Through the nation and across the world the liberals, the centrists, the traditionalists and the orthodox are in shock: Donald J. Trump is America’s 45th president and they don’t like that one bit, or like him at all.
I have some advice for those who are beating their breasts and crying, “The sky is falling!”: Get over it, and get to work.
Trump is the man. Those who fear his changes ought to start using the man’s own tool: leverage.
According to The Washington Post’s Robert Costa, who covered Trump’s presidential campaign, and interviewed him again last week, the president has no particular ideology. But he gets ideas from Steve Bannon, his senior counselor and chief White House strategist.
The forces opposed to Trump would do better to focus their fire on Bannon. Criticize him, even ridicule and revile him, but endeavor to get the message straight to Trump.
How can one direct invective at those around Trump, but speak to him directly?
The tool for reaching Trump is television.
Television is a medium associated with mass communication, but now it has a chance of being a medium of singular communication: the way to whisper in the president’s ear in plain sight.
Trump told Chuck Todd, host of “Meet the Press,” that he gets his information from “the shows like yours.” Trump’s early Cabinet appointments show the veracity of this: What he knows, how he thinks and how he’ll act is influenced by what he sees on television much more than by learned discourse in the press.
Trump tweets because what he has to say fits in the written equivalent of a sound bite.
Trump is a creature of television, and it’s a two-way street for him: He loves being on it and gets his information from it. That’s why he appoints people whom he has seen on television. He appointed Monica Crowley as senior director of strategic communications at the National Security Council, but she has relinquished the post amid a plagiarism scandal. Reportedly he was considering Laura Ingraham for White House press secretary. Both are television chirpers.
If you want money to build a new nuclear reactor, more funding for the National Institutes of Health to do research on a certain disease, or if you want to change the fortunes of a small country, take your message to television.
This means the political communications machine needs retooling.
You cannot persuade Trump with dense arguments in journals of opinion. Instead, you must persuade him with easily grasped ideas that will make their way onto television — especially onto the Sunday morning talk shows.
Fox has the edge with Trump, which makes the sale of some ideas more difficult. But he’s open to a catchy concept; something that he can rework into a slogan of his own, while his administration incorporates it into policy.
The other route to Trump are his daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner. Liberals should stop whining about their having a role in the White House. Let them have it. It’s a good thing — and an excellent thing for these times.
Even though they’ve been shielded by wealth from many of the realities of life, they can’t be totally immune to what their generation thinks and says. They are in their middle 30s; Trump is 70. That’s important. It wouldn’t be so if they didn’t get a hearing from Trump. But he relies on them, uses them as sounding board. They could be of value in balancing what Trump hears from Bannon and national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Only a child can say to a parent, a parent who dotes on that child, “You’re full of it.”
That’s what everyone needs to hear sometimes, and Trump especially. Bring them on!