Once again Trump commands the headlines

Donald Trump has a superpower—the ability to keep the attention of the public and the press on himself and his tweets rather than on issues he doesn’t want discussed.

He manifested this superpower in his tweet about whether certain Democratic congresswomen shouldn’t just “go back and fix the crime infested places from which they came.”

Last week Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Presley traveled to the southern border and exposed the terrible conditions under which asylum seekers were forced to live—children forced to sleep on concrete floors under bright lights, ICE staff joking about women having to drink out of toilets.

Press coverage was about these bad conditions, and whether they should be called “concentration camps” or not.

AOC and Trump. CNNNews

All this was wiped off the blackboard.  Now press coverage is once again focused on President Trump’s tweets and whether they are acceptable or not.

Trump wins again, despite the House of Representatives vote condemning him.  He has kept the focus on himself and diverted attention from what is going on in the world.

The kryptonite for Trump’s superpower is for the press and the opposition to not take it more seriously than it deserves.  Respond to tweets with other tweets – not with press conferences and congressional resolutions.

Ocasio-Cortez  and her three friends are not under attack because they are women of color.  This is a red herring.

They are under attack because they threaten the system by which corporate and wealthy donors dominate the legislative process.

Some time ago Ocasio-Cortez said that the reason she as a freshman representative has been able to make an impact is that she has time to do her job because she does not follow the guideline of spending three hours a day on the phone to raise money.

That was a powerful statement.  It was threatening to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats and Republicans.  Their power depends on fund-raising from powerful interests.

If an Ocasio-Cortez or a Bernie Sanders shows you can win power in defiance of those interests, this threatens the careers and even the livelihoods of those who depend on the donor class.

It is to Donald Trump’s interest to highlight this division within the Democratic Party, although he and the Republicans, if anything, are worse in this respect.

Top leaders of both political parties must be hoping for Ocasio-Cortez’s defeat.  Already the GOP is grooming a black woman to take her on.  The same is true of the other three.  I hope they all have good constituent service.


The other reason Trump is smart to highlight immigration is that immigration is a wedge issue that splits the Democrats.

The Democrats are opposed to the cruel way in which the Trump administration enforces immigration policy.  But what should that policy be?  Are they for open borders?  If not, what restrictions should there be and how should they be enforced?  I don’t know of anyone who has straight answers to those questions.

[Added 7/18/2019] Oh, my, Trump has really gone off the deep end.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the 2020 Presidential Race and Trump’s Crisis at the Border, an interview for the New Yorker magazine

Rashida Tlaib Wants to Tax the Rich, Save Detroit and Free Palestine, an interview for Jacobin magazine..

Don’t Take the Bait by Raúl Ilargi Mejier for Automatic Earth.

Did ‘The Squad’ Just Make Trump’s Day? by James P. Pinkerton for The American Conservative.

Here’s the real reason Trump is attacking ‘the squad’: he’s scared by Joshua Leiber for The Guardian.

The Border Crisis Is Fracturing the Democratic Party by David Dayen for The American Prospect.  [Added 7/18/2019]

Trump Summons Demons by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative.  [Added 7/18/2019]


Headline changed 7/18/2019


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One Response to “Once again Trump commands the headlines”

  1. Fred (Au Naturel) Says:

    I suggest using gentle humor. Roll your eyes and say, “His twitter account is his own worst enemy.” Or maybe even parody him in some way. He’s an easy target and you don’t even have to be mean about it. Should someone press you hard for a response, state that the attacks tell us more about Trump’s judgment than anything else and move on from there to what you are advocating.

    Sticks and stones may break my bones but your words will never hurt me.

    Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter this way. “There you go again.” was a simple way to disarm his opponents by implying exaggeration and hyperbole on their part. He was the happy warrior, not the angry crusader. Not a press conference, not a rebuttal, just, “There you go again with all your hyperbole. Silly, silly person!”

    To respond with anger gives the attack credibility. It means you take him seriously. He wins by showing his base he can stick it to the other side. And if Pelosi, Schumer, Biden, et al, have to rush to the defense of the most radical elements in the party, that’s a complete victory for Trump.

    Treat him like an obnoxious child and you damage his credibility to his own people and the fence-sitters in the middle.

    The only people who listen to such attacks are his core base and no counter-argument is going to move them. The voters who put these ladies in office aren’t going to change their votes because of it. either. Why bother? If the people, in general, are too stupid to see this as other than a grand kabuki theater we are doomed anyhow so it doesn’t matter.

    It is not human nature to let attacks slide, even when responding to them is to make them more effective. Activists and idealogues are probably doubly guilty of this.

    Raúl Ilargi Mejier is exactly right when he says, “Don’t take the bait!”


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