Outcry, insults and provocative demonstrations may not be the best political strategy in an era when U.S. voters across the board say they are tired of partisan division and a “do-nothing Congress.” Nonetheless, Democrats appear to be in touch with their inner pranksters, even as they seek to accuse President Trump of exhibiting “temper tantrums.”
Take, for example, Democratic Reps. Jackie Speier and Jared Huffman of California, who helped local volunteers pick up trash in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park as the government shut down, uh, rages. The two lawmakers then brought the garbage all the way across country to the nation’s capital and delivered it to the White House.
No one questioned their carbon footprint here. The media chronicled the process. But some question the motivation.
“Real mature. When things get serious, you can always count on Democrats to put the best interest of the country ahead of everything. Just kidding. Instead, when the chips are down, you can expect Democrats to pull stunts — pointless, crude and childish,” Joseph Curl writes in a column for The Daily Wire.
On another front, former Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke offered a live video commentary on illegal immigration as he was having had his teeth cleaned. But the old decorum among elected officials is gone, replaced by strategic feats meant to spark affectionate buzz or positive notice, and reach millions via social media. Have a beer on camera. Dance on a rooftop. Mr. O’Rourke’s performance won him an accolade from the American Dental Association.
“Today’s top contenders run slick digital campaigns, honed for virality. And they’re effective. During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump attracted a disproportionate share of media attention, due in part to his inflammatory tweets. O’Rourke gave us high-definition footage of his gums,” writes Daily Beast reporter Kelly Weill. “As more candidates declare, and voters further entrench themselves in social media, we’re doomed to see more digital stunts. But just like a patient at the dentist, maybe it’s time for oversharers to close their mouths a little.”
DAYS OF YORE
“Politics is just like show business. You have a hell of an opening, coast for a while and then have a hell of a close.”
— Quote from President Ronald Reagan to his political consultant Stuart Spencer in 1966, from “The Macmillan Dictionary of Political Quotations”
THE POMPEO EFFECT
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has put an end to the effectiveness of “apology tours” that were often the diplomacy of choice in a previous administration that appeared to push the narrative that America is to blame for much of the world’s ills.
“The good news is this: The age of self-inflicted American shame is over, and so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering. Now comes the real ‘new beginning,’” Mr. Pompeo told an audience in Cairo.
Headlines and interpretation followed:
“Pompeo delivers anti-Obama Mideast manifesto” (The National Interest); “Pompeo repudiates Obama Mideast policy, takes aim at Iran” (The San Francisco Chronicle); “Pompeo’s Cairo speech revealed the total incoherence of Trump’s Middle East policy” (Vox); “In Cairo, Pompeo delivers Trump’s vision: Confrontation with Iran” (Al Jazeera); “Pompeo’s thankless visit to the Middle East” (PowerLine.com); “Mike Pompeo continues his reassurance tour of the Middle East” (The New York Post).
CLASH OF THE TITANS; KAMALA VS. LIZ
Political branding has to be precise when there are scores of possible contenders in the race. Such is the case for the 40 potential Democratic presidential hopefuls ready to showcase their distinguishing talents for a chance at the big prize. A few Republicans who eye the White House could follow suit. Well, maybe.
Meanwhile, a certain potential clash of the titans has emerged among Democrats, and it illustrates a simple political truth: Voters have to like the candidate. We’re talking Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California. The former declared her intent to run for president a few weeks ago, the latter has penned a well-received new memoir and is currently on a press blitz and book tour. Which brand will win hearts and minds in these early days?
“Kamala Harris is laughing all the way to her 2020 presidential announcement. The junior Democratic senator is currently conducting a media tour to promote her new book — ‘The Truths We Hold’ — that’s serving as a playful tease to a White House run that now feels all but inevitable,” writes David Catanese, senior political writer for U.S. News & World Report.
“A week after Elizabeth Warren faced a critique that uncorked a touchy debate about ‘likeability’ — and whether that wholly subjective evaluation should be made about female candidates — Harris is proving herself to be a comfortable conversationalist, bubbly and engaging, and prone to openly cackling at her own wisecracks. In other words, she’s likeable. Even to those well outside of her political ideology,” says Mr. Catanese.
He adds that Ms. Harris also is “unfurling a more serious but lesser-known record as a former attorney general of California that has the potential to cut into Warren’s perceived ownership of combating corporate malfeasance.”
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POLL DU JOUR
• 29 percent of Americans trust the Republican Party the most for “border security”; 76 percent of Republicans, 20 percent of independents and 3 percent of Democrats agree.
• 27 percent trust the Democratic Party the most; 5 percent of Republicans, 12 percent of independents and 67 percent of Democrats agree.
• 27 percent trust neither party; 11 percent of Republicans, 44 percent of independents and 15 percent of Democrats agree.
• 10 percent are not sure; 4 percent of Republicans, 16 percent of independents and 7 percent of Democrats agree.
• 7 percent trust both parties equally; 4 percent of Republicans, 8 percent of independents and 8 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 6-8.
• Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin
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