump and his sycophants are playing this up just as Richard Nixon did in 1968, the year MLK and RFK were assassinated that led to rioting and violence.

Let’s be clear. Donald Trump will say anything to get elected and to be liked by his base of followers. This is a key reason he does not know where the truth stops and the lies begin. Paula Reid of CBS News noted to Trump at a press conference after he just repeated what he has often said that he signed the VA Healthcare Protection Act, that was not a true statement. He likely had no idea he was lying. The act was signed in 2014. He just signed an amendment to it.

Financial reporters, who have covered Trump for decades, note he is not the best of managers. He does not have the emosthy, patience, temperament or time for it. What he is good at is selling. Make the deal and leave a way to get out when the cookie crumbles. He started selling his name for building developments, but he left himself an out when problems surfaced and he could bail. This was a transactional sales person’s dream – get your revenue without any responsibility.

Unfortunately, this is how he approaches the White House. Get the accolades, take credit for all things good regardless of your role and blame others for any problems, even if your failures contributed to them. He and his sycophants spend a lot of tax payer dollars trying to erase or re-write history to absolve him of any accountability.

So, the way to beat Trump is to define truthful props that can be pounded like a drumbeat.

– Trump admitted to lying about the pandemic and now 200,000 (and growing) Americans have died
– America is less trusted because its president is untrustworthy
– Trump does not even try to unite Americans
– It is hard to put out racial fires when the president is carrying a gas can
– Trump is making it easier for China to ascend to number one in economic clout
– Trump is making it easier companies to pee in your water supply
– America is only one of three nations to not support the Paris Climate Change Accord
– The ACA may be ruled unconstitutional after the election by SCOTUS due to changes made by Republicans
– How does a president take credit for building an economy with 7 plus years of growth when he took office?

There is little hope of changing the mindset of someone wearing a t-shirt that says “Jesus died for you – Trump lives for you.” That is just a load of BS. But, that is the base’s mindset. His one genius is to get people to buy his schtick and not believe anyone else. And, he knows they won’t as, if they start to question him and heed the uncomfortable truths, the cognitive dissonance would be overwhelming. This is why the words of Michael Cohen, Trump’s attorney and fixer fell on deaf ears, when under oath he said “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con-artist and he is a cheat.”

Responsibility and blame

Former Vice President and Senator Joe Biden has a couple of very positive TV commercials on what he will do as president. In the middle of one, he says the definitive line. Paraphrasing, he says:

I will take responsibility and not blame others for my actions.

That is a powerful differentiator between Biden and the current incumbent, who is unaccountable for any decision, action, statement or tweet gone awry. The lack of responsibility and accountability is not new to this president having acted this way all of his life.

Yet, the blaming of others is an equal recurring sin of the president. He must blame others. His fragile ego cannot tolerate criticism.

Whether it is Fauci, Tillerson, Powell, Mattis, Bolton, Obama, McCain, Pelosi, Romney, etc., blame must be heaped upon others, often with a large spoonful of name-calling.

Republican legislators running for office are realizing the weight of the Trump anchor. They are a tad late. In my view, he is the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime, including Richard Nixon. But, even if he was not, he is a poor excuse for a leader, taking credit for anything good and blaming others for anything bad. In business, we used the word “Teflon” to define someone who would not accept responsibility for mistakes.

Let me close with a pre-election story. Trump introduced himself as a possible political candidate by repeatedly beating on President Obama with this “birther” conspiracy. Even after Obama released documents confirming his US birth, Trump and the birthers persisted. This went on for a couple of years. After it became an issue in the campaign, Trump had a press conference to come clean – he then blamed Hillary Clinton for the birther issue because someone had raised the conspiracy in her 2008 campaign, which she dismissed. So, the person who ran with the birther issue for a couple of years, weaseled out of responsibility and blamed Clinton,

There is a TV commercial of a little boy saying “I didn’t do it” throughout. When the over-70 year old president blames someone, think of this little boy.

Fauci speaks volumes in a few words

The modus operandi of the incumbent president is simple – say whatever is necessary to make himself look good, when the storyline no longer works, change the narrative, and blame others for failures and take credit for any successes. Perception matters more than reality, so actually solving problems is secondary to looking good.

In the past few weeks, with 67% of Americans not approving Trump’s handling of COVID-19, he has blamed the doctors who advise us, in particular, Dr. Anthony Fauci. His sycophants have joined him. Advisor Peter Navarro wrote a hatchet job on Fauci, but the push back was so severe, even the president did a little backstroke.

Yesterday, Dr, Fauci offered the correct response. The title of an article in Reuters, along with the first paragraph are all that is needed:

“Dr. Fauci: ‘Let’s stop this nonsense’ and fight the virus

Top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci called the White House effort to discredit him “bizarre” and urged an end to the divisiveness over the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

To be frank, the US has a rudderless ship on the COVID-19 handling. Back in January and even early February, after being briefed several times by US intelligence leaders about the risks of the pandenmic, the president made a choice. Instead of being presidential forewarning us and planning ahead, he chose to naysay and misinform us about COVID-19.

In short, the ball was on the tee to lead us and the president whiffed. And, the misinformation continues to this day. Last night, on PBS Newshour, a report on the success of San Francisco’s China Town in keeping a lid on the virus was noted. The hospital and community leadership began planning the first week of February communicating needed preventive actions.

And, it has been successful. China Town leaders heeded mission one in a pandemic – tell people the truth. Pandemic or not, the truth is a commodity to the president. In short, taking the president at his word is a fool’s errand.

President claims others are lying

The following letter was forwarded to my local newspaper yesterday. I hope they print it. Please feel free to adapt and use.
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I find amusing the headline “President says everyone else is lying.” This headline involves a president and his sycophants attempting to blame others for his misinformation and mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic which continues to this day. Per an ABC/ ISPOs poll, 67% of Americans disapprove of his handling of the pandemic. Until he focuses on helping Americans instead of how it makes him look, he will continue to misinform us and more Americans will get sick and die. Pandemics do not care about optics.

From the mouth of Steve Schmidt, Republican presidential campaign manager

This is courtesy of a CNN article called “This is the most succinct — and brutal — Republican rejection of Donald Trump that you will ever read,” which transcribes Steve Schmidt’s comments. Schmidt is a lifelong Republican, who was the campaign manager for John McCain in 2008 and Lamar Alexander in 2000. He is one of the founding members of The Lincoln Project, which is organized to help defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

“Donald Trump has been the worst president this country has ever had. And I don’t say that hyperbolically. He is. But he is a consequential president. And he has brought this country in three short years to a place of weakness that is simply unimaginable if you were pondering where we are today from the day where Barack Obama left office. And there were a lot of us on that day who were deeply skeptical and very worried about what a Trump presidency would be. But this is a moment of unparalleled national humiliation, of weakness.

“When you listen to the President, these are the musings of an imbecile. An idiot. And I don’t use those words to name call. I use them because they are the precise words of the English language to describe his behavior. His comportment. His actions. We’ve never seen a level of incompetence, a level of ineptitude so staggering on a daily basis by anybody in the history of the country whose ever been charged with substantial responsibilities.

“It’s just astonishing that this man is president of the United States. The man, the con man, from New York City. Many bankruptcies, failed businesses, a reality show, that branded him as something that he never was. A successful businessman. Well, he’s the President of the United States now, and the man who said he would make the country great again. And he’s brought death, suffering, and economic collapse on truly an epic scale. And let’s be clear. This isn’t happening in every country around the world. This place. Our place. Our home. Our country. The United States. We are the epicenter. We are the place where you’re the most likely to die from this disease. We’re the ones with the most shattered economy. And we are because of the fool that sits in the Oval Office behind the Resolute Desk.”

There is nothing to add or refute. Your comments are welcome.

He keeps missing the point

Turnout was low at the pep rally, about 1/3 of the arena per the official count. As expected, it is everyone else’s fault per the drawing card. I am certain heads will roll because of the low turnout and rumblings are underway. But, throughout all of this, the drawing card is missing the point. He violated the trust of his loyal fans by risking their health and lives.

Yes, there were a number that showed up to support the drawing card. Very few masks were used, well because the drawing card does not wear one, why should they? Very little social distancing occurred, even though it was easier with a 2/3 empty arena. Sadly, some of these folks and their relatives, friends, co-workers and chance encounters will be exposed to COVID-19.

While I am well beneath perfection, the drawing card has numerous flaws, none of which he will admit. But, one of his more egregious ones is the inability to be accountable for his mistakes and bad decisions. It rivals his inability to tell the truth with any consistency, as it is a cover-up defense mechanism.

To be brutally frank, the drawing card deserves very little trust. When his friend Howard Stern noted the drawing card could care less about his most loyal of fans, it was not a surprise. His wanting their votes, applause and support, was thrown to the wolves, when he staged a pep rally in the middle of a pandemic which is not going away, then required his loyal fans to hold harmless his campaign if they got COVID-19.

The preceding sentence is as good a metaphor for why this person does not deserve people’s trust as any. Loyalty to the drawing card is a one way street. In his defense, people might say he had Barr fire the New York prosecutor who is investigating Rudy Giuliani. But, in actuality he is more worried about the dirt that might come back on him. It is all about The Donald. Always has been, always will be. Every decision or statement circles back to that large ego.

So, the point being missed is the reason the turnout and poll numbers are low are due to one thing and one thing only. The person blaming everyone else. At some point, people notice when you show you do not care about them.

That Law and Order Thing

The president has said several times that we must have law and order, but unfortunately uses terms that indict people of color with “dog whistle racist” terms. Allow me to focus on that law and order mantra and its advocate.

Does law and order mean violating a court order to preserve an artistic facade to a building (for movement to another location) he bought by hiring people in the middle of the night to strip off the facade?

Does law and order mean not treating African-Americans fairly in his properties, being ordered by a court settlement to remedy such, then having to be re-sued to get him to comply with the first order?

Does law and order mean taking a full page ad indicting five black teens for a Central Park rape and murder who were later found to be innocent?

Does law and order mean accusing a sitting president without proof for not being born in the US and doing so for several years?

Does law and order mean extorting a country for personal gain running a shadow diplomacy with unvetted people?

Does law and order mean having license to accuse anyone of anything without proof or accountability?

Does law and order mean using funds appropriated by Congress for a specific purposes to be used for other purposes?

Does law and order mean firing or belittling hard-working Inspectors General whose job is police government practices?

All of the above have been done by the president before and after his inauguration. The accusation that bothers me the most is he is being libelous without being held accountable. But, firing Inspectors General is a blatant abuse of power that needs to be reckoned with and GOP Senators are forsaking their duty.

Unwarranted overconfidence is harmful

This is an underreported story. Why does the US have 5% of the global population, but 31% of the COVID-19 cases and 28% of the COVID-19 deaths? Per an article in The Guardian, the rest of the world is “horrified” by the US response. We must be smart about how we reopen, not falling into an overconfident trap thinking that we solved this pandemic problem. Unwarranted overconfidence, bordering on arrogance, is harmful to our country.

But, let’s set that aside and look at a sports story as an example. Before the 1978 Cotton Bowl game, Fred Akers, coach of the number one ranked Texas Longhorns was on a pre-game talk show for a NFL football game. He was joined by soft-spoken Dan Devine, the coach of the number five ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The announcers went out of their way to ask how Devine felt since they did not stand a chance against the heavily-favored Longhorns. Devine was polite and said we would just do our best. Akers was smiling, but very confident in manner, even smug. Notre Dame went on to win 38 to 10, in a blowout over the heavily-favored Texas team.

I often use this example. Overconfidence is a dangerous factor. Right now, people are pushing to reopen the country, which we must do, but do so with a judicious and sensible approach. We have not solved the COVID-19 problem in the US actually handling it much more poorly than other countries. Brazil and Russia are handling it badly, as well, but they trail the US. What we have done is managed the problem with social distancing and closing stores, but we have not solved it. The hotter weather is supposed to help, but gathering in groups with no protection or distancing will have the opposite effect.

So, it worries me greatly when too many folks are far more cavalier than they should be about getting out in public. It worries me that too many people listen to a president push for things misrepresenting daily where we are. And, it goes on down the line. Taking the president at his word is a fool’s errand. Taking health care advice from the president can be very bad for your health. Yes, we must open up some, but we must be very smart about how we do it. We need to be smart about where we go, how we act, how we protect ourselves, etc. And, we need to be the smart ones in the room, with too many people in leadership positions not shooting straight with us.

The world is right to be horrified. They see the machinations of an untrustworthy US leader who dropped the ball when he actually could have led. Fortunately, governors of both parties, healthcare professionals and citizens have picked up the ball the president dropped. So, if someone tells you what a great job the president is doing, ask that person to respond to those relative percentages in the first paragraph. We lost six weeks of planning due to this president and the misinformation continues to this day. His mission one focus is getting reelected, not helping people.

What we have here, is a FAILURE to communicate

These are the immortal words of Strother Martin who played the tyrannical southern warden in “Cool Hand Luke.” The word “Failure” is capitalized as it must be drawn out.

Failure to communicate is its own virus that compromises many a person. It is especially true for those trying to forewarn the self-professed smartest guy in the room.

The previous president, the transition manager and multiple people on the staff of the newly elected president told him “DO NOT HIRE MICHAEL FLYNN.” Yet, among his many shortcomings, the president does not listen very well. He also does not have the patience to vet candidates.

But, the president hired Flynn anyway, Flynn committed a crime working with the Russians before he had authority to do so and then he lied to the FBI, which is also a crime, to which he later confessed.

Early on, people who would vote for him said Trump would hire the best of people to make up for his inexperience. Well, he did hire a couple of well regarded people, but they are long gone, tiring of their boss’ shenanigans and inability to communicate concerns to belay inappropriate actions.

But for the most part, Trump’s inability to listen and lack of patience created many obstacles and more than a few questionable hires and candidates. Trying to appoint his personal doctor as head of the Veterans Administration, nominating more than a few candidates who later pulled because the Senate would vote them down, picking a governor with no science degree to manage the Department of Energy, and so on are just a few examples.

If he listened or would take the time to ask beforehand, he could have saved himself a lot of embarassment. It is hard to communicate with someone who won’t listen or take the time to hear you. Yet, one thing is for certain, Trump does not accept responsibility for his inability to listen and bad hiring decisions. But, that is precisely who has the responsibility for hiring Michael Flynn when told not to – his name is Donald J. Trump.

The so-called Lion does not sleep at night

In an article posted yesterday called “Donald Trump just broke the most basic rule of politics” by Chris Cillizza of CNN, it notes the president has increased the visibility of The Lincoln Project. The Lincoln Project is a group of Republicans committed to defeating Donald Trump in the election.

Trump is none to happy with this group and its commercial called “Mourning in America” and has taken his favorite attack ploy – name calling. Per Trump, they are “losers” and “RINOs” and are ignoring his many successes, which he embellishes.

The article, whose link is below, says the lion should not worry about what his prey thinks. He should just be a lion. Calling Trump a lion is generous, but it is a good metaphor of how the president does not handle criticism very well. When directed at him, he attacks roaring with spite, fervor and truth-be-damned spin.

From the article, below is a paragraph from the ad “Mourning in America,” followed by the words of Cillizzo.

“‘Under the leadership of Donald Trump our country is weaker and sicker and poorer,” says the ad’s narrator. ‘If we have another four years like this, will there even be an America?’

Its message is dark, foreboding and harsh. And it’s very likely that almost no one would have even seen that message had it not been for Donald Trump.”

Americans who care about what has been done to our democracy, our global standing, our relationships and a sense of decency and empathy, need to help make more people aware of The Lincoln Project. When the inevitable push back comes from Trump supporters, the correct rebuttal is “these are Republican voices, not mine.” The Trump wall is starting to show a few cracks with a gradual few who are starting to criticize actions, as Sean Hannity did about too zealous of protestors the other night.

Yet, there are several certainties. As the COVID-19 pandemic does not go away and increases in areas that opened up without enough precautions and the economy continues to struggle as people watch their dollars and don’t rush out of their homes, the president will be prone to even more criticism than he currently has earned. As criticism mounts, he will strike out like a cornered animal. Yet, this lion’s roar will sound more like that of Scar than Mufasa. And, even Scar’s hyenas will have a hard time defending this lion.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/05/politics/lincoln-project-ad-donald-trump/index.html